Finding You
by Maureen Child, contemporary (2003)
St Martin's Press, $5.99, ISBN 0-312-98920-2

Finding You is published in a special "Make Me Your New Josie Litton" edition together with Knowing You. It's part of St Martin's effort to catapult series author Maureen Child into being a household name. These two books, along with the next book Loving You stars the Candellano family. Three siblings, Carla and the twins Paul and Nick all exhibit a perplexing tendency to fall in love with people with caregiving baggages. Finding You is Carla Candellano's story.

Carla is a successful career woman. She was a search and rescue worker until tragedy strikes, and our heroine then flees home to Momma. Now she teaches aspiring puppies to be big rescue doggies. Mama wants her to marry. She says she's not ready to marry. Then comes a man with a Stereotypical Unspeaking Little Girl named Reese. The father Jackson Wyatt naturally wants nobody to be nice to his daughter even as he wonders why his daughter is not speaking. He orders Carla to get lost. Carla immediately spends the night tossing and turning because Jackson is like, wow, so hot. Here's a tip to you aspiring romance heroes out there: yell at her, talk smack about her, and she's all yours.

Of course, Reese sees Carla and the puppies and she just can't stay away from Carla. And Carla keeps meeting her and Jackson so there's just no escape either. Of course, being with a little girl arouses Carla's maternal instincts to make her realize what she is missing in her life all along. But very predictable - and artificial - conflicts arise to keep Jackson and Carla apart, so oh, what will happen in the end?

What indeed. Finding You is packed to bursting point with extremely predictable plot elements and the characters aren't just small town cookie cutter sorts, they are probably the cookie cutter used by other cookie cutter makers to create more cookie cutters. The tedious secondary plot thing doesn't help either. Eldest sibling Tony Candellano is married to Beth, and Beth is now crying because she suspects that Tony is cheating (he's often away for long intervals on most nights). Of course, Tony is not cheating, but when the reasons of his absences on those nights are revealed, my reaction is to bang my head against the wall and wonder why he can't just tell the wife in the first place. It's such a trivial and petty reason for a miscommunication subplot that takes too much space from the story.

Of course this book is readable. That kid Reese doesn't grate. Carla and Jackson are decent characters. But the almost toxic high levels of predictability in the story will be the make or break factor for readers. I can pretty much plot out the entire book after reading just the first twenty pages of the book. After wading through this book on autopilot to the bitter finish, I wonder why I ever bothered.

Rating: 70

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