Picking Up the Pieces

 
Finding His Way Home
by Barbara Gale
(Silh. Special Ed. #1812, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-373-24812-1
**
Finding His Way Home is a category romance that has all the ingredients: a sassy heroine, an almost too-good to be true hero, a relative creating havoc, a kid who seems wiser than her age and a town full of people who make small town living seem like a dream. And it is an enjoyable tale for what it is; sadly it will likely be remembered for what it isnít.

Valetta Faraday is an heiress to a major publishing firm but no one in Longacre, New York knows it. Valetta is the widow of their favorite son, Jack Faraday, and she has lived there for over 10 years with her daughter Mellie, who was born shortly after her father was killed in an accident. Valetta is estranged from her sister, Alexis Keane, the reigning queen of publishing. Valetta is now the publisher of the local paper and loves her life, despite missing her husband.

Lincoln Cameron is the editor in chief of Keane Publishing. He is also an old family friend on whom Valetta had a crush when just a teenager. Lincoln comes to Longacre to convince Valetta to return to Southern California. Alexis has cancer and she wants Valetta and her daughter to come home, to claim their fortune and to take over some of the reins of the business to give her a break.

Valetta and Linc have some sparks, but they are relatively subtle. Valetta avoids the subject of Alexis so Linc just hangs out, getting to know the people in the town and starting to become a part of them, walking around, going ice fishing and eating at the local diner. Mellie, of course, loves Linc and thrives on the male attention. And Linc starts to rethink his whole life now that he has spent time with Valetta and learned to love the town.

The story moves along nicely although there is little action. The author generates a warm loving feeling and the relationship goes from sense of discomfort due to their years apart to passion in a relatively short period of time.

This allows the reader to go along and be engaged in this tale. It is a nice tale unless the reader starts really thinking about it. The romance is quick and without much heat until they actually fall into bed. Why Lincoln jumps at Alexisís whim is never really explained, except that she dangles a partnership in front of him. After seeing his character though, neither the jumping nor the carrot seem like things he would do. It is easy to see why Vallie likes the town of Longacre, but it seems almost too idealistic. Mellie is a cute kid, even a touch precocious. But none of the characters are given much depth.

One issue that doesnít do well under scrutiny is why Alexis is so emotionally withdrawn. The character is so stereotypical of businesswoman that it is almost an insult. It is portrayed that a woman with smarts, a good figure and power could not be warm, loving and giving. In fact, she is the epitome of being a witch. Lincoln is portrayed as being just as ruthless. But this doesnít ring true. If he were that driven, he would not be content to just hang out in New York doing nothing for a few weeks. And the contrast to Valetta, who has now become a warm, glowing human being who thinks of living versus earning a living, is almost more than one can swallow.

The key to enjoying this story is to stay on the surface. On the surface Finding His Way Home is acceptable albeit unexceptional category romance. Underneath, it is much less.

--Shirley Lyons


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