Accidental Father

Just A Whisper Away
by Lauren Nichols
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1421, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-27491-2
Enjoyment of Nichols’ latest hinges on how well the reader can tolerate a thirty-something heroine with Daddy Issues. It also doesn’t help matters that Daddy and the hero cannot seem to get over something that happened fourteen years ago.

Abbie Winslow is a successful Los Angeles lawyer with a psychotic ex-client gunning for her. She believed in Danny Long’s innocence. There was no way this nice, polite, soft-spoken young man raped and bludgeoned his girlfriend to death. Except of course he did, and when she finds that out, she breaks her code of ethics hoping he’ll be found guilty. Unfortunately for Abbie, she’s a very good lawyer, and Danny walks. Naturally he’s a little unhappy with her and has vowed vengeance.

At the insistence of a coworker, Abbie takes an earlier flight home to Pennsylvania for her father’s wedding. She immediately runs into Jace Rogan, the boy who divested Abbie of her virginity in the gazebo behind her father’s house. Daddy caught them after the fact, and was not happy – but Abbie was determined to gain her independence from her domineering father. Until he threatened to take away all of her college money. Jace and Abbie never saw each other again.

Jace is now a successful businessman who owns his own lumberyard. He feels betrayed by Abbie – believing she used his body in order to send a message to Daddy. Also, Daddy, a banker by trade, turned down Jace for a business loan and made sure no other bank in town would help him out. So he’s a mite bitter.

However there is now a psycho killer after Abbie and Daddy is out of town on his honeymoon. Abbie didn’t want to worry him about the crazed rapist stalking her – so she didn’t tell him. Well Jace knows now and he insists Abbie move in with him until Daddy comes home.

One suspects that this plot was supposed to be reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, but all of the characters merely come off as petty. Abbie lost her virginity to Jace at 19. 19! She was in college! Sure it had to be a shock to the old guy to find his daughter doing the nasty in the back yard – but she was 19! Daddy’s big issue with Jace is that his mother was the town whore. But Jace has made something of his life. He’s a respectable businessman, well liked, with loving foster parents and a younger brother. But because he deflowered his Ultimately Pure Daughter he’s apparently no better than a crack-head.

In turn, Abbie likes to humor her father. Frankly why she doesn’t tell the old man to get a grip is the real mystery in this story. She’s in her thirties now. She has been married and divorced. She is supposedly an adult woman. The minute Daddy started blustering she should have told the old man to shut up or she’d put him in a home.

Seriously, this conflict made my head hurt.

The psychotic ex-client hunting for Abbie is actually not too bad. Unfortunately it gets lost in all the Daddy-Good-Girl-Bad-Boy conflict. If you have a real soft spot for heroes born on the wrong side of the tracks, this might be up your alley. Frankly, this reviewer couldn’t help thinking that they all should have gotten over themselves a very long time ago.

--Wendy Crutcher

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