Tubac's Terrific Trio, three high school students who shared the nickname in tenth grade during lengthily bus trips. A more unlikely group of friends couldn't exist. Brad was the outgoing prom king, Kirsten was the sheltered princess, and J.D. was the loner who knew they would never understand his gritty life. Eight years after high school, Kirsten divorces Brad, and when he doesn't return them following a summer visitation, only J.D. can help her find the kids.
Now Detective Ryder, J.D. immerses himself in his work, living his life through his job. He doesn't believe he has the skill or the knowledge to be a father or a husband, despite his feelings for Kirsten. She deserves a man like Brad, even if the marriage didn't last, rather a man like himself. Brad gave her the kind of life she always wanted with "kids, a heritage of comfort, a refrigerator door full of photos showing traditions she probably took for granted." J.D. doesn't believe himself capable of such a feat.
As a child, J.D. once overheard his parents expressing regret, believing they would do better yet failing so miserably. J.D. believes that "willpower could sometimes make a difference, and when that failed there was always detachment, but nothing could change the blood you were born with." And he was born with tainted blood that could never be a father or husband. Years of secrecy, protecting himself from Child Protective Custody had taught J.D. to keep silence, and even years later, he finds it impossible to share his growing up years with the woman he loves.
Kirsten believes that if J.D. truly doesn't want to be a part of her children's lives, then there's no use second-guessing the decisions they've both made. No use in regretting that he determined what was best for her without ever discussing it with her. She'd only accepted Brad's proposal as an alternative to the endless pain of J.D.'s absence. It took Kristen years to take control of her life, rather than allow her parents and then Brad to dictate her path. She's become fiercely independent, and she finds it impossible to yield control of her search for her children, so J.D. must take her with him, even if her own secret threatens to be exposed.
As a mother who's endured a scenario similar to that described in Home At Last, I have to praise the author's approach and handling of such a challenging plot. A mother's heart is on the line every time children visit a distant parent, especially when a parent shows up at the terminal gate only to learn the children are not aboard the plane. Laurie Campbell's portrayal of the panic, self-recrimination and fear is right on target. Further, Campbell's approach to J.D.'s character is equally extraordinary, vividly creating this wounded and distant man. Very highly recommended.