Top positive review
A wonderful book..just not a thriller or traditional romance
on December 14, 2003
I'll start out by saying I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would happily recommend it to others. However, the story was not at all what I expected, nor what the jacket or editorial summary promised.
The bare bones of the story are mostly as described - a happily married new mom living in Mexico is brutally attacked and her baby stolen. Fast forward ten years as our heroine is now divorced, running a non-profit organization that helps to man searches for lost people and desperately trying to find the son who was kidnapped (despite family and friends wanting her to give up and move on). There's not a lot of plot or relationship building that helps us get from point A to point B, but to move the story along, Milla just happens to stumble across the one man who can help her find her son and (shock) he's studly and silent and brooding, just like her.
The book jacket promises that Milla is extraordinarily gifted at finding children, but apparently the editors forgot to leave that part in the book, because apart from one brief and not particularly suspenseful search, we never see Milla find anyone. Ms. Howard tries very hard to make us understand that despite her outward tough girl, Milla is a girly cream puff, longing to be a housewife and mom. I didn't really see any tough girl, but I guess the fact that Milla wears a lot of fluttery pastel blouses and sundresses supports the latter.
The hero is sexy in a surly, sort of dusty and menacing sort of way, and apparently he has a sweet inner self that Milla manages to unearth. Surprisingly for Ms. Howard, the sex scenes were fairly bland to me and I found myself enjoying the perspective of the hero and how their relationship affected him more than anything from Milla's point of view.
As for the villains, I'm no Einstein, but I figured those two out by the first quarter of the book. There was nothing at all surprising, interesting or fulfilling about their exposure and while I don't expect every loose end tied by the end of the book, what happens to these two was remarkably...nothing.
All that said, the final 60 or so pages of this book were completely riveting. No contemporary romance author writes angst and pain better than Ms. Howard and I found myself with tears on my face for most of those 60 pages. Those pages alone elevate this book from a formulaic romantic suspense novel to a really good study of the devastation caused by the loss of a child, the sweetness of giving a gift even though it tears your soul out and the road back to living. The final page (the final paragraph, really) was touching, even if it was predictable.
Don't buy this if you're looking for a suspenseful mystery or thriller, because that's just not what this. There's not a lot of background detail, not a lot of scene detail and parts of the characters are less nuanced than I've come to expect from Ms. Howard. But as a really touching story of one woman's journey from obsession to peace, this really is a book that works.