Burning Secrets
by Elizabeth Sinclair
(SRS #1546, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-33-27616-5
Karen Ellis had been estranged from her beautiful sister Samantha since childhood. Karen believed herself to be the ugly unwanted child as her sister was dragged from one beauty show to another. Finally as an adult, Karen realizes this was her mother's choice not her sister's and in her first step toward reconciliation shares with her sister the fact that she is pregnant.

The problem with the pregnancy is that the father Paul, a firefighting ranger, has just been killed fighting a fire in upstate New York. He had never been very forthcoming about his family and Karen has been unsuccessful in trying to find them; she wants her unborn child to have some sense of family.

She tells her sister Sam. who is also an arson investigator. that she is going to Bristol, New York, near where the fatal fire occurred to attempt to trace his family. She has the name of his best friend, Jesse Kingston, and her plan is to find and talk with him.

Upon arrival in the small town, she runs into Jesse at the town diner immediately. Getting him to talk is yet another proposition. His baggage came from his early years, when his mother left the small town; embittered, his father turned into an unloving tower of strength. Walling his emotions up, Jesse has lived his life avoiding even his stepsisters' gestures of affection.

He also does not know quite how to deal with Karen and her problem as he knows Paul was married with a family. He is concerned with the cause of the accident and reluctantly takes Karen to the scene. There he meets his boss Hank who gruffly orders him away from the scene arousing suspicions in both Karen and Paul.

This story is somewhat loosely drawn as the plot goes forward utilizing accidental happenings much too frequently. Paul is mired in his own angst and Karen, all too quickly for credibility, falls in love with him and seeks to break down his emotional walls.

The suspense side of the novel is much the weaker plot as it unwinds by one unrelated coincidence leading to another. If one is willing to suspend disbelief that anything could be quite this easy, then the story's largest stumbling block has been surmounted.  First time readers might be wise to select another Elizabeth Sinclair story to start.

--Thea Davis

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