The Bodyguard

The Cowboy

The Texan

Sisters Found by Joan Johnston
(Mira, $7.50, PG-13) ISBN 1-55166-937-4
Sisters Found is one of those books that while you are reading it, you seem to be enjoying it. Yet once finished, you asked yourself why. This is the tale of three sisters and another young woman in what is a long list of “Hawk’s Way” stories. In fact, it is number 13...could there be a connection?

Faith and Hope Butler are twins, or so they think. They have always felt something is missing besides Faith’s right hand. She was born with a deformity. To compensate, Hope has been the outrageous one, garnering the spotlight in an effort to protect Faith. But there is a new girl in town, her name is Charity and she looks just like Faith and Hope. It turns out that their parents had triplets and due to financial concerns, were forced to give up one of their girls in order to keep the other two. All three have a romance and they are all interconnected.

Faith is in love with a high school boyfriend, Randy. Randy has always been there for her and loves her despite her deformed hand. There is no question of their love, Faith just hasn’t agreed to make the leap into marriage.

Hope has been in love with Jake Whitelaw since she was in her teens and he came home from college. He is about 10 years older than she and feels he is too old for her. After Hope tried to seduce him when she was 17, he has avoided her like the plague and even got engaged to a local schoolteacher named Amanda Carter. Amanda is closer to Jake’s age and has been out of the social whirl due to her mother’s long illness. Amanda was her caretaker.

Hope decided to prove to Jake she was all grown up. She went to college, spent her summers in Europe and other places and has returned ready to claim her man. Just as she returns (after three years), Jake and Amanda announce a wedding date just three weeks away. Now Hope has to convince Jake he should dump Amanda and marry her. Faith pledges to help.

Here is where it gets tricky... Jake’s adopted brother, Rabb, loves Amanda. He has loved her for a few years, but would never think to encroach on his brother’s fiancée. Then with a little nudge from Faith, he realizes he can lose her forever. So he tells Jake that he knows Jake does not love Amanda, and he, Rabb, does. Rabb tells Jake he will try to stop the wedding. Jake, meanwhile, is fighting his feelings for Hope. He is attracted to her, but fears her age and inexperience will make her lose interest in him before long. He thinks Amanda is safe. Yes, when Jake was younger, he was dumped by another woman who decided she couldn’t stand living on his ranch. Jake is fearful of loving again.

Now we have the third sister enter the picture. Charity comes to Hawk’s Way on the arm of her boyfriend Zane Whitelaw, Jake’s cousin, to attend Jake’s wedding. Charity is unaware she has a family and the two girls are unaware of her. When she confronts her parents, she is rude and hateful. This causes her mother to have a heart attack, which causes Charity to rethink her position. Her romance with Zane is presented as fact and just involves the question of whether they should marry.

The majority of the story centers on Hope and Jake, with a few pieces of Faith and Charity’s relationships thrown in. Amanda and Rabb’s romance is intertwined with Jake. The story is driven by the characters and there is little action beyond the conversation. In fact, some of the story is told in retrospect. For instance, Hope tries to seduce Jake upon her return to let him know she still loves him. He sends her away after a passionate kiss. Hope then looks back and relates how they got to this point.

There are several things I had trouble with in this story. First is the use of this method of storytelling. At times I wasn’t sure if I was reading something in the present or if the interaction had taken place in the past. This occurred often and was distracting.

I really never liked any of the characters except Amanda. The men, other than Jake, were not well-developed. Amanda was a little pathetic at times, since it appeared she was settling for Jake because of her fear that there would be no one else. I was truly happy to see her relationship with Rabb work out. Faith was the nicest of the sisters, always concerned about others. I think I have a soft spot for persons who are portrayed with a disability, and she was no exception. However, she was a little too righteous to be true.

Hope came across as a spoiled brat who always got her way. She was generally acting immature and I could understand Jake’s hesitation. The only thing that seemed to make Jake love her was her body and his attraction to her physically. Jake was a one-dimensional character who was either arguing with or loving Hope. He was actually indifferent to Amanda and this caused me to question if I liked him as a hero.

Charity, while a little more understandable given her circumstances, was rude and self-centered. Her turnaround to “loving sister willing to forgive” seemed a little too pat for me.

If you are a fan of Joan Johnston and you have been following this series, you may enjoy this more than I did. Sisters Found is best left on the shelf under the curse of the number 13.

--Shirley Lyons

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