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REVIEW: Not Without Her Family by Beth Andrews

Dear Ms. Andrews:

037371496301lzzzzzzzI’m participating in Keishon’s TBR challenge. Last year I signed up and did all of one challenge read. This year, I was determined to be more consistent. It helps that two of other compadres of mine here at Dear Author are participating as well. While technically not in my TBR pile, this Not Without Her Family fulfilled two requirements. It was given a DIK review at AAR and it was available in ebook form. Rike gave it a straight A grade.    

Kelsey Reagan has come to Serenity Springs to try to forge a relationship with her half brother, Dillon, who went to prison for killing their stepfather over 10 years ago. Dillon served five years in a federal prison and then took off, leaving virtually no trial behind. Kelsey was able to track Dillon down, though, in a small town in New York. (It’s never mentioned how an unemployed waitress was able to track anyone down, particularly an ex-con who didn’t want to be found).

Dillon is working as a carpenter/handyman around Serenity Springs. His current job is helping to renovate an old bar recently purchased by Allie Martin, sister of the local Chief of Police, Jack Martin. Jack is less than thrilled with Allie’s choices, of her leaving her job as a high powered lawyer in NY, of buying the run down bar, and of hiring an ex con whose crime was murder. Jack becomes even more concerned for Allie when he spies Kelsey entering Allie’s bar during its off hours. Despite the fact that Jack initially believes that Kelsey is stealing money and despite Kelsey’s innate distrust for law enforcement, the two are immediately thinking of how hot the other one is. This attraction is complicated by the fact that a prominent member of the community is killed and Dillon becomes the prime suspect.

Their “mental lusting” wasn’t intrusive because it was present, but because it was present at such awkward moments. Jack is lusting after someone he thinks is about to steal or has stolen from his sister. Kelsey is turned on by some “Sheriff” (as she calls him) despite being wrongfully accused AND despite her very negative past experiences with law enforcement that led to the wrongful imprisonment of her brother.

This book is readable and the characters are likeable, yet there wasn’t much beneath the surface that would sustain me for another read. Kelsey didn’t show any character development. She had run away from New York City because things were getting tough at her waitressing job. She was determined to stay in Serenity Springs but how much of that was really due to wanting to get to know Dillon and reconnecting with him and how much of it was her feelings for Jack is indecipherable. I wanted to see Kesley make proactive choices for herself, but I felt like she was more of a reactor to her environment. She seemed to continue the same bad habits that she was running away from in New York and this time was different only because her partner, Jack, wasn’t an asshole.

I found her character to be internally inconsistent. Had she learned from her past impulsive ways as she asserted to her brother Dillon because all her actions with Jack lacked any real thought. I did appreciate that she was uncomfortable around Jack’s daughter.

Jack was similarly a flat character. He had lost his wife four years ago but wasn’t pining her loss even though he loved her. He had a daughter and while he struggled with parenting from time to time, it was clear he was a good dad. He was good at his job, generally well liked. There was no conflict in him, even when there should have been.

Jack and Kesley become intimately involved despite Dillon being the number one suspect in Jack’s murder investigation. This should have been enough to at least keep the two out of bed with one another. Jack didn’t even try to keep his job separate from his relationship with Kelsey, often telling her his intentions of arresting or not arresting Dillon.

Finally, the small town setting was underutilized. We knew that Kelsey was mistreated by the townspeople, but only because we are told so. We aren’t allowed to see any of the interaction Kelsey has with people in town other than Jack, his daughter, and Allie. In fact, I think that the problem with much of the book was the telling versus showing. What we are allowed to see is Kelsey and Jack’s attraction to each other, the physical consummation of their attraction and Jack’s pursuit of the murderer. We are told about Dillon and Kelsey’s ostracization and the trouble Jack might be in for not arresting Dillon, Kelsey’s hatred for law enforcement, Jack’s worry about being involved with someone lacking trustworthiness, but it’s never shown to us. When I looked through my notes of the book, I had alot of awkward references because there were emotional scenes placed in the story where I hadn’t been adequately prepared through plot development.

I did like the police procedure part of the story. I thought that was interesting because I actually saw Jack doing something. The whodunit part, though, was fairly obvious early on. I’d be interested in reading Dillon’s story but this wasn’t a keeper for me. C

Best regards,


This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. KarLynP
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 16:39:00

    Good review. I read this last year based on the AAR review, and felt like I may have been played the fool. This book was good, but a DIK? I typically trust their reviews, (even though I don’t always agree with them), but I wondered about this one. With that said I would read more by this author if one of her books found its way into my TBR, but I dont think I would search it out. It was a nice quick romance read, but that was it.

  2. DS
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 18:05:00

    What was he doing in a Federal and not state Prison? I assume he must have been released early for some reason because the base sentence for involuntary manslaughter was 10 years if I remember correctly.

    Sorry, this sort of thing is why I have a hard time with romances dealing with some subjects. If the answer to either question is a spoiler just say so and that’s enough. It’s highly unlikely I am going to read this one any way.

