The Seven-Year Secret
by Roz Denny Fox
(Harl. Super. #1069, $5.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-71069-0
***
The Seven-Year Secret is one of those stories that would make a great Movie of the Week. It is a little sappy, a little bit of a tearjerker and very predictable. But I enjoyed it.

Seven-year-old Lydia Beatrice Forrest needs a kidney transplant. Her mother, Mallory Forrest, donated one of her kidneys, but Lydia’s body rejected it. Neither Mallory’s father or brother are a match. Lydia’s only other living relative is her father…and he doesn’t know she exists.

Mallory Forrest had a long-term relationship with Connor O’Rourke in Tallahassee. Mallory is the daughter of powerful State Senator Brad Forrest. Connor is the son of a mother who worked as a maid, and an unknown father. When his mother died in a hurricane, Mallory befriended him and they enjoyed an 8-year relationship that went from friendship to love. They even lived together for several years.

Mallory became pregnant. However, at the same time, Connor received a grant for his work on developing early hurricane warning systems and went to the South Pacific. It was his dream to save lives through this system. He and Mallory fought and Mallory never told him of the child. Now Mallory must let Connor know and determine if he can be a match for his child’s kidney.

In the intervening years, Connor has convinced himself he is over Mallory and made a life for himself. He is now in Miami testing out his new system. Mallory pops up during his bachelor party to give him the news. Needless to say, chaos reigns.

Connor is ecstatic that he has a child, and angry, confused and shocked over the circumstances. His fiancée is less than excited. She is actually a bit of a witch, caring only about herself. One wonders how anyone could like her, let alone convince himself to marry her. Connor heads to Tallahassee to meet his daughter and falls in love with her. He feels a mixture of emotions about her mother.

The rest of the plot is predictable. Connor and Mallory discover that they both tried to get in touch years ago, but those communications were interrupted by Mallory’s mother, who never felt Connor was good enough. There is plenty of jealousy over their current relationships, anger over the past, and uncertainty about the future.

When circumstances change thanks to Senator Forrest’s efforts, Connor moves to Tallahassee with his project. Mallory and Connor rekindle their relationship and the kidney transplant provides the roller coaster of emotions that make both acknowledge their feelings.

Mallory is a paradox. She obviously has been a loving mother and gotten through some difficult times on her own. But she acts like she is very fragile and wears her emotions on her sleeve. She presents herself as a pretty needy heroine.

Connor is the strong silent type, pretty oblivious to his own emotions. He is caring, loving and sensitive to both his daughter and to Mallory although he does display an explosive temper at times. He is obviously a competent scientist. However, it is difficult to reconcile this man with the man who was just waltzing through life with so little awareness that he saddled himself with such an unattractive person as his fiancée.

The story seems well researched in both areas of the weather forecasting and the kidney transplant itself. The author’s forward indicates she hopes to shed light on the need for donors and her story does do that well.

Overall, The Seven-Year Secret is a tried-and-true story that you’ve likely read before. But when in the mood for a nice tearjerker, give this one a read.

--Shirley Lyons


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