Her Very Own Family

The Family Man
by Trish Milburn
(Harl. Amer. Rom. #1300, $4.99, PG)  ISBN 978-0373-75304-8
This story is a good one that can be enjoyed in one sitting.  On one hand, The Family Man will tug at the heart strings and really engage the reader.  But there is a bit too much coincidence and lack of depth in the underlying issues that kept me from fully embracing this story.  It was enjoyable, but it was a surface-only read.

Sara Greene is a detective in the Horizon County Police Department.  She is good at her job.  She is also currently adopting two girls, one age seven and one a teenager.   Both lost their parents and both are thrilled that she is taking care of them now.  Sara would like to find a perfect father for them, having had her own father as an excellent role model.  But to Sara, perfect may be more than most men can stand up to.  Sara has some lingering issues with her mother, who abandoned her and her father when she was young, and with her father, who never gave up hope that she would return.

There aren’t many prospects in Horizon County, either.  One of the less than perfect ones is Adam Canfield.  Adam hasn’t been in town long, but his life seems to consist of working on the pier in the ticket/concession booth and hanging out at the local bar on the beach, The Beach Bum.  Adam works there at times, but is generally there as a patron.  With his six-pack abs and charming smile, he is not hard on the eyes, but Sara wants more than just a pretty package.

And Adam starts showing more than that.  First he dives into the water to save a young child from drowning.  Sara saw it first hand, since she was the second person in the water to help.  Then he starts helping a runaway boy – showing signs of compassion Sara never expected.  His first response was to ask what the boy was running from…not to assume that the boy was the bad one.  Sara was intrigued with his sensitivity.   And when the boy comes back to Adam for help after his father beats him, Sara can’t help but start to see Adam in a different light.

Adam has other issues though.  He is an Iraqi war vet who was injured when a roadside bomb hit his convoy, killing everyone but him.  And the “everyone” included one particular aid worker, a young woman named Jessica, who Adam had started to care for.  He felt he failed to protect her and is often troubled by nightmares.  His major issues with getting involved with Sara are her job and the way it seems to bring trouble: first getting hurt in a bar fight she was helping to break up, and then being confronted with an angry man with a gun at a traffic accident.

Adam, despite his trouble, is clearly a good man. He is generous, caring and sexy.  Sara is, too.  After all, how do you open your home to two strangers and grow to love them without being a good person?  But there is just a little too much sentimental flavor for me.  The girls, despite having dark histories, are well-adjusted, fun loving and show no signs of any issues.  The young runaway has been used and abused, yet with a little bit of concern from Adam, just jumps in and falls into line. I realize this is a romance, but there is a lack of reality here that I couldn’t fully buy into.  There are other coincidences that are equally hard to completely swallow, like a built-in babysitter neighbor who always seems to be around when Sara needs to go out or work late, etc. 

The Family Man is a nice story and one that a reader will enjoy.  It has a good hero and heroine, as long as one is not expecting great depth and fully drawn characters.  

--Shirley Lyons

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