Unraveling the Past by Beth Andrews (RITA Award Winner 2010 for A Not-So-Perfect Past)
This story is the beginning of a series about the Sullivan sisters, Layne, Tori, and Nora. This book covers a romance for the eldest sister, Layne, introduces the Sullivan family, and much more.
I found Unraveling the Past to be a bit ambitious. It has a romance at the center of the story, but the focus is stretched thin as Andrews also incorporates a cold case murder mystery connected to the Sullivan family. Along with the mystery and developing romance, there is a storyline about the hero's teenage niece. Jess has some serious mommy issues that parallel Layne's. Issues having to do with abandonment and neglect that lead both characters to doubt or not accept love when it is freely given. Mind you, I think that Andrews ties these threads together well. The mystery is used to bring the hero and heroine together, and the niece's issues allow the heroine to see her own, however as a result, the romance suffers from lack of focus -- the niece's thread in particular takes a lot of that focus away from the romance.
The hero of this piece Chief of Police Ross Taylor finds himself caught in a rather awkward situation. His attitude about justice and discipline is black and white, leaving little wiggle room for human error or understanding. This attitude makes the relationship with his troubled teenage niece a nightmare, and his attraction for Assistant Chief Layne Sullivan further complicates matters, particularly while the murder investigation takes place. Ross is not the most sensitive of men and a rather frustrating character until almost the very end. Layne is an accomplished woman with a strong personality she utilizes to hide secrets and vulnerable spots.
The initial relationship between Ross and Layne is hostile and prickly with an underlying attraction that neither acknowledges. As the story moves along, the attraction grows until once together, Ross and Layne steam up the sheets and then some! The deep feelings for each other, the love, needed a bit more cooking in order to work for me. What I did like very much is Andrews' handling of the storyline about Ross' niece Jess. Ross is irritating when unbending, but I found myself liking his very real frustrations with a troubled teenager in this novel -- he was very human in those moments. The love and care behind his irritating reactions to his niece, and his willingness to do what is right made me care for Ross.
It is unfortunate that the two sisters as secondary characters are not likable or interesting enough to make me run and buy their romances. However, I would love to find out if Andrew Sullivan and Ross' niece Jess end up together in the future, and of course, who doesn't want to know the resolution to a murder mystery? I want to know if I'm right in guessing whodunit!
|June 2013 - Lovely RITA
Series: The Truth About the Sullivans, #1
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin/June 1, 2012
Visit Beth Andrews here.
ETA: CLARIFICATION NOTE: My review is of a book by a RITA award winning author. This book by Beth Andrews did not win a RITA.