Just Around the Corner

The Secret Son

White Picket Fences

 
Somebody's Baby by Tara Taylor Quinn
(Harl. Super. #1272, $5.50, PG) ISBN 0373-71272-3
*****
Somebody's Baby is an exceptional tale of real life people, who are not perfect, feel heartache, make mistakes and have to find their inner strength along with love in order to survive. Quinn has hit the mark on this one.

Shelter Valley, Arizona, is the setting for this story of Caroline Prater. Caroline is a thirty-five year old widow whose husband died six months earlier on their farm in Kentucky. She has a seventeen-year-old son who is attending Harvard on a scholarship. Caroline's life was not easy. She became pregnant in high school and married the father of her child. They had a strong love, yet Caroline wanted more. She got her GED and learned to use the computer. She loved to learn and this often created conflict in her marriage. Yet she was saddened when her husband died in a tractor accident.

Caroline also discovered she was adopted and had a twin sister, who she looked for and found. Phyllis Sheffield is a professor of psychology at the Montford University in Shelter Valley. Caroline used the Internet to find her and learn all about her sister. Her dream was to leave Kentucky and establish a relationship with her. While she loved her parents who raised her, she wanted more. Caroline traveled to Frankfort to meet a man from Shelter Valley, hoping to vicariously get to know more about Phyllis. That meeting developed into a one-night stand, which left her pregnant. Embarrassed to be pregnant without marriage again, Caroline moves to Shelter Valley.

Her plan is to alert John Strickland of his impending fatherhood, while not demanding anything from him. She also enrolled in the university, determined to get a degree so that when she confronted her sister, she would be educated. John is surprised, embarrassed and totally unprepared for her news. He is still recovering from the loss of his wife in a car accident over six years ago. He has essentially cut off his emotions in order to deal with the loss.

This story is the tale of how John and Caroline cope with the many changes in their lives. It speaks of dealing with loss, handling unexpected complications, figuring out what role love has in one's life and figuring out how one can love and still be true to their self-esteem and values. There are emotions displayed and as a reader, I felt those same emotions. There are questions and choices. I could empathize with every one of those decisions.

The residents of Shelter Valley are introduced (and to fans of the series, re-introduced). These feel like real people. They act like real people. There are some sentimental scenes, but the feel of the story is generally that of life. Not having read this series, I was able to follow most of the storylines without feeling lost. It did whet my appetite to find the previous books and see how their stories really developed.

The secondary characters are generally well developed and are more developed if they are integral to the story. Phyllis and her family have apparently had their story, but Quinn does a good job of helping the reader get to know her without rehashing her whole tale. Caroline's son Jesse is understandably struggling with his mother "getting knocked up:" especially when she informs him she doesn't plan to marry the father.

John and Caroline are two people who have seen the best and the worst of life. John takes a little longer to come around, but I never felt that he was too stubborn or dense in his beliefs. I just empathized with his pain.

Somebody's Baby easily goes on my keeper shelf. I will want to revisit often to relive the sorrows and joys of these two people and the people who learn to love them.

--Shirley Lyons


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