The Accidental
Mrs. MacKenzie

The Hijacked Wife
by Bonnie K. Winn
(Silh. Int. Mom. #954, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07954-0
Architect Jack Delancey is supervising the construction of one of his buildings when he discovers criminal wrongdoing. Working with the authorities, he testifies against highly placed syndicate criminals. They go to prison, but not before they manage to have his wife killed. Miraculously, his unborn son survives the hit. Jack and his infant son then disappear into the Witness Protection Program.

The Hijacked Wife begins several years later as the engine is dying on Jackís small boat off the South Carolina Coast. Summer Harding is cruising by and offers to tow him to the island shore where she lives. Reluctantly, Jack accepts her help and finds himself towed to her mother's boat repair shop. Despite his suspicion that Summer was trolling for business, he finds that they can repair the engine before anyone else can. This is because Summer dislikes him enough to pitch in and do the mechanical work to get him on his way.

Summerís mother offers Jack and his son the hospitality of her home, making obvious hints that she is missing grandchildren. Summer, however, is still in anguish over a failed engagement. And Jack, who is now Jack Anderson, is frozen in time and consumed with guilt over his wifeís death.

It soon becomes apparent to Jack that the integrity of the Witness Protection Program has been breached. Always fearing this would happen, Jack has prepared an escape plan that involves his small boat. He is running for his life and the life of his son, Danny.

The boat is repaired, and Summer goes out for a "test drive" with Jack, when men, armed with rifles give chase. Jack decides he has no time to return Summer to her home, so he makes a run for a coastal town. He asks her to stay with him a day or two since he believes they won't be looking for a "family." Summer agrees, buys pink girl clothes for Danny and they trade the boat for an old used car and head to Washington DC, where Jack hopes to find his liaison with the program.

But roadblocks are out, so Jack and Summer are forced back into hiding.. They drift from town to town, as Jack returns to some of the places he had lived and worked in the previous two years doing minimum wage jobs.

The Hijacked Wife becomes one endless and relentless chase, as Jack and Summer are discovered time after time, and escape time after time. Jackís guilt over his wife's death and Summerís insecurity from her failed relationship have to be overcome to give permanence to their mushrooming romance.

The problem that I had with The Hijacked Wife is that pace never varies. It is break-neck all the way, and the resolution of all the problems is not that persuasive. In addition, Jack although created to evoke empathy, is so single-mindedly obsessed with his angst that it is hard to really like him. Plus, Summer's fears are not well developed enough to balance his.

Still, if an endless chase scene peppered with passion appeals to you, then you may enjoy this book more than I did.

--Thea Davis

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