Desert Isle Keeper
Cry No More (#70 on AAR's Top 100 Romances)
An AAR Top 100 Romance
originally published on January 7, 2003
Cry No More is particularly apt title, since I cried my way throughout this read. Here’s your warning: anyone sensitive to child abductions may want to avoid this book. Linda Howard pulls off an amazing story that touched me so deeply that after finishing it I needed to decompress before returning to reality. However, I’m not sure I would have understood the fundamental emotions of the heroine if I didn’t have a two-year-old child of my own. Having a child made everything much more real and terrifying for me.
Milla Edge Boone was married to David, a surgeon, and had a darling infant son named Justin. The family lived in Mexico while David performed pro bono surgical services. Shortly before returning to the U.S., Milla took Justin to the market with her, and a parent’s worst nightmare occurred – someone stole her son. They had to stab her in the kidney to pry him away from her, and though she managed to permanently blind one of the perpetrators in a fierce battle for her son, they were able to steal him away.
Flash forward ten years. Now divorced, Milla is the founder of a group called Finders. Finders specializes in finding lost loved ones, children mainly. The group works closely with the police and receives calls from throughout the U.S. when a child goes missing. Milla bases the group out of El Paso and works tirelessly to help find the missing loved ones. David pays Milla alimony so that she can continue her work, and also to fund her search for their missing son. Milla never gave up on Justin, even though her own siblings have told her she is obsessed and should move on with her life. David still grieves for Justin too, but as Milla’s search for Justin became the focus of her life, they grew apart.
Milla has finally obtained solid lead in her search. She believes a man named Diaz might have information concerning Justin’s abduction. When she meets Diaz, she knows he is not the man who took her son, but he does have information about the man she blinded. Diaz is a bounty hunter/assasin. He hunts down the scum of the earth and may or may not kill them, depending on the situation. His name is known in Mexico and fear follows him. For his own reasons, he decides to help Milla find information regarding Justin.
I loved Milla, could feel her suffering, and understand her motivations. There’s a heartbreaking scene in which she picks up interesting stones for Justin because she knows little boys like to play with rocks, and then realizes that maybe Justin is now too old for rocks. She personifies every mother who has lost a child. Her search for Justin, and then the painful process of learning how to live and love again, were gut wrenching.
Diaz is a harder character to know. However, once he decides he wants Milla, he opens up with her more about himself and his background. He’s my favorite type of hero, dark and dangerous. He lives on the edge, and has no problems threatening or killing those he hunts. It’s hinted that he has government permission for much of his work. At one point in the story, Diaz does something unbelievably hurtful to Milla as her search progressed. He paid for it emotionally, and I was glad.
The villains involved in this book were the most terrifying of all. Their complete lack of regard for the parents of the children they abduct, not to mention the children themselves, was horrific. The things they did for money and their actions toward Milla were appalling.
Readers should also be warned that the one of the villains receives his just desserts, but the manner in which it was delivered initially bothered me so much I wasn’t sure I could continue reading the book. Then I thought about it for a while and decided it might work that way after all. That scene, and the fact that although I loved this book, I might not be emotionally able to read it again, are the only drawbacks to this intense read.
Linda Howard has pulled no punches with her emotional content here, and it was a roller coaster of a ride, no doubt about it. If you’ve ever been disappointed by Howard, I highly recommend giving her another chance with Cry No More. It’s definitely one of her best and I’m keeping it on my keeper shelf. Maybe in twenty years I might be able to read it again.