Poarch's novel starts out swinging. Desiree Prescott is expecting a call from her overbearing mother-in-law to be, but instead she gets her eccentric Aunt Nadine from Macon, Ga. Nadine nonchalantly mentions that Desiree's dad had a long-lost son who recently died in an accident with his wife. They left behind three children who are wards of the state and living with their parents' professional baseball player neighbors.
Desiree leaves New York for Atlanta. Her father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and Desiree spent most of her life dealing with his episodes whenever he refused to take his medication. She knows there's no way he could care for his grandchildren.
Gerard Kingsley thrives in his role as surrogate father to the Payne children. He's not so great at dealing with a personal life that includes a girlfriend determined to get him to the altar, parents who do not approve of his life as a baseball player and, soon, his growing attraction to Desiree.
As Desiree and Gerard deal with their developing relationship and Desiree's parental responsibilities, Poarch skillfully shows the multiple layers of the main and secondary characters while telling a story of mental illness, complex family relationships and the meaning of family. A definite keeper! (Jul., 320 pp., $6.99)