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REVIEW: The Son He Never Knew by Kristi Gold

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.

The Son He Never Knew Kristi GoldJessica 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-

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Junne
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 17:09:26

    I still don’t get why she marries the bad guy: is she homeless, or jobless, or is it just a case of the “I’m pregnant I have to get married or else people will think I’m a ho”?

  2. Kim
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 17:37:38

    As a deputy sheriff, wouldn’t it be better for Chase to suggest Jessica lawyer up and not answer any questions w/o counsel and not suggest she simply lie? Also, I can’t respect a heroine who allows her child to be mistreated. Did being taken care of take precedence over her child’s well-being?

  3. Emily
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 18:07:31

    Why the C- versus a D or an F or a DNF?

  4. Sunita
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 18:36:54

    Oh dear. I read a book by Gold a few years back and really liked it. It was nothing like this. Talk about a throwback.

  5. Jane
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 19:06:48

    @Junne – I think she didn’t know she was pregnant. Why she married the bad guy is a mystery. My guess is that she just couldn’t function by herself?@

    Emily: Oh the thin line between the C- or the D. I finished so it is not a DNF. I guess I looked at the books I rated in the past and this wasn’t as crazy. I did really dislike the way in which the secret baby plot played out but it was publishable. I know, it could have easily been given a D grade.

  6. SH
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 19:35:00

    Would have got an F from me!

    Harriet Klausner gave it five stars of course. I don’t suppose you’d post this on Amazon to balance the fake review out?

    “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.”

    I considered this one, but then didn’t bother buying when I realised what would happen.

    I have NEVER, EVER read a decent secret baby book – meaning one where I didn’t want the heroine to be shot.

  7. Coleen Kwan
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 20:08:17

    I think the best secret baby story I’ve read was Margaret Watson’s ‘Can’t Stand The Heat’.

  8. Emily
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 22:26:45

    Thank you Jane!

  9. Ros
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 04:51:47

    @SH: The Secret She Can’t Hide by India Grey. The heroine works very hard indeed to tell the hero about the baby but circumstances she can’t control mean that he doesn’t find out for several years. It worked for me.

  10. Emmy
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 08:12:02

    Did we read the same book? I loved this and every other book I’ve read by this author.

  11. Sarah_Florida
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 16:18:18

    I don’t like it if the time passed is greater than 2-3 years. I really don’t like books where they have been apart for 10 years or more, especially if its a secret baby plot. You can have a whole life in 10 years and be a different person to what you were when the H/h first meet.

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