No one does wounded heroes and heroines better than Rachel Lee. In
Involuntary Daddy she introduces two more lost souls who find
happiness in Conard County, Wyoming. And, as is so often the case in
category romances, she also educates her readers about the perils and
problems of living with a chronic illness, in this case, diabetes.
Rafe Ortiz is our Involuntary Daddy. A DEA undercover agent, he
is shocked when he is called to the hospital to discover that his
onetime lover has just died of a gunshot wound after giving birth to a
child. Raquel Molina has identified Rafe as the father and her last
wish is that he take the boy away from Miami and her family.
Rafe hadn’t seen Raquel in months, not since he arrested her brother
Eduardo for drug trafficking. But DNA tests prove conclusively that
Rafael, Jr. (or Peanut as Rafe calls him) is truly his. How can a DEA
undercover agent care for an infant? Rafe’s only solution is to take
the baby to his half-brother, the sheriff of Conard County. When
Raquel’s brother tracks Rafe down and suggests that the Molino family
wants the baby, Rafe’s incentive to go west grows suddenly greater.
There is only one problem: Nate Tate doesn’t even know he has a
Arriving in Conard County, Rafe is fortunate to run into former DEA
agent Gage Dalton (hero of Lee’s classic Miss Emmaline and the Dark
Angel). Gage invites Rafe to stay with him and Emma. The Daltons
have another house guest, Angela Jaynes, an old college friend of
If Rafe is a wounded loner -- son of an alcoholic mother and an absent
father, raised in foster homes, spending his life among the scum of the
earth -- Angela is equally wounded. Since the age of eight, she has
suffered from diabetes. The disease means she must constantly monitor
her blood sugar, eat at regular times, and give herself insulin four
times a day. It cost her her fiancé, her unborn baby, and any hope of
future marriage or children. She has come to visit Emma and Gage
because both her life and her illness have gotten the better of her.
She needs a place to rest and recuperate.
Lee brings these two lost souls together in a perfectly believable
fashion. There is undoubted attraction, but each carries so much
baggage that opening to the other is extremely difficult. Rafe is
gradually humanized as he learns to be a father and to love his
unexpected son. Angela gradually comes to understand how her illness
has led her to deny her own feelings.
When Manuel Molina follows Rafe to Wyoming, the threat of losing custody
of the son he has come to love forces Rafe to reevaluate his life. He
forces Angela to face her own feelings of inadequacy and her own
Fans of the Conard County series will enjoy meeting old friends in the
pages of Involuntary Daddy. I especially appreciated seeing Gage
and Emma living their particular happily ever after. But I don’t think
one has to have read the other Conard County books to enjoy this one.
Lee paints a gripping picture of the pain of living with diabetes.
Angela is a particularly strong creation as she struggles to maintain
her blood sugar level. Her frustrations are understandable and her
fears are realistic. How can she commit to Rafe and to Peanut when her
future is so uncertain?
I never cease to be amazed at how much feeling and intensity a good
author can inject into a short novel. Lee is recognized as one of the
best category authors and Involuntary Daddy is a good example of
why she is so well respected.