Daisy's Back in Town by Rachel Gibson
Daisy Lee Monroe, nee Brooks, is back in her hometown of Lovett, Texas, because she has something very important to discuss with her old childhood friend, Jackson, Jack, Parrish. Fifteen years ago Jack and Daisy had had quite the steamy, yet hush-hush relationship, until his parents died. Wanting space Jack had pushed Daisy away only to have her show up and announce her marriage to their best friend, Steven Monroe. Now after two years of medical treatments Steven is dead of brain cancer and Daisy has finally decided to tell Jack that the reason she left all those years ago, the reason she married Steven so abruptly, is because she was pregnant with Jack's son. Now Nathan is fifteen and Daisy realizes that she has waited far too long. Unfortunately Jack is no more inclined to listen to Daisy Lee than he was on that long ago night when she and Steven broke his heart. Daisy is terrified of what Jack will do when he finds out, but that doesn't stop her from remembering all the happy memories she shared with Jack, and the memories that she shared with Jack and Steven.
Jack is not all happy to have Daisy back in his life drudging up memories he never wanted to confront again. Despite her best attempts to get Jack alone he does an admirable job of dodging all her attempts at telling him the truth until one night, after a wild time at the bar, they end up in bed together. Suddenly both know that everything between them that they had believed to be dead, was far from gone. But when Nathan shows up at Jack's shop and Jack realizes what Daisy had done, he is even more mad and more convinced than ever that Daisy is not a woman he could ever love again. He is determined to get to know his son even if his means of doing so isn't exactly to Daisy's liking. The more he gets to know Nathan the more he realizes that Daisy, and to some extent, Steven, will always be an important part of his life, both past and future, and maybe it is time to let go of old hurts to move on with his life. Daisy has plans to return to Seattle, but the more time she spends with Jack, and the more she sees Nathan getting to know his father, the more she contemplates making some drastic changes of her own- if Jack is willing to forgive and love her again.
This is my second Rachel Gibson and her second secret "baby" plot. I know that this used to be a romance novel staple but maybe because it is no longer quite so common I actually tend to enjoy them. I love the angst and unruly emotions it creates from the anger to the love to the frustration. Just as in "Simply Irresistible" Gibson does an excellent job dealing with this surplus of emotions from Jack's anger and resentment tinged with quite a bit of lust, to Daisy's regret and fear also tinged with quite a bit of lust, to Nathan's confusion and hope. This is just something Gibson obviously does very well which is quite good as this book was very character and emotion driven. In a secret child plot I imagine it is always important for the author to adequately portray how the male forgives and falls in love with the woman who kept his child from him and how the woman forgives herself and reconciles herself with her (possible) mistake. And to do this all in a way that doesn't become overdrawn or maudling and keeps the ready still completely sympathetic to both protagonists. Gibson does this wonderfully- although I won't mind reading a non-secret child plot from her.
Fortunately I felt as though this book was different enough from "Irresistible" that it was not at all a problem for me at all. They were two completely different books although both featured quite a bit of Texas twang and kitsch. There was more than a little too much Texas-ness for me in this book from the country music to the "Don't Mess with Texas" and such T-shirts, to the big-hair and drawls. And to be honest I didn't find it very flattering to Texans either- unless everyone in Texas really is a caricature of everything you see about them on TV. There was a fair amount of steam that was made even better because it was driven by all that pent up lust and emotions that Daisy and Jack had been harboring for each other for fifteen years. I liked how Steven wasn't made out to be a villian and how Daisy never really says she made a mistake or regrets her decision because it was obvious that Steven was a really great guy who was probably just a little misguided. And I liked how her moving back to Lovitt wasn't accompanied by great talks about how much better Texas is than Seattle and how much she'd missed small town life and blah-di-blah.
Rating: A very good book with very sympathetic, realistic and well written characters with some wonderful all encompassing emotions.