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Brie's Corner

Supervillain book reviewer. Lover of secret pains and purple proses. I review over at Romance Around the Corner.

Unraveling the Past - Beth Andrews Originally posted at Romance Around the CornerI have read and enjoyed most of Ms. Andrews’ books, so when I saw this one on NetGalley I was pleasantly surprised and didn’t hesitate to request it.Ross Taylor is the new Chief of Police in a small town. He got the job over one of the locals, Captain Layne Sullivan. She isn’t happy than a hot-shot city detective took the position she was aiming for, so their relationship is quite strained. But Ross has enough to worry as it is, because the reason he moved to the small town was to give his troubled niece a better environment. But the niece is having none of that so he’s struggling. And now he also has to deal with Layne.The book opens whit the niece at a party getting drunk and having sex, when the police arrives –Ross and Layne included– she ends up getting a reprimand and also finding human skull. Next to the skull is a necklace that Layne recognizes as belonging to her mother, the same mother who abandoned her family years ago, leaving Layne in charge of her sisters. But when the remains are identified as her mother, Layne and Ross must leave their differences aside and work together.This book was part romantic suspense, part family drama, and as a result it lacked a clear focus. It had all sort of conflicts that weren’t properly addressed and resolved. Every subplot was interesting and had potential, but they weren’t developed enough. Every time I became invested in one of the characters, the story was cut short to make room for the next one. The first subplot is the mystery of what happened to the mother. This is a three-book series, one for each sister, so there’s an ongoing investigation and it won’t be resolved until the last book. So there’s a cliffhanger because we don’t find who did it. However, the mystery is bland and not that mysterious at all. The only suspect I have, the stepmom, may, or may not be the murderer, but I really don’t care. I thought this subplot was here to serve as an excuse for the hero and heroine to work together and fall in love (and I bet it does the same for the next couple). The second subplot is Ross having to take care of his niece. He is absolutely clueless, and although he has good intentions and clearly loves her, he made a big sacrifice for her and at times resents her for it. Their relationship was one of my favorite parts of the book and I wish we had seen more of it, in fact, this alone, plus the romance, would have been enough to make a good book. I was so happy to see that their relationship was difficult and strained, that she didn’t make things easier by being cute, and that he was painfully unaware of her needs. It was an honest and realistic portrayal of a relationship between a teenager that was utterly lost and alone, and an adult that wanted to do what was best for her but didn’t know where to start – he probably didn’t even know what was best for her.The third subplot involves the niece falling in love with a college student and lying about her age (she’s 15), and the guy realizing her deception and breaking up with her just when she was ready to be a better person and stop having indiscriminating sex all in the name of love. This was another favorite part, and the only cliffhanger that bothered me because theirs is also an ongoing romance so we don’t get a resolution. The fourth subplot involves one of the sisters being a mess. We all know that when the heroine has to take care of her younger sisters, chances are that one is an angel, and the other a slutty wild child. This is the slutty one, but of course she’s probably just misunderstood. Intriguing character but more sequel bait than anything else. And finally there’s the actual romance. Again, lots of potential but got lost in the middle of a story full of stories. The idea was interesting: she resented him but was able to recognize his strengths, and then they engage in a sexual relationship even though they aren’t just coworkers, but he’s also her superior. How is this resolved? Almost by magic and in a way that only works because the rule of the HEA says it does. Real life doesn’t work that way.Can you see the potential? Because now that I’m writing the review I see how interesting all these ideas were. The problem is that they don’t work all at once crammed into a category length novel. I wonder if my opinion would be different had I read all three books back-to-back. But that’s beside the point because I believe that books should be able to stand alone even if they belong to a series, or at least they shouldn’t depend on the other books to be enjoyable and satisfying. Unraveling the past had some enjoyable parts, but it was unsatisfying.Oh! And in case you were wondering, yes, I'm going to read the next two books; I have to know who did it.Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes.