Dear Ms. Gold:
I probably should have stopped reading at the first chapter when I figured out that the male protagonist of the story would not figure out he had a son until said son was 10 years old, but I didn’t. Unfortunately, the story never got any better.
Jessica Keller and Chase Reed are supposed to be platonic friends. Jessica has been dating Dalton Wainwright on and off for years. Chase learns that Dalton has proposed and the night before Chase ships out for Afghanistan, Chase heads over to Jessica’s dorm room to say goodbye and tell her not to marry Dalton. That night, Jessica and Chase comfort each other in a physical manner. Two weeks later, Jessica marries Dalton.
Jessica, lord where do I start. She appears to marry Dalton because “he can take care of her.”
He nailed her with a serious stare. “Are you going to marry him, Jess?”
She’d asked herself that question many times during the month she and Dalton had been apart. So far, no solid answer. “I could do worse.”
“You could do better.”
“He’s going to take good care of me, Chase. He’ll make sure I have a great life.”
I had to check to make sure I was reading a modern romance. Jessica’s marriage to Dalton so soon after her physical encounter with Chase places the parentage of her child in question. We are suppose to believe that Dalton was suspicious of Danny’s paternity due to how poorly Dalton treats Danny.
Fast forward 10 years and Chase is back from the war, having served several tours, and is now a deputy sheriff and Jessica is a school teacher. A domestic dispute emergency call was placed and Chase responds knowing that the address is that of Jessica Wainwright nee Keller. When he arrives, Dalton Wainwright is lying unconscious with blood pooling around his head. Chase knows immediately that Jessica cannot have done anything and even suggests that when she does give her statement, she shade the truth.
While CSI isn’t know if its accuracy either, even rudimentary familiarity with forensics would have led Jessica as well as Chase, not to mention Chase’s father the current Sheriff, to the conclusion that the angle of the blow on the head of Dalton would indicate the height of the wielder of the weapon. But simple logic escapes every one here. As for actual investigating of this crime, it consists of taking two statements, one from Jess and one from Dalton.
Despite Jessica being a suspect, Chase takes her to his home and then finds a place for her to live. Jessica’s best friend is Dalton’s sister and even she seems unconcerned that Jessica may have bashed his head in. Dalton’s father, the wealthiest man in the county, is determined to see Jessica pay for her wrongdoing.
Let’s just throw out the whole plot and concentrate on the romance. Jess spent five years married to an asshole who treated her kid like dirt. All the while she thinks that maybe her kid is Chase’s and not Dalton’s. She never gets any paternity test done and she never really even questions that perhaps Chase deserves to know, particularly after the divorce.
But putting aside this part, is the romance between Jess and Chase a beautiful and wondrous thing? No, unfortunately not. It’s tepid at best. Chase is constantly saying he would make a bad father and mate for someone while at the same time getting a cabin for Jessica, fixing up said cabin, connecting with her son, and generally acting like a concerned father and husband. I suppose Chase’s protestations are there so the reader can find some sympathy in Jessica’s actions. It might be reasonable for Jessica to have never pursued paternity while Dalton and she were married but given the systemic verbal abuse her child suffered, I wasn’t convinced of her decision making process as time went on.
Jessica did not appear to have grown in the ten years apart from Chase and she didn’t grow in the book. She was one who was always needing to be taken care of. I guess it’s a good thing that there were men around who wanted to take care of her. But the emotional fall out from the secret baby reveal was given short shrift as was the manner in which Jessica revealed the truth. No pesky tests for her. She just knows. It’s a mother’s instinct, you know. C-