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Her First Mother

Secondhand Dad

The Daddy Trap by Kayla Daniels
(Silh. Int. Mom. 922, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07922-2
The Daddy Trap is high on my list as one of the ten most improbable novels I have ever read. Having reviewed and enjoyed Secondhand Dad, Kayla Daniel's prior novel, it saddens me that this one is so disappointing. The plot has holes an aircraft carrier could cruise through, while the romance is filled with angst and such a lack of feeling that it is almost inconsequential to the story.

Sheri and Kristen Monroe are the daughters of a single mother who works very hard housecleaning to put food on the table. Sheri and Luke Hollister become engaged, but while Luke is out of town, Sheri is also seeing rich Derek Vincent, captain of the town's industry. Kristen covers for her sister when Luke calls, and is the one who has to tell Luke that Sheri has run off with Derek. Luke hates both of them and years pass.

Late one night, Kristen knocks on Luke's door. In her arms is Sheri's young son, Cody. Sheri has been dead for a year and Kristen has kidnapped Cody from the local hospital. He was there because he allegedly fell out of a tree. She appeals to Luke for help, claiming he is Cody's father.

Kristen is certain that Derek physically abused and then killed Sheri and is now abusing Cody. She wants Luke to prove Derek's guilt and to accept Cody as his child.

Kristen's cry of 'Derek the Murderer' is old news to the police since she claimed this when Sheri died in a single car accident. On the day of Sheri's death, Kristen had finally persuaded her to let Kristen take Sheri and Cody to a shelter for battered spouses in another town.

Kristen now has a monumental case of the guilts because she thinks, that if not for her, her sister would be alive, since obviously Derek caught Sheri and killed her before she could flee. Kristen now believes that she doesn't deserve to be happy, because her sister wasn't happy and is now dead because she was trying to follow Kristen's advice. If you don't see a legitimate basis for guilt, you're not the only one.

While I might believe that one may not have to serve hard time for felony kidnapping because of extenuating circumstances, I am not prepared to believe that the manner in which this novel is resolved is the least bit credible. Not to mention how improbable it is for someone, while running a construction company, to solve a year old crime with less than a week of investigation when the police have already closed the death as a car accident.

Kristen although excruciatingly well meaning, agonizes endlessly over her part in Sheri's death. Cody does not consistently exhibit the characteristics of an abused child, and Luke's epiphanies are not persuasive. This book could have benefited from less angst, more emotion in the love story, less repetitive dialogue, and a more plausible plot. I suggest that you hunt down a copy of Secondhand Dad for a better example of Kayla Daniels' work.

--Thea Davis

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