Deirdre McDaniel, 33, is a single mother who must face the painful memories lurking in her childhood hometown. Six years after returning there, long-buried secrets surface, and each discovery leads her deeper into her family's deception.

One day she finds a note from her late mother, which sparks her investigation into her mom's past. She seeks out Jake Stone, a P.I. whom she loathes but who will get to the bottom of things. To add further anxiety to her troubles, Deirdre fears her teenage daughter is on the verge of making the same high school mistakes she made. Will Deirdre ever have a family life not riddled with antagonism and loneliness?

Successfully creating high drama without sliding into melodrama is a difficult task. Cates sometimes slips into the latter, which challenges the characters' credibility and pulls the reader out of the narrative. However, the author is also skilled at crafting powerful emotional passages. The descriptive language is beautifully etched, and the poignant sentiments expressed in the novel's final scenes are heartwarming. (Jan., 384 pp., $13.95)
Reviewed by: 
Marilyn Weigel