Egan Cassidy's Kid
I know all readers have favorite comfort reads and books that they consider their guilty pleasure. Beverly Barton’s books are my comfort read and I refuse to feel guilty about the pleasure they give me. Yes, there are other writers of series romance who are more polished, but Barton is a good storyteller, and her heroes are wonderfully hairy chested and alpha and they seldom act like jerks – and when they fall in love, they really fall hard. I just love them. Egan Cassidy’s Kid is one of the dreaded secret baby stories, but since it seems that these kind of tales are not going away any time soon, I’ve resolved to take each one on its own, and I ended up having a pretty good time with this one.
Egan Cassidy is a sensitive alpha guy. Alpha in that he is a former mercenary, he’s really big (6 feet 3 inches) and now works for a private security company, the Dundee Agency. Sensitive in that he is a wonderful cook, his bachelor pad is decorated with fine antiques instead of beer cans and dust bunnies, and he writes poetry under a pen name. Egan grew up dirt poor and lower class. When he was 18, he was drafted and served in Vietnam where he was captured and spent a year in a POW camp. One of the men in the camp, Grant Cullen, had all the advantages Egan did not – he was a West Point graduate and came from an upper class family. While in captivity, Cullen gave the Viet Cong information in exchange for good treatment. Egan saw this and when they got out of the camp, he told the authorities and his word was corroborated by a captured Viet Cong officer. Cullen was disgraced, and only his family connections saved him from prison. He is filled with bitterness and hatred toward Egan and has sworn to make him suffer.
Maggie Douglas lives in Atlanta with her teenage son Bentley (Bent). Maggie’s brother was a Vietnam veteran who was deeply scarred by his experience and eventually committed suicide. Egan came to his funeral – Maggie’s brother had saved Egan’s life and he came to pay his last respects to his old friend. Maggie and Egan had a passionate affair, but Egan made it clear “no committments” and left without knowing that Maggie was pregnant. Maggie married an old boyfriend whom she later divorced, but she put Egan’s name on the birth certificate as Bent’s father. Since their affair, neither has been able to forget the other.
Cullen finds out that Egan has a son and kidnaps Bent, then sends word that Egan and Maggie have to come to get him. Egan is dumbstruck – he had no idea he had a son, but he immediately marshalls his fellow agents from the Dundee company and hatches a plan of rescue.
The length constraints of the series formats caused some problems because Egan Cassidy’s Kid is half a plot-driven and half a character-driven story. While the book had the potential to be very exciting with ample opportunity for rescues and derring-do, the action was rushed. On the character front, the book had Egan and Maggie trying to rekindle their love as well as Egan trying to forge a relationship with his son. That’s a whole lot to ask of a short novel; the book would have worked better had it been a full-length, single title contemporary rather than a series romance.
Even though I had some problems with the plot of Egan Cassady’s Kid, the characters made it enjoyable. Egan is as strong, tender and protective as an Alpha can be and Maggie is wonderful – smart, intelligent, feminine and strong. She never whines, she lets Egan know how much he hurt her, but when he explains his reasons for leaving her years ago, she listens, doesn’t go into a snit, and acts like an adult – unlike some romance novel heroines I can think of.
Maggie’s son Bent is maybe a little too-good-to-be-true for a 14 year old boy, but I still liked him. His bitterness toward Egan was understandable, but he was mature enough to finally understand the reasons behind his acting as he did and they do come to terms, too quickly, but I blame the short length for that. The employees of the Dundee Security Agency feature quite prominently in this book and I know that we will see them in future installments of The Protectors series. I’m especially looking forward to the story of the CEO of the Dundee Agency, Ellen (my favorite name) Denby.
All in all, Egan Cassady’s Kid was a satisfying read for me, because I liked the characters so much. There is something about a sensitive Alpha man that simply gets to me and Beverly Barton’s guys are some of my favorites. As long as she keeps writing, I’ll keep reading.