Daddy by Default

Father Fever

First Born Son

Gift-Wrapped Dad

The Hunk & the Virgin

 
Father Found by Muriel Jensen
(Harl. American #866, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-16866-7
****
Third time's a charm is an apt cliché for Father Found. It's the third and final book in the ‘Who's the Daddy?' series and wraps up the story of the third triplet, Augusta. Each book features one of the Ames triplets and three handsome bachelors, all who meet at a masked dress ball. The main connection throughout the books is that seven months later, one of the sisters is pregnant, thus the "Who's the Daddy?" thread.

By process of elimination we know that Bram Bishop is the father of Augusta Ames' baby. Gusty is the pregnant triplet who, when pulled out of the river, has developed amnesia and hasn't been seen since she disappeared from the hospital with a mysterious stranger.

The story opens with Bram and Gusty at a remote cabin, awaiting the birth of their baby. Gusty still remembers nothing about her past, and Bram is walking on eggshells, trying to keep to the truth as much as possible when she asks questions, particularly about their relationship. The biggest whopper that Bram has told, claiming that he and Gusty are married, is one he easily justifies. At one point in their relationship they were planning marriage, but this was before Gusty found out that she was pregnant.

Bram knows that Gusty didn't accidentally drive in the river, but was pushed into it by the brother of one of the drug traffickers in prison because of Bram's testimony. When news of Gusty's rescue made the TV news, Bram knew he had to smuggle Gusty out of town before the bad guys found her. Her amnesia is common knowledge, so he appeared in her hospital room at dawn and slipped a wedding band on her finger, the mate to his. Waking her up and showing her the rings was all the assurance it took for her to go with him, this stranger who claimed to be her husband.

So now they are hiding out, trying to keep a low profile so that the bad guys won't find them and finish the job. Bram is adept at deflecting Gusty's curiosity, but he's always worried that, as snippets of her memory return, she'll remember the truth and leave him, knowing that he's been lying about their relationship all along.

What makes Father Found different is that the story begins with these two firmly entrenched in a relationship. Yes, for the whole story we're waiting with Bram for Gusty's memory to return and for the obligatory hell to break loose, but his strength lessens that anxiety. He's an Alpha type who takes charge but doesn't seem to beat his chest Tarzan-style.

He's also a wonderfully tender and caring hero. He's a bit out of his element as Gusty's mood swings increase as the birth of their baby nears, but his common sense and intelligence save the day. He knows instinctively what to say and how to ease her worries.

The fact that their relationship grows and develops from page one makes for a story that really concentrates on the relationship. That is such a pleasant change from stories whose characters don't really mesh until near the end.

Muriel Jensen hasn't concentrated on the villains, and that's a good thing. This plot thread is wrapped up so quickly that there's almost no time to worry. And with Bram taking care of things, why should I?

The book isn't complete with appearances of the couples from the two previous books. After seeing them again, I know why Father Found is my favorite of the three books. The first two relationships did take the whole story to develop. It's a rare book that focuses so completely on two characters who want the same thing from page one.

While Father Found is strong enough to stand on its own, it, like any spin-off books, is enhanced by knowing the history, by having the foundation to build on. I'm glad I read the first two books because that insured that I'd read book three.

Yep, the third time's a charm . . . a highly recommended charm.

--Linda Mowery


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