A Father's Promise
by Marcia Evanick
(Silh. Int. Mom. #874, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN: 0-373-07874-9
****
Heart-wrenching. That's the word that immediately comes to mind when I think of Marcia Evanick's latest SIM. And heart-warming, too. And just a little bit different in its plot.

When Sydney St. Claire opens her door to a handsome, well dressed and obviously wealthy man, the last thing she needs is more complications in her life. Her adopted mother was killed six months earlier in an accident that left her father blind. The once outgoing police chief has withdrawn from all human contact. And Sydney finds herself in charge of the nursery she ran with her mother. So when Ellis Carlisle informs Sydney that he wants to see Thomas St. Claire because said Thomas is his biological father, Sydney shuts the door in his face.

But Ellis will not go away. His quest for his father has little to do with any psychological need and everything to do with the fact that his beloved five year old son Trevor needs a bone marrow transplant to cure the leukemia that threatens his life. Thus far, there is no match. So Ellis insists on meeting the man whose name is on his birth certificate.

Thomas remembers Cathy Carlisle; she was his next door neighbor and friend. But he insists that he did not father her child. He is, however, willing to take the test. Moreover, Ellis' appearance has forced Thomas out of his depression. When the tests prove that Thomas is not Ellis' father, the two embark on a detective project to discover who, in fact, is the responsible party.

Complicating the situation is the attraction that develops between Sydney and Ellis. Each has his own ghosts and demons. Sydney was abandoned by her parents when she was four and bounced around in the foster care system until adopted by the St. Claires. She has all sorts of insecurities about her ability to sustain a relationship. Ellis has succeeded financially, but his first marriage was a disaster. He wonders if he can ask any woman to share the uncertainties that surround his son's health.

There is actually relatively little angst surrounding the relationship between Sydney and Ellis. What drives much of the story is the quest for Ellis' biological father. What Thomas and Ellis and Sydney are trying to do is to solve a thirty-three year old mystery. But with painstaking care they recreate the life of Cathy Carlisle, the daughter of stern and repressive parents, a preacher's kid who was expected to be perfect but who obviously rebelled.

I enjoyed A Father's Promise. I liked the characters (even precious Trevor) and the story. And I especially liked the fact that I could count on the all important HEA. It is a tribute to Evanick's skill that, despite my conviction that all would be well, I was somewhat on the edge of my seat as the quest for a donor moved inexorably forward.

I can comfortably recommend A Father's Promise to those readers who like their contemporary romances to warm the cockles of their hearts.

--Jean Mason


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