Daddy By Choice
Daddy By Choice is a baby book. The hero is a former cowboy. The cover is really, really ugly (is that man sewing)? So naturally, I passed it up. No I didn’t. Daddy By Choice is by Paula Detmer Riggs and anyone who can do as she did with Her Secret, His Child, which was to take the old, hackneyed secret baby book plot and make it one of my very favorite series novels, is an automatic buy for me.
So how is the book? It’s good. Despite the elements of the plot, it is not a baby/cowboy book. Instead, like many of Paula Detmer Riggs’ books, it is a story of second chances and the healing and redemptive power of love.
When Luke Jarrod was a cocky 18 year old rodeo cowboy, he met Madelyn Foster, a pretty little 17 year old. They had a passing affair and then Luke went his way. A letter from Maddy did not reach him till it was too late. She had given up their daughter for adoption and when he did come to see her, she sent him off.
Twenty two years later, Madelyn is pregnant again – a very high risk pregnancy complicated by the fact that her husband, who did not want a child, has terminated his rights and responsibilities as a father and has started divorce proceedings. Since Madelyn is such a high risk case, her doctor has referred her to the best specialist in her type of pregnancy – Dr. Luke Jarrod.
Luke was crushed by Maddy’s rejection and after a period of despair, he worked hard and long to become a doctor. He is now the respected and beloved OB/GYN of his adopted town in Oregon, but his friends can’t help but note that he is haunted and lonely. When Maddy comes to him for help, he and she think that they can keep their relationship strictly on a patient/doctor basis, but the attraction that was there twenty two years ago is still there, buried under layers of guilt and resentment.
Most of Daddy By Choice shows how those layers of guilt and resentment are slowly peeled away. Maddy and Luke are presented believably as characters who truly are two parts of a whole. I wanted them to realize that they were meant for each other and agonized with them on the journey. There was no silly Big Misunderstanding in this book; instead there were genuine hurts and true pain in Maddy and Luke’s past. That made the characters realization that they did love each other, and that they always had and always would, very satisfying.
The book did suffer from a few problems. For instance, Luke is from Texas and has a very annoying habit of dropping his g’s. He did not do this consistently, he would go for several pages without doing it and then g’s would be dropping all over the place. Maddy is from Texas too, but she never drops a g. Regional dialects are very hard to do on the printed page and few writers succeed.
More problematical was the sub-plot involving Luke and Maddy’s adopted daughter – it seemed tacked on. She appears fairly late in the book, with too many problems and a bad attitude, and then disappears until the epilogue, by which time her behavior has undergone a total transformation. I’d rather have seen her in her own book.
But despite these minor problems, this is an enjoyable romance. Paula Detmer Riggs is without peer in writing books where two characters get another chance to rekindle the love they once had and then lost through a misunderstanding or mistake. She is also a rare writer who can take what appears to be “just a baby book” and make it something special. If you have not read one of her books before, I envy you – you are in for a special treat.