Twelve Days

As Sally Tyler Hayes:

Spies, Lies & Lovers

Wife, Mother...Lover?

Unbreak My Heart
by Teresa Hill
(Onyx, $6.99,PG) ISBN 0-451-40931-0
I canít remember the last time I read a book with such a weepy heroine. Granted, Allie Bennettís life has been marked by tragedy. Her older sister, Megan, ran away from home at age sixteen and died in a car crash soon after. Six months later, when Allie was nine, her mother literally tore Allie from her fatherís arms and disappeared with her sobbing daughter into the night. Itís the last time Allie ever saw her father and itís apparent he made no attempt to find her.

Now, fifteen years later, Allie returns to the family home in Kentucky after the deaths of her parents. She needs answers to the questions that have dogged her for years: What caused the traumatic end of her parentís marriage? And what was going on during that time that was so bad that Megan felt she had to run away? Allie feels unable to move forward with her life until she finds the answers.

Stephen Whittaker was the boy next door and still resides there today. Although now heís the owner of a very successful company that takes decaying old buildings and restores them to their former glory. Stephen was close to Megan when they were kids and Allie thinks he may be able to help her uncover the truth about what happened. Stephen agrees to help, but itís soon apparent he knows more about Meganís departure than heís willing to share.

I enjoyed the twists and turns as Allie tries to uncover the reasons for her familyís tragedy. But I couldnít get away from the feeling that this was a longer book that had been edited. There are abrupt scene changes and several nagging inconsistencies that always drive me nuts. Such as a scene where Allie has just left her bed one morning and is standing barefoot, staring out the window. The next second, sheís headed to town. I have no idea how sheís getting there. Is she driving? Is she walking? Has she put on any SHOES? Itís those little things that drive me crazy and take me right out of the story.

But that didnít bother me nearly as much as the characters. Thereís nothing worse than a weak character and Allie is simply afraid of everything. She is afraid to go upstairs in her family home and spends several nights on the sofa. Her first unsuccessful attempt to climb the stairs leaves her in tears. In fact, practically every situation reduces her to a blubbering mess. When Allie gets angry at Stephen, she takes out her frustration by slapping him across the face. I canít abide that type of childish behavior in a heroine, and unfortunately, she does it more than once. Stephen could have used a face mask.

As for our hero, Stephen is a bit of a mystery for a good portion of the book, and it made him quite appealing. Unfortunately, once I understood his motivation, I lost some respect for him. He could have used a bit more backbone, himself. Perhaps two weak individuals make a perfect couple?

Contemporaries are my absolute favorites and thereís nothing I like better than to be able to recommend a good one. But Unbreak My Heart is filled with too many irritations and inconsistencies to give it my wholehearted recommendation.

--Karen Lynch

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