Her Best Man

Her Second Chance Family

Safe in His Arms by Christine Scott
(Silh. Int. Mom #1002, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-27072-0
Jessie Pierce is a woman who is repeatedly haunted by the same, unexplained nightmare. She has no memory of her life before five years of age. It is not until her adoptive mother dies that she learns from the estate attorney that she was adopted when she was five.

As part of the estate, she inherits Gull Cottage on Prudence Island and is told that this is where she was born and lived until the adoption. Jessie is a children's book illustrator and able to work from her home office, so the idea of going to Gull Cottage to find her roots poses no economic problem.

As Jessie approaches the island, she nearly collides with a slow moving pick-up truck, and her car is damaged. The driver hops out to help, but when he discovers who she is, he gets back in his truck and angrily drives away, agreeing only to send a tow truck. When Jessie finally arrives on the island, she is confronted by strange reactions from the local residents.

The house terrifies her, especially the kitchen. A well-meaning reclusive neighbor named Dora tells her that her mother was murdered in the house. Hurrying to the library, she finds that the man who was convicted of the murder looks like the angry pick-up driver. She subsequently learns that the driver is Samuel Connors, the manís son.

Jessie is convinced Samuelís father did not kill her mother, because Samuel looks like him and she doesn't feel threatened. Armed with this belief, she wins Samuel over and enlists his help to discover who really killed her mother.

Safe in His Arms is a story of anguish. Jessie is burdened by the subconscious pain of a mysterious past. Samuel has been living as a second class citizen in small southern community on an island that has never forgotten his father's egregious act, or the fact that he is the progeny of evil. Both are, as a consequence, emotionally isolated. And there are very few secondary characters to draw attention away from their angst

When a suspense novel has only three secondary characters, the chances are very high that even a reader new to the genre will be able to identify the killer. The characters are developed solely within the framework of their anxiety. The romance side of the novel also travels along a predictable and relaxed road, lacking in real tension.

Regardless of the genre, one-dimensional novels tend to be superficial at best. Without interesting dialogue, or characters that the reader can genuinely care about, there is little to recommend in Safe in His Arms.

--Thea Davis

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