McIver's Mission

Extreme Measures by Brenda Harlen
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1282, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-27352-5
Five years ago, professional hockey player Colin McIver met physiotherapist Nikki Gordon when she was directing the rehabilitation for his career ending knee injury. They soon married and a few months later Colin was offered an opportunity to coach a professional team. He took it and divorced Nikki believing that she didn’t love him enough to follow him cross country, after convincing himself that she deserved better.

Shattered at the unexpected ending to her marriage, Nikki deliberately did not tell Colin she was pregnant. Making a life for herself and her daughter Carly, Nikki is stunned to find that Colin has returned to the small town where she lives.

Actually Colin is following a well-conceived plan to hide while the police in Texas investigate the bombing of his apartment. Suspicion has focused on a player that Colin had benched for drug abuse. Leaving a false trail, later he is surprised find the hotel room he had checked into in another city as a lure had been bombed.

Meanwhile Colin finds Nikki, only to also discover his daughter for the first time. At loose ends, awaiting the criminal investigation process while trying to get to know his daughter and to perhaps reconcile with Nikki, Colin begins in earnest to infuse himself into their lives. Now Nikki is confronted with the fear that Colin will not love her daughter enough to stay in her life.

Extreme Measures chronologically predates its companion novel, McIvers Mission and features essentially the same cast of characters. This is an interesting approach that neither adds nor detracts from the current story.

The “secret baby” theme is one of the most common in romance novels and usually includes the anger, hurt and disappointment from discovering a secret of that proportion. The turmoil that follows a revelation of this kind is always predictable. What saves it for this book is the author’s well-developed characters and crisp dialogue. Brenda Harlen is a gifted writer who creates multi-faceted characters that reveal themselves by action rather than redundant descriptions. The angst that one would expect as a result of abandonment is here, but it is handled with such a light and convincing touch that it does not interrupt the flow of the story.

The pacing of Extreme Measures is excellent with a clever interweaving of sexual tension escalating along with increasing threats to Colin. Everything that occurs is predictable and this story would be a very average read, except for the author’s skill in the handling of it. That alone elevates it to a four-heart rating.

--Thea Davis

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