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Lost Cause    by Janice Kay Johnson order for
Lost Cause
by Janice Kay Johnson
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton

This is the second in a trilogy centering on siblings separated after their parents died in a car accident. The previous book introduced the eldest, Suzanne Chauvin, who was six at the time of the accident. Suzanne was sent to live with her maternal aunt, while the others were adopted by different parents.

Middle child Gary (Lucien) was adopted by a farmer and his wife. Unfortunately, his childhood was not a happy one. He was abused, and it became worse when his adoptive mother finally left her husband. As an adult Gary feels he no need for family, and has kept friends at arm's length. He has a lot of issues and vows to never have children, afraid to follow in his father's footsteps. Though Gary does have vague memories of a happier time (he lost his parents at age three), most of his memories center on his adopted family.

Suzanne had already reunited with her sister Carrie. After asking Gary to meet them and being rejected, she does not expect him to show up on her front steps. The timing is bad, as she's about to be interviewed by a social worker about adopting a baby. Rebecca, employed by The Complete Family Adoption Agency, feels it best they reschedule. Suzanne invites Gary to stay with her while he is in town (a suburb of Seattle). Gary feels uncomfortable and overwhelmed by Suzanne's generosity. She barely knows him! But they slowly cultivate a relationship and catch up on the twenty-six years they missed. Gary gets involved with Rebecca against his best instincts. Their unlikely friendship and love affair is something that neither expected.

Lost Cause touches on several themes but centers on children given away for adoption, and how it impacts them as adults. Because Suzanne, Carrie and Gary all had unique experiences, they turned out differently. Gary had the least happy childhood, which saddens Carrie and Suzanne, who want desperately to make it up to him. Gary despises pity, but feels drawn to them. He has memories, however faint, and is torn between running the other way and walking into their family embrace. While I found her a very unlikely match for Gary, Rebecca does draw him out. He comes across as a rebel, but deep down has a heart of gold.

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