Code of Honor

Cop of the Year

Feel the Heat

Just One Night

The Man Who
Loved Christmas

Finally a Family by Kathryn Shay
(Harl. Super #908, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-70908-0
Only a romance reader who's been living under a rock wouldn't know who category author Kathryn Shay is. Her fire fighter books garnered an unprecedented five-heart rating for all three books, with three different reviewers joining in on the praise. While Finally a Family isn't part of the fire fighting series, it does carry on Shay's tradition of featuring careers that revolve around community service. This time, it's a search and rescue operation with a helicopter ambulance unit.

Alexis Castle is at Catasagna Lake for several reasons. She's taking some down time from her high pressure job, a job with such tension that Alexis was hospitalized with an ulcer. She also wants to reestablish a relationship with her teenaged daughter Jamie. Another reason is that she's going to evaluate Guardian Flight Base, a medevac unit, to see if it merits a grant from Castle Enterprises, her family's corporation. This grant would be a godsend for Guardian and would enable it to buy a badly needed second helicopter.

Helicopter pilot Spencer Keagan decides instantly that Alexis is another corporate suit, someone with all the emotions of the Tin Woodsman. She doesn't even have time to spend with her daughter, much to his irritation. As luck would have it, Alexis and Spence will be neighbors, thrown together by the gentle machinations of her daughter and his son.

Ironically, Spence and Alexis share a similar background. Spence rebelled when his father wanted him to go into corporate America, while Alexis has molded herself to be her father's right-hand man, trying to fill her dead brother's place in her father's life. When Spence's son was young, he didn't have time for the boy. Now he sees Alexis reacting the same way he did.

Their biggest obstacle will be trying to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Alexis' first love, Jamie's dad, had been accused by her father of romancing Alexis to further his career. Considering that he accepted the old man's money, it might be true. Alexis is torn between telling the world that she cares for Spence and making sure that he isn't another man out just to get her money. What appears to be caution to her reeks of lack of trust to Spence.

The length of a Super Romance does lend itself to more character development. Spence's father and his son, Alexis' father and her daughter, plus assorted friend and neighbors, all give this story extra depth and added interest. At least three subplots are ongoing, subplots that give substance and support to the total story.

The only gripe I have with this story is Spence's short fuse. It's as though he's judge and jury, often finding Alexis guilty without benefit of her testimony. And when he throws a two-carat diamond into the lake in what I considered a sophomoric fit, I wanted to sock him. While I wouldn't insult him by calling him immature, let's just say that his compromise skills were a bit rusty.

Kathryn Shay's commitment to her research shows. These people who work for Guardian are realistically portrayed, down to their tears and their despair when they've lost a patient. I'm very glad finally to have read a Kathryn Shay book. While I can't give Finally a Family my highest accolades, I can easily recommend it. You'll be intrigued with this couple who may finally have gotten it right.

--Linda Mowery

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