Desert Isle Keeper
Her Secret, His Child
I’m beginning to think Tara Taylor Quinn is a find. I very much enjoyed her first single title for Harlequin, last year’s Sheltered in His Arms. It was the first book of hers I’d read, and I went on red alert for her other titles. I’m happy to say that the next one I read, Her Secret, His Child was even better. Lucky me!
Jamie Archer is the single mother of four-year-old Ashley. She is a free-lance accountant, and she’s finally gotten her life on track after a number of troubling mistakes she made earlier in her life. Now she’s got everything she wants: a good home, a steady income, supportive friends, and, most importantly, her beautiful daughter. The only thing that’s nagging at her is Ashley’s questions about her father. Jamie doesn’t have ready answers for her, and she doesn’t especially want to explore that dangerous territory. Then one day, Ashley’s father calls Jamie out of the blue. . . .
Kyle Radcliff has just moved to Larkspur Grove, Colorado, and he’s looking for an accountant. He’s a brilliant English professor, but he’s a little bad about remembering details, and needs some help keeping things straight. When he meets the accountant he’s hired though, he’s in for a shock. This woman, Jamie, is the woman he met five years ago at a difficult time in his life, and whom he’s been looking for ever since. So why is she here in Larkspur Grove, and why can’t she look him in the eye? Didn’t they have something special together all those years ago? Something worth pursuing again?
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, this is a secret baby book, no getting around it. And generally speaking, I don’t like this plot. I get angry with the mother, I wind up thinking the father is a loser…yadda, yadda, yadda. But, just as she did in Sheltered in His Arms, Quinn took a situation that I don’t particularly like and redeemed it with powerful writing. And this book is powerful. It’s a two-hanky read.
Both Jamie and Kyle are extremely likable and have a great deal of integrity. I wanted them to get together, and I thought they deserved their happiness. And, thankfully, there were no Big Misunderstandings. The characters didn’t fly off the handle and do incredibly stupid things to further alienate each other. They talked things out and behaved like mature adults. Ashley was also very cute. With many child characters, the best you can hope for is that they not get on your nerves. Not so here. She seemed authentic and sweet.
Both Kyle and Jamie have difficult pasts, but Jamie’s is especially so. And, unfortunately, her past has got a grip on her and isn’t about to let go. She’s full of self-loathing for the things she’s done, and can’t see that she would ever be any good as a wife. No self-respecting man could love her. How she learns that this is not true, and especially not true with Kyle, is very poignant and touching.
The only problem I have with this book is that in the last fifty pages or so, the book moves from being character-driven to plot-driven, and that felt just a teeny, tiny bit contrived. Jamie has the opportunity to come completely clean with a very understanding Kyle, and she only reveals part of her past. I sort of wanted to shake her at that point. And then towards the very end, she chooses to do something very irrational, though it could be argued that she is not thinking clearly at that point. But I was not really ripped out of the story at either point, and these things did not decrease the impact of what was happening with her or with Kyle.
I’ve had a lot of luck reading series romance lately, and Her Secret, His Child just continues the winning streak. If you haven’t tried Tara Taylor Quinn, I’d urge you to do so. I think she’s moved on up to auto-buy status for me. Quinn writes touching stories about real people that transcend plot type or sub-genre, and I highly recommend this one in particular.