Favorite Lines: “Her mother had always said that Ashleigh held the record in the Forrester family for the scream that could not only wake the dead but everybody sleeping this side of the Blue Mountains.”(99)
Ashleigh Forrester had a torrid affair with Jake Marriott when she was twenty. She lost herself in Jake and a different country (England) until she found out that she was pregnant. Jake had pounded into her head two facts, he wanted no children ever and he would never get married. So Ashleigh did what most women would do, packed up and ran home to her family in Australia.
Four and a half years later Jake has come to Austraila to bury his father and set up shop in his ancestral home. He hires Ashleigh to find buyers for the huge collection of antiques in the home as he wants nothing to remind him of his deceased parent. Ashleigh now has to decide if she should come out and tell her ex-lover about their child or keep her silence. Making the situation tougher is the fact that her son wants to meet his father.
This is obviously a Harlequin Presents. When I started to read the opening chapter, I was ready to put the book down because I thought I’d read it before. I’ve had bad experiences with the Presents line selling books with similar plots and scenes back to back. For example, I’d buy a book in May and a similar one would be released in June. I made myself keep reading and was pleased to find it was slightly different from the other Presents I’ve read lately.
I have a few problems with this book. A major problem for me is that the hero was an ass in the past and while Ms. Milburne does her best to redeem him, I don’t believe that he can change a lifetime of beliefs in the time period allotted him. Another issue that irks the heck out of me is women who hide their children. It’s not just that they hide them, but that the kid isn’t around to inconvenience the couple. I am usually the first person to say “I read a book to escape” but this drives me nuts. How many women would keep leaving their child with family for days or most of the day, several days in a row?
I completely do not buy the conclusion. It is too neat and does nothing to ease the fears that got the couple to the position they were in. I do like that Ms. Milburne brought up the issue of child abuse. I like that she has it happening in the upper class, while leaving the middle class as the ‘happy Cleaver’ family. I think too often books fall into the stereotypical attitude of relegating child abuse to the lower classes. This book did an excellent job of showing that all the riches in the world cannot prevent child abuse if a parent is ill enough to dish it out.
The book also had a great reason for keeping the heroine ‘pure’ until the hero came into the picture despite her having a child. (Yeah, sounds weird but she has a believable situation that allows the heroine to refrain from sex until her hero comes.) You can buy this April 2007 Harlequin Presents here.