Found: His Family by Nicola Marsh
(Silh. Romance #1836, $4.25, G) ISBN 0373-19836-1
***
Nicola Marsh is a fairly new author from Australia. The setting of Found: His Family is in Melbourne and there are bits of slang that are much more Australian than American. Otherwise, the story is fairly standard while the romance is entertaining.

Aimee Payet has a secret that is about to come out for the most horrific of reasons. She had been involved in a love affair that resulted in a child. That child, five year old Toby, has been diagnosed with leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. Aimee is not a match and her parents, who were her only family, are dead. Despite an unhappy ending to their affair, Aimee finds herself inviting Jed Sanderson, a renowned chef, to ask him to undergo tests to see if he is a match, thus letting him know about the son he didn’t know existed.

Jed had secrets of his own when he broke off their affair, despite loving Aimee desperately. His father, Larry, and brother, Bud, both ended up in prison. Larry had not been a good father, and left Jed to basically raise Bud after their mother died and Larry went to jail. Jed felt he had failed Bud because he too ended up doing petty crimes and ultimately ended up in prison for vehicular homicide. Jed carried a lot of guilt around and when it looked like his father would have to go through a very public trial for his latest armed robbery, Jed pushed Aimee away, breaking both of their hearts. In his mind, he was protecting Aimee and her family from the taint of his background. Aimee was so devastated that when she found out she was pregnant, she ran home to her parents and decided not to tell Jed, a man she felt had shunned her for no real reason.

Now they are in a messy situation. Jed goes through all the emotions from anger at Aimee for keeping this from him to excitement that he has a son to despair that his son may die. He readily agrees to the procedure and is a match. Now the question is – how will he and Aimee raise this son, now that Jed knows? Other issues also remain to be settled – how will Toby react to having a father and what will their relationship be like? Can Aimee trust Jed not to destroy her son like he emotionally destroyed her? Can Jed share his past, now that he realizes how much he still loves Aimee? And can Aimee resist Jed when she realizes how much she still loves him?

There is nothing new here, and there are many clichés. The dying child bringing two people back together; secrets that are not as horrible as the person once thought; the opportunity for a second chance at love, etc… The characters are rather predictable. Toby is intelligent and brave; his illness and what he goes through makes him likable despite being a bit precocious.

Aimee has made a life by raising her son and running her family’s pastry shop. She is strong and independent, yet has been devastated by this news of her son’s illness. Because of that vulnerability, she is less than strong with Jed, making her seem rather wishy-washy. At one time she is determined to gain his help and get him to move on while the next she is pining for his love and the future they could have had. This is slightly annoying. Jed is also a self-made man. He recognized that he made a choice five years ago and is determined to live with it. When he gets the call from Aimee, he has hopes of reconciliation. But his issues haven’t changed – his father is in jail and is due to get out. He loves his father and has stood by him despite what he has done. He struggles with a new son and the reality of the illness. The only thing a tad unbelievable was that Jed just leaves his restaurant and comes to Melbourne to spend the time with Toby and Aimee. There seem to be no repercussions from this.

While this is basically standard fare, Found: His Family is an entertaining little love story.

--Shirley Lyons


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