Her Husband's Partner

 
Then There Were Three
by Jeanie London
(Harl Super #1699, $5.50, PG) ISBN 978-0373-71699-9
***
Nic DiLeo is the local police chief in New Orleans and he has been in the job for a short while. His goal is to clean up the corruption and he is in partnership with the new mayor and several other good guys. His family is large and he grew up being “in charge” of many brothers and one sister after his dad died. His mom let him take charge and yet, she realizes that it is time for Nic to have a life of his own.

Nic did have girlfriends and one in particular touched his heart specifically. But high school was a long time ago and when she just deserted him with no word and her parents told him that she left because he wasn’t good enough for her, he nursed his heart and built some walls and went on with his life.

Now, 15 years later, Nic is confronted by a runaway who may be a major witness in observing a suspected crooked judge take a bribe. It puts the witness in potential danger and more importantly, it puts Nic in potential meltdown. The teenage girl looks just like him and she claims he is her dad.

Megan Bell was a responsible daughter and grew up with two academics as parents. They protected her and wanted to shelter her all the time. However, Megan loved life and she started sneaking around to date the local hot-bodied ladies’ man, Nic Dileo. They had a blast and yet Megan had to be careful and protect her parents from finding out. That backfired when Megan found herself pregnant. Her disapproving parents convinced her to leave town and give up the baby for adoption. They convinced her to keep Nic in the dark – saying it would ruin what little life he had to have to stop his dreams of college in order to marry her.

Megan was scared and cowed easily until it was time to give up her child. She couldn’t do it. She walked away with the little girl, Violet and has never looked back. She worked hard and built a life, traveling all over the world for her job. While she knew she would have to come clean about Nic at some point, she kept putting it off and never told her daughter anything.

Teenagers being what they are, Violet discovered who her father was and headed out from South America to meet him in New Orleans. She stalked Nic a little while and that is when she saw the interaction between the judge and a man with a tattoo passing an envelope. Nic has to assimilate that he has a daughter, that Megan lied to him and that he now has a witness he has to protect. The story follows their reunion, their relationship and their decisions all while figuring out the crime part of the tale.

I enjoyed this story. The DiLeos have been featured in other stories and while I have not read them all, I was familiar with the family. This story will stand alone however. Megan has had to be independent and while she knows she should not have hidden things from Nic and Violet for so long, her reluctance is somewhat understandable. Her relationship with her parents is equally convoluted and at times, the tension seemed unrealistic.

What kept this from a stronger recommendation was Nic and his reaction to the whole issue. He wanted to be angry, fuss and fight. But he never did. He kept telling himself that he had to protect Violet and so he never let go of the expected sense of outrage, hurt and other types of emotions that one would expect. Megan would think she was ready for Nic to confront her, but when he didn’t, she too just swept feelings under the rug. It was hard for me to totally buy their reunion, knowing that there were some pretty hefty unresolved issues.

On the whole, Then There Were Three is a good story with lots of activity to keep the reader engaged. It isn’t one of those that delve into emotions too strongly, but the HEA is ultimately satisfying.

--Shirley Lyons


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