Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Her Secret, His Child by Paula Detmer Riggs

Normally I hate secret baby books because I believe women are just plain stupid and irresponsible when they play martyr or let their pride get in the way of doing the right thing for the sake of their child. Raising a child as a single mother with no support, financial or otherwise, is extremely difficult and not fair to the child's well being. IMO, the baby's father should at least be given the chance to act responsibly. Whether they do that, of course, is a whole different story. OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. End of lecture.

It seems that anytime I have such an intolerant attitude about something, along comes a book that provides some thought provoking moments. HSHC is a secret baby book but also deals with the controversial subject of date rape and both subjects are treated very realistically.

Mitch Scanlon is a former star football quarterback who was severely injured and left a paraplegic. Carly Anderson is president of a small financially strapped college who is hoping to attract Mitch to coach her football team and give the school a financial boost. Mitch is instantly attracted to Carly. Although Mitch has a feeling he has met Carly before, Carly pretends they are strangers. Mitch and Carly have a disastrous past. Years ago when they were both young college students they meet at a bar. Mitch takes her to a motel and after some heavy petting, Carly changes her mind and says 'no' just at the point of consummation when it is too late for him to pull back. While Mitch is technically a rapist I found I couldn't hate him.

I loved Mitch who is a very complex, tortured character. Even though he was cut down at the height of his career, he rebuilds his life while struggling to cope with his horrendous disability. He suffers deep anguish and guilt from his past actions and feels unworthy of Carly's love. His feeling that his paralysis was a just punishment for what he did to Carly years ago nearly broke my heart.

Carly Anderson is very hard to warm up to and makes some questionable decisions. Even though I disagreed, I could maybe understand her decision to keep the baby's identity a secret when she was a young traumatized rape victim. However, I did not understand the decision to deny Tracy, her college age daughter, knowledge of her paternity, especially when her father is so loving and willing to take responsibility. I think she has a right to this information no matter the circumstances of her conception. (Spoiler: At the end when Mitch and Carly use invitro-fertilization in order for to conceive, I thought how cruel that this child would know its father but not its sister, and Tracy would know her sister or brother but not her father. The IVF provided a too convenient ending that allowed them to start over. End Spoiler)

Although there were times I wanted to shake Carly, I thought these difficult issues were handled realistically. PDR is a good writer and provides surprising depth for the shorter category format. This was a very poignant story and I enjoyed it very much.

My grade: B+


Kristie said...

This one comes up for discussion quite a bit and I had it on my TBR pile for quite a while. I found it and decided to read it so I could join in discussions. I was barely into it though when I knew I wouldn't be able to read it. I felt too much of the hero's pain and I knew I would never understand or warm up to the heroine, that she would just make me very very angry - feelings I usually don't experience reading romance. In a way it's too bad since I'll never be able to join in discussions :(

ReneeW said...

I can understand where you are coming from. I really hestitated before starting this one for the same reasons. But I'm glad I read it. Mitch was a wonderful hero and I have to confess I was very curious about the sex. Turned out much better than I expected.

Avid Reader said...

Like Kristie has stated, this book generates a lot of discussion. Before I even found AAR, this book was recommended like crazy. I'd bought but would start and never finish it since I was in school. I'll have to find it and read it. With so much sitting around me literally, so many books, I'm buying more books than reading them these days. Thanks for the review.

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