Emily's Daughter by Linda Warren
(Harl. Superromance #1016, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN: 0-373-71016-X
Emily Cooper was the perfect only child. She's popular, gets good grades and dreams of becoming a doctor. All that comes to an end when her mother unexpectedly becomes pregnant at age forty. Selfish and spoiled, seventeen year-old Emily can't cope with the embarrassment her mother's pregnancy is causing her so she starts to rebel.

Enter Jackson Talbert, twenty-one and gorgeous. He arrives with his father for a fishing trip and stays with Emily's family. One thing leads to another; Emily ends up pregnant and can't find Jackson to tell him. Forced by her mother to give the baby up for adoption, Emily never really recovers from the loss and compensates by spoiling her teenage sister Becca.

It's hard to choose just where this book went bad because there were so many places. First off, none of the characters seems to have a shred of backbone in the face of adversity. Jackson's main excuse for never coming back to Emily is that his mother died unexpectedly and he just couldn't deal with anything else. He was twenty-one years old, an adult, and he just couldn't deal?

Emily is not much better. Her trauma over losing her child is understandable, but she literally wallows in her self-loathing. She was weak, she didn't stand up to her mother, and she is unworthy. It's hard to understand why she didn't get some therapy if she was so miserable. Several pages of angst about whether her motives were selfish follow every decision she makes. The worst is when she finally tells Jackson about their child.

Jackson works himself up into a self-righteous froth, berating Emily for giving away their child and how selfish she was. Although she initially tells him off, she later spends the night crying, thinking she deserves his hatred and disgust. This guy says he thinks she callously gave away their daughter. A seventeen year-old, who he ditched and never gave a second though to and she's the callous one who deserves his disgust? Frankly, Jackson's initial reaction was so obnoxious that no matter how many times he apologizes or what he does later, he never regains the ground with the reader.

Once they start looking for Emily's daughter it quickly becomes obvious who she's going to turn out to be. Unfortunately, the author thought it was still a big mystery and keeps the "suspense" up for a few more chapters. Several times, the reader is treated to characters looking at crucial documents and gasping in horror, while never revealing what they see. Enough already, we figured it out, get on with it.

Then the book nearly went flying across the room when Jackson and Emily have sex. When Jackson sadly comments that he has no condoms, Emily blithely says it's OK because it's "not her fertile time of the month". How stupid is that for a doctor? She already got pregnant once by accident and now she's going to rely on the rhythm method?

After the bombshell of finding Emily's daughter, the book descends into 100 pages of mind-numbing pathos. Emily and Jackson have the obligatory break-up for no apparent reason aside and everyone whines until the big hackneyed happy ending.

The last page of the epilogue tells the reader that Emily's daughter will have her own story published in 2002. Thanks for the warning.

--Anne Bulin

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