Almost Home

Barbara Freethy, Author Avon Books $6.5 (384p) ISBN 978-0-380-79482-9

When Katherine Whitfield finds a chest containing some of her deceased mother's mementos, she leaves her sophisticated life in L.A. for Kentucky's thoroughbred-racing country, hoping to find the father she never knew. Armed with a quilt, a cufflink and a letter addressed to a man identified only by the initial J, Kat begins her search. But it seems every man in town has a name beginning with J, and every one of them has something to hide. Her only friend is Zach Tyler, a rough-hewn horse trainer. Zach supports her against the town's slimy characters but stands to lose everything when Kat discovers the truth about her parents. While stock ingredients--tortured hero, driven heroine, secrets galore--keep the story moving at a brisk pace, it's the behind-the-scenes peek at the world of horse racing that gives substance to Freethy's latest offering (after The Sweetest Thing). (Jan.)