  3. vanessa jaye
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 20:04:03

    Different strokes. I read this one last year and loved it. (Think I’d been in a reading slump and this story hit the right spot). Just really loved the hero/heroine, and although I’m not a big fan of kids in romances, the hero’s daughter really worked for me.

  4. Jane
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 20:22:02

    @DS I’m not sure what he is doing in federal prison. I went back to check on what the book said to ensure I didn’t get that wrong: “He wasn't going to apologize for distrusting Dillon Ward. Of course, it was true that Ward had managed to stay out of trouble since being released from federal prison, but Jack wasn't about to let his guard down. ”


    ” Because he'd had to save her, Dillon spent close to five years locked up.
    Dillon told her he didn't want her to visit or write him again. She'd let him push her away, had allowed her pain-‘and her guilt-‘to keep her away.
    Even then, she never gave up on him. She'd found an attorney willing to take his case, one who'd been able to get his sentence reduced. But by the time she'd gotten up the courage to face him again, Dillon had disappeared from Ohio and her life.”

    So, dunno. I’m not conversant in criminal law, although I should have known the federal/state prison thing. I guess there was some magical PCR.

  5. Tae
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 20:26:44

    wow…this review made me not want to read this
    I also dislike when things are unexplained (i.e. the unemployed waitress finding her ex-con brother in hiding). When I read fantasy and sci/fi I can turn off the ‘credibility’ part of my brain, but not when I’m reading contemporary romance. It just doesn’t seem well thought out and I can’t suspend my belief that much.

  6. Kaetrin
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 23:26:05

    what’s “PCR”?

  7. Jane
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 23:30:10

    @Kaetrin Post conviction relief.

  8. DS
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 08:32:16

    Thanks Jane. That’s the sort of thing that would niggle at the edge of my thoughts all through a book. Magical PCR indeed.

  9. Michelle
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 15:40:21

    I do remember buying and reading this book because of the A grade on AAR and I tend to like Superromance. I barely remember anything beyond that except that I was disappointed and did not feel it was much above average – if that.

    I do like category though and appreciate that DA reviews it and holds it up to high standards.

  10. library addict
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 01:14:48

    I agree with Jane that this book was merely an average read. The thing that bugged me the most was Jack's attitude about Dillon. He's supposed to be jaded by his time spent in the big, bad city, but it didn't seem realistic to me that he would suspect Dillon of the murder simply because he'd been in prison previously. Also, the interaction between Dillon and Kelsey was minimal in the story and I had a hard time believing they wouldn't have talked (or at least argued) more.

    I did like the setting for the book. I don't remember Jack's having another sister besides Allie in the book (and I just read it a few days ago), but apparently he does. Rachel Martin is the heroine of Beth Andrews' current on-line read at eHarlequin, His Perfect Match. The hero is Jack’s friend, Seth Valentine (him I remember – LOL). Dillon's story, A Not-So-Perfect Past, is out in April. I was intrigued enough by Seth and Dillon that I want to read them both. Here’s hoping their stories are more interesting.

  11. Jane
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 07:48:00

    @library addict I’ll wait to hear what you think of those books. I’m not opposed to trying Beth Andrews again.

  12. Ariel
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 05:07:55

    I bought this book last year but I JUST finally got to reading it this year. I own a lot of unread books. Anyway, I couldn’t begin to tell you how impressed I was with this novel. Was this Beth Andrews’ first novel ever or just first for Harlequin?

    Anyway, the characters were all lovable, considerate and scared. Very much alive and real feeling and I love that about books. This is a great read! Though I wish the book would’ve had some interaction with Dillon or Kelsey vs. the town’s people. It was clear there was some animosity there but we didn’t get to see it with strangers. Just the books main and key players. That would have made for an interesting read. But overall, awesome book.

    I liked how Jack was with his six year old daughter Emma. You don’t particularly see single Dads managing to raise little girls without looking for female guidance; along while working a full-time job all on their own. But Jack was up there doing it. He did have his sister to go to though. And I partially liked how he was with Kelsey and how she was with him. I found myself believing their story and cheering for each of their happy endings. They deserved it.

  13. Ariel
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 05:15:01

    Oh and I kind of found myself nodding when Kelsey confessed her troubled childhood to Jack. It was really moving. It felt like I was standing in the room, the text coming right off the pages! I wished the DA would have let her grace the witness stand to save her brother but they probably would have used her troubled youth as fuel to get Dillon more time.

  14. library addict
    Jul 19, 2009 @ 23:57:51

    The on-line read at eHarlequin, His Perfect Match, was way too short. I wanted to read more about Seth and Rachel.

    Even though I had some issues with the actions of Dillon and Nina (as well as those of several supporting characters) in A Not-So-Perfect Past overall I enjoyed it more than Not Without Her Family.

    I think Beth Andrews is an author to watch. Even when the plot is clichéd, there's just something about her writing that makes me want to keep reading.

  15. RITA Open Thread | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Mar 26, 2010 @ 14:02:30

    […] I haven’t reviewed but I did like.  We’ve reviewed other books by McAllister.  Jayne reviewed a book from Beth Andrews, Not Without Her Family.  I’ve been reading the Helen Brenna series […]

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