You need a flow chart to understand the relationships in this book.
Lessee if I can try.
Lara - h
Donovan - H
Reed - h's ex
Sophia - H's sister
Bella - daughter of h and her ex
Cassidy - daughter of Sophia and h's ex
So teenage Lara and equally teenage Donovan were clandestinely involved. Got that? He didn't want her to tell anyone because he didn't think he was good enough or some other such bs.
Teenage Reed and teenage Sophia were involved too.
Both girls got preggers. Reed's father offered Sophia's father money to get her to have an abortion and leave town. She was 16. This was written in 2000 so...sometime in the 80's. Daddy dearest apparently took money and, when she refused to get rid of the baby, tried to beat it out of her. She shot him. Donovan told everyone he did it (because he was stupid really - it was self defense). Donovan refused to see Lara who wanted to tell him of her ah, condition. Her dad and Reed's dad hit upon the brilliant idea of the two marrying - wanting to join families apparently.
16 years later...
Donovan is back in the area, and wants to take up where he left off. Lara isn't having any of it. Sophia tells him he needs to clear the air because in Lara's eyes, he abandoned her. So he does, and finds out about the baby, which she miscarried. They begin this stutter-step of a relationship - him impatient because she doesn't jump in with both feet. Her upset because he's impatient. And her aunt/his sister both giving advice. Belle finds out and is mad. NOT because her mom is sleeping with someone other than her dad, but because she perceives double standards.
Some kid gets raped. Donovan is accused. He'd spent the night with Lara but wouldn't say where he was. She tells the police about the kid's ex who'd been harassing the kid. Her daughter gets bent because she didn't just tell them he was with her at the time. She sees the light and tells the police, about the time the kid's ex is dragged in. Etc.
I'm having just a hard time believing a 12 year old is ok with her mother moving on. I'm having an equally hard time that said 12 year old is ok with her dad moving on. At least her future stepsister reacted badly to discovering the man she thought was her dad wasn't. I expected the kid to act out, be obnoxious, etc. Instead... we get this kid who is wise beyond her years and only reacts badly to her mother having sex, or not telling everyone that the guy couldn't have because they were having sex.
Really, the whole rape plot seemed to just be tacked on to force the h out into the open. Why?! He was apparently ashamed to date HER 16 years ago, why should she want to be seen in public with him now?