Kayla’s Daddy
by Laura Bradford
(Harl. American #1289, $4.99, G) ISBN 978-0373-75293-5
This is a nice little romance about falling in love, dealing with the past and realizing that the key is to live in the present. There are some anger issues that I didn’t like in the hero, keeping Kayla’s Daddy in the three-heart range.

Phoebe Jennings has an eleven-month-old child from an affair she thought was filled with love.  Unfortunately, her lover couldn’t see things her way. He was looking for a fling, while she thought he loved her. While her upbringing by a loving grandmother in a lower income family seemed ideal to her, to Doug, she was not made of the right stuff or the right lineage. Her heart broken and her grandmother deceased, Phoebe moved to a small town in Ohio, to a house that felt like it was full of love, in a middle class neighborhood with senior citizens who had raised their families and reminded her of her grandmother. 

Phoebe is an artist – with a specialty in painting portraits that captures the emotion of the person she paints. She is just finishing up a major commission for one of the West Enders, that side of town that can afford to have their portraits painted, when a letter is delivered to her house. The postmark is over 40 years old. The previous owners were Mary and Bart Williams and the letter is postmarked to their son Tate, or so Phoebe thinks.

When she goes to deliver the letter, she discovers Tate is a man her age. He is gorgeous and was charming, until she mentions that the letter is so old.  His demeanor changes when Phoebe realizes that Bart’s first name is Tate and the letter is for him. Tate and his dad are estranged and the last thing Tate wants to do is help her deliver this letter. But Tate is attracted to Phoebe too, and after she leaves, regrets that she had seen him in such poor circumstances. Phoebe can’t get Tate out of her mind, despite her work and all the time she has to put into caring for her daughter. 

The letter is finally delivered to Bart, who realizes the letter had been written during World War II when he was overseas and had proposed to a lady by mail. He had never heard from her, assumed she didn’t care and he went on to marry another woman – a woman he had a son with.  But Bart had been so hurt, he never fully gave his heart openly, even though his wife was caring and giving and wonderful. He did love her, but couldn’t show his emotion for fear of being hurt again. Tate grew up hating his father for the distance he kept with his mother and with him. He never felt his father cared and when his mother died, he distanced himself from his father despite living in the same town. 

This tale obviously tries to reunite Tate and Bart while giving Phoebe and Tate the romance of their lives. Can they learn from Bart’s mistake? Can they love despite the unreasonable anger Tate feels whenever he thinks of his father? Happily-ever-after comes slowly to these two but ultimately the story delivers.

The one disturbing piece about Tate that bothered me more than a little was his habit of exploding with anger, yelling and then storming off in a tantrum. He even admitted that is what he had. He was always apologetic and Phoebe always forgave him, saying that his other good qualities always won out. But I struggled with this part of him, making it hard for me to really want their romance to win out. I also struggled a little with Bart. For a man who spent his life basically ignoring his wife and son, he now has a host of regrets and wants to make things right.  The story never really divulged what made him change his mind and his heart. He is meant to get the sympathy vote, yet part of me truly understood Tate’s anger at his dad.   Overall however, Kayla’s Daddy is a feel good story with a happy ending for all. 

--Shirley Lyons

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