The Truth About Family
by Kimberly Van Meter
(Harl. Super Rom. #1391, $5.50, G) ISBN 0-373-71391-6
***
The Truth About Family is a story about the need to figure out the past and separate the truth from the lies in order to move on to the future. It is a plot that has been used before, but the twists and turns make this much more than just run of the mill.

Erin McNulty left Granite Hills, Michigan, after graduating from school and she never wanted to return. Her father, Charlie, who was an alcoholic and had beaten her up once, still lived there, as did her Aunt Caroline. Aunt Caroline had raised her after the beating. Her mother had committed suicide when she was just six. Erin had never forgiven her father and kept making excuses not to return. She had moved to San Francisco, gotten a job as a photographer with a big magazine and was forging ahead in her career. In fact she was starting to make a name and was hoping for a big promotion soon. Her life was turned upside down one day when a policeman from Granite Hills called to say her aunt had been killed and her father put into a coma in a car accident.

She reluctantly returns, mainly to care for her auntís dog and house at which time she meets policeman Colin Barrett. Colin brought his young daughter to Granite Hills in order to be closer to his family, who had all moved to Michigan over the years. Danni is 13 now and starting to be a rebellious teenager. Her journey into rebellion was propelled when she discovered that Colin had lied to her about her motherís death. His ex-wife had died of a drug overdose but Colin had told her she had died much earlier in a car accident. Now he has to find a way to help her understand that he was only trying to protect her from this and other unpleasant truths.

There are plenty of mysteries and half-truths that the reader must figure out along with the characters. When Colin investigates the accident that killed Caroline, he discovers that the brake line had been cut. He starts to probe into Charlie and Carolineís lives searching for why someone was trying to kill them. He finds things that cause Erin to question her memory and her beliefs about her life.

A large part of the tale revolves around Colin and Erin discovering an attraction as they wade through the many pieces of information they gather. This attraction is slow to develop, which seemed natural and added to the realism that is evident throughout the story. It also adds to the reward for the reader in seeing them fall in love. Much of the ďactionĒ is introspection from both Erin and Colinís stand points. This allows the reader to see all their thoughts and makes them equally sympathetic. If the tale had continued in this vein, however, it could have bogged down and become maudlin. Instead the author injects a series of surprises about the people and their past that pushes the characters into action in an entertaining mystery plot. This mystery sets the tale apart. Sadly, the author didnít really have a great ending, so she introduced the bad guy at the end totally out of the blue. This lack of a strong finish keeps the rating at just three hearts.

The Truth About Family falters a little at the end, but it is still an enjoyable story about life, love, lies and finding the truth.

--Shirley Lyons


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