She’s Expecting

Starting With a Kiss

Truth Be Told by Barbara McMahon
(Harl. Super. #1353, $5.50, G) ISBN 0373-71353-3
Here is the truth (or at least the perception of my truth) as seen by me as the reviewer: Truth Be Told has some interesting moments but not enough to sustain a good feeling about reading this book.

At age 17, Jo Hunter was attacked and ultimately beaten when she fought off her attacker who was intent on rape, only to be disbelieved by her foster mother. Jo reported that it was a prominent businessman, Allen McLennon. So she reacted as a teenager might and lied that the person who really beat her was Maddie, the foster mother. Next thing she knew, Jo and her two foster sisters, Eliza and April, were all shipped off to different homes. As far as Jo knows now, Maddie was stripped of her foster license and was under suspicion of assault.

It is 12 years later and Jo is a highly respected undercover officer for the LAPD. She often goes into high schools to infiltrate the drug rings. She is small and fits in, despite her age. Jo has been carrying around guilt for a dozen years that she lied about Maddie, who was the only woman to love her and be a mother to her (her real mother being a drug addict). She is worried about her two foster sisters, who she has not heard from in all that time. When she runs into an old boyfriend from the small town of Maraville, Louisiana who tells her that Maddie has had a stroke, Jo decides she owes it to Maddie to visit and apologize.

Imagine her surprise when she discovers April and Eliza (and the two men they are engaged to) sharing Maddie’s house on Poppin Hill. They have been looking for her and are thrilled she has returned. Maddie cannot talk, but they swear she is longing to see Jo. Sheriff Sam Witt, who is new to town, is also surprised to see Jo. He has not dated since his wife died in a car accident three years ago, and now he finds himself attracted to Jo, a smart mouthed, petite woman who is totally different from his wife.

The story revolves around Jo rediscovering her friendship with the two other women and figuring out how she can prove that Allen McLennon is the snake she knows he is. Sam agrees to help her but wants to investigate by the book. Jo has other ideas.

The sections of the tale that revolve around April, Eliza and Jo regaining their friendship are fun and the best part of the book. Sam seems like a nice guy and could have been a decent hero in another story. The biggest problem of the story is Jo. She is a cop, yet doesn’t act like one. She is sarcastic and has obviously been living under cover as a teenager too long, because that is what she acts like. She is so filled with guilt that it rules her every action. She is rude to Maddie, to Sam, to the other people in town and to her friends. It is amazing that Sam is attracted because she is nothing more than a thorn in his side. It is amazing that the girls can forgive her so easily, because she is standoffish. She throws out her guilt so often, it is a wonder one of them just doesn’t yell “Enough already!” That is certainly what I wanted to do as a reader.

Sam is not well defined as a character. He is supportive of his friends and at times seems lonely. His turnaround from cautious attraction to “I love her, let’s get married” feelings seemed a little rushed, even though it took the whole book to get to that. There just wasn’t a good build up other than a few kisses.

Suffice it to say, this could have been a worse book. But it could have been better too. The whole plot about McLennon seemed to be just a backdrop and then, bam…it was a solved case. Again, there was a lot missing in the build up for it to be fully acceptable.

If the Truth Be Told…give this one a pass.

--Shirley Lyons

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