Her Little Secret

The Secret Father

Unexpected Marriage

Another Woman's Son
by Anna Adams
(Harl. Super. #1294, $5.50, PG-13)
After Will Barker's death, the question on everyone's mind wasn't why did he die, but why was his sister-in-law with him in the middle of the night? Only one person knows the answer to this, his estranged wife Isabel; now Isabel is left facing her sister's husband and the son that isn't his.

Ben Jordan never once thought that tiny Tony wasn't his son. After all, he and Faith had been married for years, who would question it? So he's shocked when just days after his wife's tragic death, he finds a letter saying Faith was leaving to be with Will, her true love and Tony's father. He's even more dismayed when he realizes his best friend Isabel has known for months. Now Ben's alone, angry and frightened, determined to hold on to his child. His only recourse is to convince Isabel that the honesty isn't always the best policy.

Isabel is torn between keeping Ben's secret and telling her parents. For some reason, she feels that Faith's mother and father (also her own) might have a right to raise Tony, since he isn't technically Ben's.

This custody issue is a bit disconcerting since the precocious eighteen-month old knows Ben as "Dad" and relies on him. Add on the fact that he just lost his "uncle" whom he saw almost daily and his mother, one is baffled as to why Faith's parents would want to compound that loss.

Nonetheless, Adams's characters seem to find this a point of contention and the moral question at the heart of the book.

While the premise behind Another Woman's Son is intriguing, as is the idea of what happens when two sister's each marry the man meant for the other, the book itself falls far short. My problem is with the writing, and by that I don't just mean the copy-editing, though I do have to mention it. I rarely ever rate books down because of copy-editing, but when the writer and the editor both cannot keep character's names straight, it's a problem. At least twice, "Will" is referred to as "Ben" and once by Ben himself. It's confusing and takes the reader right out of the story.

The other problem with the writing is that the author does not give her characters a strong voice or presence. They often act out of character. For example, Isabel continually asserts that she is going to be more independent, yet continually concedes to every other character in the story. When Ben wants her to stay with him, she acquiesces. When her former mother-in-law bullies her, she caves. Despite her assertions to herself, she rarely stands up for herself. And when she does, it's unnecessary.

In fact, most of the conflict in this story happens to be unnecessary. If the people involved would simply sit down and talk to each other like adults, the novel would've been resolved much more quickly. The characters never seem to talk to each other; they talk at each other. Ben and Isabel rehash the same argument ad nauseam, until the reader wants to scream in frustration.

While I'm certain this book probably has an audience somewhere, it isn't with this reviewer. The haste at which Ben and Isabel rush into a romantic relationship ruins any chance they may have as a believable couple. The bodies are barely in the ground before longing looks are being exchanged. I found it to be in extremely poor taste and kept waiting for one of them to seriously contemplate the idea of "rebound romance" and not just keep making jokes about it.

It's sad when the best thing you can say about a book is that you like the cover. And it is such a nice cover, all yellow, cheery and soothing. This story really proves the adage about a book and its cover.

--Amanda Waters

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