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Lover's Lies

The Mother of His Child
by Laurey Bright
(Silh. Int. Mom. #918, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-07918-4
Revealing too much of the plot of Laurey Bright's newest book would be a disservice to the reader and to the author. Ms. Bright has crafted a tale that's not what it seems until the one basic truth is revealed, too late into the book for me to be comfortable sharing. Just be prepared for some quirky twists and turns.

Set in New Zealand and Australia, with some of their spellings and terms thrown in, Charisse Lane meets a man who claims to have known her five years before. She has no idea who the man is, until something about him sparks a glimmer of recognition. He's so insistent, giving her his business card, that she relents and seeks him out at work. Still, she's extremely reluctant to share details of her life. Once he discovers the whole truth, Charisse's world will change.

Daniel Richmond knew Charisse five years earlier in Australia and is puzzled at her reaction. Why is she claiming that she doesn't know him? His question is answered when he meets four-year-old Kristy, his daughter, whose existence has been a secret to him. Immediately Daniel proposes a marriage of convenience. He wants to be Kristy's father in the fullest sense of the word. But what does he want from Charisse?

If what I've described sounds interesting, it sorta-kinda-maybe is. But there's a but. At the end of the story, Daniel thanks Charisse for her strength, her gentleness and her humor. It's this last commodity that I found in extremely short supply. Charisse is not a happy person. She's been a single mom and on a tight budget, yes, but she seems to find fault with everything. And after a while, everything takes on a morose tone.

We're treated to her looks of "angry scorn, indignation, antagonism, defensiveness," etc. What's so annoying is that she's fine until she's around Daniel. Then she becomes Ms. Hyde and is thoroughly unlikable. Even when Daniel finally knows and accepts the truth, she keeps referring to a shadow over her happiness. She's so suspicious, so cautious about accepting anything from Daniel that her gloomy, almost petulant moods made reading this book a challenge.

The book did catch more of my interest during the second half, but Charisse's dour attitude still prevails. Daniel responds according to her moods. If she's snippy, he responds in kind. When she wants to postpone intimacy, he gruffly agrees. I felt sorry for him a few times, and that's not how I want to feel about the hero, who in this case is a pretty nice guy.

Charisse drove me nuts!

The Mother of His Child has a secret baby and a marriage of convenience, items all too plentiful these days. My few sparks of interest were doused by Charisse's chilly personality and the convolutions which may have you rereading to see what slipped by you the first time.

--Linda Mowery

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