Reclaiming His Pregnant Widow
by Tessa Radley
(Harl. Desire #2122, $4.99. PG) ISBN 978-0373-73135-0
Author Tessa Radley tells us in her intro that this is a story she has envisioned for a long time and was excited she finally got it on paper. For this reader, the story was one that had a lot of holes. Reclaiming His Pregnant Widow has a story that is aptly described in the title. Brand Noble comes back from the dead, figuratively, and finds his wife pregnant after a four year separation. Despite that, because it was his thoughts and feelings about Cleapatra that kept him going during his ordeal, he is determined that she will rediscover her feelings of love and be with him.

His ordeal is a little convoluted and not fully revealed until the ending. The ending also reveals the villain and giving this away might just ruin the story for others. So, in a nutshell and with few details – Brand left on a business trip to Greece, when he ended up in first Turkey and then Iraq. He is an antiquities expert and often went on searches. Brand had a gift for quickly determining the authenticity and worth of an artifact. His integrity had never been called into question.

Clea is also into antiquities and her expertise has been to display the artifacts in museums. Her father is on the board of one of the lesser known museums in New York and he helped her get her job. She was young and still learning when she met Brand. He steered her away from a fake and it was true love after that. They had a whirlwind courtship and married in Vegas. Brand and her father never got along. In fact, her father had hoped Clea would marry their long-time friend, Harry Hall-Lewis.

Four years ago, when Brand left, they had been at opposition over his trip. She wanted to go with him and he left her behind. When he ended up “dead” in Iraq, supposedly killed in an accident with another woman, Clea clung to her belief that A) he was alive because there was no proof that the burned body was his and B) that he had not betrayed their vows. She clung to those beliefs until nine months ago when Brand’s wedding ring was found and linked to the scene. She was just now finally admitting he was dead. She had just recently had him declared dead and his assets frozen so his will could be processed. She had also just been impregnated with his sperm that he had stored just before he left for his first tour of duty in the Special Forces when he was only eighteen.

There are a lot of barriers in the way of a happy reunion. Brand doesn’t remember anything about his sperm and when he sees that Clea is pregnant, he assumes the worst. Clea has a lot of doubts about his trip and where he has been for four years without a word. When finally Brand reveals the nightmare of his capture and how the killers changed their mind from killing him like they were hired for and changed it to a kidnapping gone wrong, it was clear someone was out to break up this lovely couple.

While I liked both characters, it was the only saving grace to the story. The plotline had an amazing number of holes in the logic and the scenario was a bit farfetched. Ultimately Radley delivered a tale that was acceptable but a reader looking for logic and depth won’t find it here.

--Shirley Lyons

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