The Daughter Merger

His Partnerís Wife
Jack Murray, Sheriff

A Motherís Secret
by Janice Kay Johnson
(Harl Super #1602, $5.50, PG) ISBN 978-0373-71602-9
A Motherís Secret is based on the familiar storyline: an affair results in a pregnancy that the mother decides not to share with the father and when the father discovers that he has a son, everything breaks loose.†In this case, Daniel Kane and Rebecca Ballard had actually dated for over a year.†Daniel started getting scared of his feelings and began pushing Rebecca away just as she started to suspect that she was carrying a child.†Rather than force Daniel into a marriage he obviously didnít want, she hit the road and has raised four-year-old Malcolm on her own.†An accidental meeting at a restaurant leads to Danielís discovery. He confronts Rebecca and demands that he be allowed to get to know his son.†

Both of these people have major issues.†Rebecca was raised in a family where a divorce tore them apart.†The parents played tug of war and often put the children in the middle of their arguing and custody battles.†Rebecca swore she would never do that to a child.†When she rationalized that Daniel would not want to marry, her decision to walk away have as much to do with her fear of not being able to have a stable marriage as her fear that he really didnít want to be a father.

Daniel, on the other hand, has even more complications in his life.†In this series, The Diamond Legacy, Robert Carson married Sarah but had an affair with Josephine Fraser.†Robert and Jo had a child Adam (who Jo raised as the son of her first husband and dead war hero) and a daughter Jenny (who Robert and Sarah raised when Jo gave her up for adoption).† Jo went on to marry Vernon Kane, and they had Daniel.†Most of these secrets came out when Sarah passed away, as she told the tale before she died, surprising everyone.†Daniel is now left to wonder if Robert could be his father and if that is why Vernon never really treated him like a beloved son.†Jo was depressed most of her life and barely treated Daniel with any real affection. With neither parent showing him love, Daniel reserved most of his feelings for his ďcousinĒ Adam and Adamís son Joe.†

When Daniel discovers he has a son, he is angry, hurt and totally confused.†He demands to get to know his son and is determined not to make mistakes.†He wants his son to know he is loved, even if he didnít know about him for four years.†But Daniel also realizes that he has never forgotten Rebecca. They had almost lived together in his house, and there were items there he had left just to help remember her.†So five years ago, he pushed her away. Now he still finds her attractive and resents that he feels things for her as if they had never been apart.

Malcolm is a precocious four-year-old who is thrilled that he now has a dad.†He loves his mom and he wants them all to be together, forcing them to spend the day together and act as if they are a family.†This close bond requires Daniel and Rebecca to evaluate their feelings and their strong attraction to each other. What I struggled with was how long this took and the copious amounts of soul-searching this required. It is one thing to watch a couple work out their issues, but the internal struggles went on and on. It dragged at times.†The complications from Danielís familyís continued discovery of who fathered who and how could they do this, got old very quickly. Readers who have read the other stories may be more connected to this and actually care.

While A Motherís Secret is part of a series, it does stand alone as a story of great angst and troubled childhoods. But the large backstory is very convoluted.†While I liked parts of the story, the angst experienced by both of the major characters required too much internal introspection that just never drew me into the story.

A Motherís Secret held too little to be engaging and the familiar themes were written with a little too much formula, too much thinking and just too much angst.†

--Shirley Lyons

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