Ballantine, Jun 2003, 19.95, 384 pp.
In 1997 Borrego Springs, California, lawyer Arthur Litton offers a million dollars to buy baby Christopher for his clients, the child's grandparents. The father of the child, their son Rick recently died. Caroline Graham knows she cannot win a court battle against the wealthy Saunders so she disappears with her child.
Six years later, private investigator Jake Montgomery thinks he has found the vanished son of his deceased buddy Rick. Jake travels to Starlight Cove to meet painter Carly Nolan, single mother of six year old Christopher. Upon seeing her resemblance to a photo that Rick gave him of his fiancée, Jake concludes he has found Caroline. Jake knows reporting this would make his firm, but waits because he wants to do the right thing by Rick.
Jake introduces himself to Carly at the gallery. She finds him attractive, but fears any relationship might expose her and Chris. Jake is surprised by her vulnerability, but believes the guilty run and hide. He wonders if Chris might be better off with his widowed wealthy grandmother. As he begins to fall in love, his actions expose Carly and Chris.
This is a strong engaging relationship drama that hooks the reader from the start through a fully developed secondary cast supplementing the prime plot. Carly is a delightful protagonist living in fear, yet braving everything thrown at her. Jake seems too perfect as he seeks a middle ground between the woman he loves and the mother of his deceased best friend. Readers will appreciate this robust family drama.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner