Finding Ian is Stella Cameron’s first “big” book in the sense that it is neither genre romance nor romantic suspense. It is “women’s fiction.” Though there is a romance between Byron Frazer and Jade Perron, the book is more concerned with with Byron and Jade finding themselves rather than each other. Byron also has to make himself known to his son and develop that relationship. Finding Ian tries to cover so much ground in so little time, that the book seems truncated. I only wish it had been one of those long sprawing family sagas – I’ll bet it would have been much better.
Byron Frazer is a well-known psychologist and relationship expert – sort of a kinder, gentler Dr. Laura, albeit one with a genuine psychological background. One day, he cancels all his appointments and televison appearances and takes off for England to the horror of his publicist. When he was only 21, Byron and his wife Lori had a son. Lori died in childbirth and Byron gave the baby for adoption. He was adopted by the Springs, who loved and cared for him. But Mr. and Mrs. Spring died, and and Ian, who is 13, has been taken in by Mrs. Spring’s sister, a starchy maiden lady who looks upon taking care of Ian as her duty, and has no understanding of the boy.
Byron moves to England, ostensibly to write, but really to check on Ian. Byron was raised as an adolescent by an aunt who looked on the raising of him as a duty, and he does not want Ian to suffer as he did. While he is there, he stays in a cottage, that unbeknownst to him, is ready to undergo some renovation. The handyman is Jade Perron, of Perron and Son. Actually, the son is not interested in the business, but Mr. Perron is not about to change the sign – never mind that this hurts his daughter. Jade is Ian’s cousin.
There are lots and lots of plot points and relationships that develop. Jade has a distant relationship with her mother, and feels unappreciated by her father. She is also divorced, but her cheating ex-husband wants her back. In the meantime, Jade is taking care of Rose, the little girl her ex-husband fathered on another woman while he was married to Jade.
Of course Byron falls in love with Jade, but I could not see why. Probably because she was there. Neither of them were particularly vivid in my mind and Jade especially remained a very nebulous character. There are flashbacks to Byron’s unhappy childhood as the son of a violent father and a meek mother. There are hints and clues dropped involving Mysteries and Secrets involving Byron’s marriage and Ian’s birth that are not at all mysterious and secretive to any reader who has been paying attention to the story at all. With all this, the love story is certainly not the main focus of the book, and for me it remained a small and not-very-interesting factor.
Ian is not at all happy since his aunt is not the kind of woman who understands young men. Frankly, I thought she was almost a caricature of the starchy spinster. By the end of the book, we were supposed to sympathize with and like her, but I could not see why. Byron knows Ian is not happy, but he dithers for quite a while before he makes his identity known. When he does, Ian is quite unfazed by it all – he is so calm, so laid back, so saintly almost that I wondered where his teenage hormones were.
Perhaps long-time Stella Cameron fans or readers who most enjoy women’s fiction will find Finding Ian to their liking, but for me there was too much story and too little book, and what book there was had characters not memorable enough to make this a recommended read.