| During their business school years, Samantha Edwards and Jack Hanson
were good friends, study mates and, for one highly memorable night,
lovers. Now, ten years later, Jack's father has just died, and Jack
has agreed to preside over the family business, the Hanson Media
Group, for three months. He is not too happy about giving up his
criminal law practice to sort out things in the ailing firm, but he
has no regrets about one of his first hires: Samantha Edwards.
After an unhappy marriage and a bitter divorce, Samantha is more than delighted to be named the new head of marketing. Not surprisingly, their old friendship and new professional association soon develops into something quite different.
Before Jack and Samantha can plunge wholeheartedly into a permanent
relationship, they have to resolve some personal issues. Samantha is
afraid that all men will turn out to be either like her rich absentee
father, unloving and distant, or her ex-husband, generous and kind
from afar, but controlling, abusive, and downright cruel up close.
This is also the reason why she steered clear from Jack all those
With a mother who passed away when he was a child, a father who
devoted himself to his work, and a fiancée who died a week short of
their marriage, Jack is afraid that everyone he loves will leave him -
including Samantha. Initially, he harbors some insecurities about the
way she refused to pursue their relationship when they were students.
Then, when they can no longer hide their mutual attraction, he has a
hard time understanding why she keeps playing hot-and-cold. Only once
they open up to each other can they begin to work through their past
disappointments and towards new beginnings.
To its credit and unlike many continuity books I have recently read,
Prodigal Son doesn't spend a lot of time setting up the next novel in the series. Members of the Hanson family, who will undoubtedly star in future books, make an appearance here (or, at the very least, are alluded to repeatedly), but the novel is very much focused on what is happening between Samantha and Jack.
Unfortunately, there is not all that much going on between them.
Although their relationship progresses, many scenes are a repeat of
the same. Moreover, Jack is, despite everything, so quick to bond
with Samantha, that I couldn't help feeling that his dead fiancée was
tossed into the mix to give him more conflict and to ensure he has as
many issues as Samantha.
Thrown into this character-focused story are a number of suspicious
events concerning the running of the firm. One of them is resolved
within these pages, but not exactly in a manner that would satisfy
serious mystery readers. The culprit springs from nowhere, and the
resolution reeks too much of authorial intervention. Nothing more
than blind faith justifies the initial triage between the innocent
and the guilty. The other puzzle remains unaddressed and will
undoubtedly form the focus of future installments. Quite honestly,
the suspense is not enough for me to join the countdown to their
publication. If Prodigal Son sets the standard, they are bound to be passable, but not highly memorable reads.