Love in Plain Sight
By Jeanie London
Publisher: Harlequin (Superromance)
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Courtney Gerard, sister of Mac Gerard (With This Fling, Harlequin Blaze, 2004), may have grown up a child of privilege, but that doesn’t mean that she has not committed her heart as well as her considerable intelligence and energy to doing her best in her position as a caseworker for the New Orleans Department of Children and Family Services. She is shocked and troubled when a classroom fight uncovers a major error in a file she inherited from a deceased co-worker. The teenager on the department’s records as Araceli Ruiz-Ortiz is someone else. Somehow in the chaos after Katrina, a mistake was made, and it is only been discovered eight years later. No one knows what happened to the real Araceli. While the case is being investigated, Courtney is placed on administrative leave.
Marc DiLeo, younger brother of Dominic DiLeo (Then There Were Three, Harlequin Superromance, 2011), was a bounty hunter bringing in big bucks tracking down wealthy “skips” until an accident left him with a shattered leg and a no choice but to take a break from his job with its physical demands. At the insistence of his loving family, he left Colorado Springs and is back home in New Orleans, caught in a cycle of physical therapy, pain pills, and corroding self-pity. His wise mother thinks he needs something to focus on instead of his own recovery. When Courtney, impatient with the pace of the government investigation and concerned about the missing girl and about the fact that her professional reputation along with those of her supervisor and her dead co-worker are at risk, asks Mama DiLeo if Marc can advise her on how to investigate the case, Mama decides Marc himself should take the job.
Marc refuses, but when all the DiLeo weigh in to persuade him, he decides anything is better than dealing with his family. Since he can’t drive, Courtney is drafted as his chauffeur and assistant. Soon the two of them are chasing leads in an all out effort to find Araceli. The more time they spend together, the more the attraction between them grows. But they are both wary of involvement, and they are both heart deep in their search for the missing girl, who becomes more real to them with every detail they uncover. Will they find Araceli, and will they allow themselves to accept the love that can give them the HEA they never expected to find?
The second of Jeanie London’s DiLeo Family books blends romance and mystery in a story with rich contexts and strong emotional appeal. The details of Araceli’s life and of the chaos confronting the New Orleans Department when their paper records were destroyed by Katrina and the nightmare of tracking the 2000 children who were evacuated from the city grounds Love in Plain Sight in compelling reality. Because London weaves first-person chapters in Araceli’s voice into the novel, the reader cares about her happiness as an individual rather than as a statistic from the early chapters of the book. Since both the Gerard and DiLeo families are introduced in earlier books, London’s fans have expanded contexts for both hero and heroine.
Courtney is a sympathetic character from the beginning, given her genuine concern for her clients and her colleagues, but Marc is a harder sell. A bounty hunter’s job does not immediately evoke sympathy, and frankly Marc comes across as a jerk who fails to appreciate his having survived a near-fatal accident and the love and support of his lively family. He is also deliberately rude to Courtney. But Harley Prince Gerard, Courtney’s sister-in-law and Marc’s practically-a-sister, assures Courtney that Marc is a jerk with a marshmallow center, and as the reader, along with Courtney, begins to see the softness he struggles to hide, Marc becomes more sympathetic. Long before the end, I was rooting for their HEA.
If you like your romances with a touch of realism, a helping of mystery, and a romance with plenty of sizzle and credible complications, I think you will like Love in Plain Sight. I love the DiLeo family, and since there are still unmarried brothers, I hope we see more of them in future books.
I’ve been a fan of family series since I read my first Nora Roberts book, one of her MacGregor family tales, back in 1985. I never tire of them and have a hard time choosing a favorite from among my many keepers. What’s your favorite family series?