Accidental Heiress

Accidental Hero

Accidental Father by Lauren Nichols
(Silh. Int. Mom. #994, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373007994-X
Yet another “secret baby” book. And yet another tale of a woman who won’t marry the child’s father -- a sexy, honorable, caring, handsome fellow -- until he can say “I love you” and mean it. And yet another hero who, having been betrayed by a woman, doesn’t believe in love. I know, I know. These books must sell like hotcakes because there are so very, very many of them. Am I the only reader out here who is really getting tired of the same old, same old? Or do I just read too many books?

Were it not for the fact that Lauren Nichols writes well and has provided a nice little mystery to go along with this all too familiar plot, I doubt I would have rated Accidental Father as acceptable. My tolerance for these all too common plot devices is growing less and less.

Sarah Harper is stunned when Jake Russell, the new sheriff of Comfort, Montana, appears at the door of her bed and breakfast. Three years ago, she had met Jake at a very low time in her life. He was also suffering from his fiancée’s betrayal. Mutual comfort had led to something more and nine months later, that more had led to the birth of Kylie Harper. Sarah had never expected to see the black-haired, blue-eyed lawman again, even though she saw those eyes and that hair every day in the person of her beloved daughter.

Sarah is immediately fearful that Jake has learned of Kylie’s birth. In fact, it is pure coincidence that has brought Jake to Comfort. He took the job because the father he never knew and the half-brothers he’s never met live nearby. When Sarah refuses to rent him a room, he assumes it’s because of that long ago memorable one-night stand.

But Comfort is a small town and Sarah can’t avoid him completely. Sarah delays telling Jake the truth for as long as possible and he is understandably irate that she has kept his daughter’s existence from him. Then fate takes a hand.

Three years earlier, Sarah’s no-good ex-husband had died in a police shoot out after stealing a fortune in diamonds. The jewels were never found. Since Vince visited Sarah right before his death, the police thought he might have left the gems in her house. But they had never been found. When Sarah’s home is ransacked, it becomes clear that someone is looking for the diamonds. Jake decides to move in to protect his daughter and her mother.

I think my introduction pretty much describes the nature of Sarah’s and Jake’s relationship. The conflict that postpones the happy ending is an all too common one, although Nichols does a good job in explaining the reasons why Sarah and Jake act as they do. Likewise, her description of Jake’s getting acquainted with his daughter is nicely done. And she effectively allows the reader to revisit the characters from the first two books in the series.

What Nichols does best is sustaining the mystery of who is searching for the diamonds. I must admit that I found the unraveling of the mystery and the exciting ending the most effective part of the book.

Lauren Nichols understands her audience and clearly provides the kind of story in Accidental Father that many readers want. Unfortunately, this reader has read this story once too often.

--Jean Mason

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