Saving His Son
Though competently written, this story has several plotting flaws that kept me from liking it a whole big bunch. Yes, this is a dreaded secret baby story, but it had the potential to be a cut above the rest. As it turned out, it was only a little better than most, and I know that in a week’s time, I’ll forget I ever read it.
Lindsey Payne is divorced and alone. She gave birth six weeks earlier to a baby boy, whom she named Cory. The same night Cory was born, he died of congenital heart failure. Or so says the hospital staff. Lindsey doesn’t believe it for a second. Her ex-husband, Jim Faulkner, is in a Raleigh, North Carolina prison, but to complicate things, Lindsey’s ex is not Cory’s father. Faulkner had assaulted and tried to kill Lindsey when she vowed to testify against him and his criminal activities, so a detective, Gavin McCord, was assigned to protect Lindsey. Lindsey and Gavin ended up in each other’s arms one night and nine months later …
So why wasn’t Gavin at Lindsey’s side when his son was born? Gavin’s one of those cops (yet again) who feels he cannot/should not marry, so, when Lindsey approaches him, he pushes her away. He does a good job of this. Lindsey decides Gavin never really loved her and will truly never want a wife, so she leaves Raleigh and moves to the small, country community of Maple Hollow. The local lawman doesn’t believe her kidnapped baby story, so, desperate to find her stolen son, Lindsey contacts Gavin and informs him he is a father, and that the child has disappeared.
To the author’s credit, she doesn’t have Gavin rant and rave with the usual, Why didn’t you tell me? baloney. Gavin is well aware it’s his fault Lindsey never told him their one night of lovemaking resulted in a pregnancy. Gavin and Lindsey are deeply in love, but they are kept apart by The Big Misunderstanding (aka, If They Only Talked It Over …), which loses points with me every time.
The mystery surrounding Cory’s disappearance is complex and there are many characters from which to choose as possible villains. The focus of the story is almost entirely on finding the baby, and with the fact someone’s trying to kill Lindsey, with the romance taking a back seat – unless you call constant, unrelenting angst romantic, which I don’t. There is no humor in this book. No smiles, no happiness. Only guilt, remorse, and stress. Of course, the subject matter is sobering, but the somber ambiance becomes overbearing after a while, taking away from the story rather than adding to it.
The plot goes along with some twists and turns and the mystery is not easily solved, again, to the author’s credit. However, Ms. Herron doesn’t quite play fair with the readers in this regard and I can’t say a whole lot about that without spoilers. Suffice to say, a mystery must sprinkle clues throughout the book to give the reader a chance to solve the riddle. That doesn’t happen here, so the resolution is indeed quite a surprise (more like a “Huh? Who?”).
Other problems I have are that the reader has absolutely no idea how old Lindsey and Gavin are. I figured early thirties, but there’s no clue. Absent also is any Southern flavor of any kind. The story takes place in North Carolina, an area rich in physical and cultural beauty, yet the setting and everyone in it could have come from anyplace. And there are inconsistencies. One character especially is bothersome. During his first appearance, he comes across as stuffy, arrogant, and somewhat British-snooty, but later, he suddenly begins speaking like a backwoods illiterate. Again, this was unfair to the reader, considering his role in the plot.
Gavin is a very nice hero. He’s a thoughtful, caring, loving man and a woman would be lucky to find such a guy in real life. Not the world’s best detective, he doesn’t solve the crime as much as get lured into a trap where the truth is revealed (in an overpopulated, almost circus-like situation). Lindsey is a nice woman and we feel her sorrow and pain at having lost her baby. There is a touching moment at the end, which only serves to emphasize how good this book might have been. But as it turns out, Saving His Son just can’t be saved.