His Daddy's Eyes
by Debra Salonen
(Harl. Super #934, $4.50, G) ISBN 0-373-70934-X
Debra Salonen's latest offers 297 pages filled with intrigue, good plotting, and great characters. You'll have a hard time putting this book down once you crack it open.

Lawrence "Ren" Bishop is a rising star in politics. Two years ago he spent the night with a mysterious woman who called herself "Jewel" and wants to make certain said night won't come back to haunt him at reelection time. Ren hires his PI friend Bo to find Jewel and ascertain whether or not she's a potential blackmail threat. When Bo returns with the news that Jewel's real name is Julia and that she was killed in a boating accident, Ren feels saddened rather than relieved. His sadness then turns to shock when Bo announces that Julia gave birth to a son named Brady roughly nine months to the day of their fling...

Bookstore owner Sara Carsten has been raising her nephew Brady since her sister and brother-in-law were tragically killed. She thinks nothing of it when a man named Bo and his handsome friend Ren start hanging around her bookstore. Sara finds her thoughts turning more and more to Ren as the days progress, so naturally she is devastated when he confesses who he is and why he sought her out to begin with. Ren might be able to do things to her heart that she hadn't thought possible, but there was no way on earth she is giving up Brady without a fight...

The most refreshing aspect of His Daddy's Eyes is the three-dimensionality of the characters. All of the characters, whether primary or secondary, possess both good and bad qualities. There are no evil ex-mistresses capable of giving Cruella DeVil a run for her money, nor are there any do-gooding saints that make your teeth ache with their syrupy sweet perfection. Ren starts out on the shallow, "looks are everything" side, but grows deeper and more lovable with each turn of the page. Sara has a moderately checkered past, but becomes exactly the woman she wants to be. The secondary characters (a PI and two prostitutes) all have their own downfalls and successes, making them well-rounded people we can all relate to.

The plot and subplots of His Daddy's Eyes are also phenomenally well penned. All of Salonen's characters are dealing with several emotional issues at once, keeping the book fast paced and attention grabbing with their individual and intertwining stories. At least one follow-up book is sure to come out of this novel, most likely featuring Bo the private eye and Claudie the prostitute. (That oughta be a good one!)

The only aspect of this book that could have been slightly better is the heroine herself. She starts out on the feisty side (which is great), but begins to fade into the woodwork somewhat against the colorful hero and secondary characters toward the book's end. Nevertheless, Sara is still a likable protagonist and His Daddy's Eyes is, without a doubt, the best novel I've read to date from Harlequin's Superromance line.

--Tina Engler

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