One-Night Love-Child
by Anne McAllister, contemporary (2008)
Harlequin Mills & Boon, £2.99, ISBN 978-0-263-86422-9


One-Night Love-Child, huh? How does one become a love child for only a night? Does that mean that the careless parents get married the day after the child is conceived? In this story, it definitely takes five years, give and take a few months, before the love child in question even meets his father, so I have no idea what that title is actually about.

I also have no idea how this book ended up as part of the Modern Romance line because - look, ma! - there is not one millionaire asshole in sight. I'm pretty sure an asshole of either Greek or Spanish origin is compulsory for that line, along with a virginal farmgirl who will become pregnant a few chapters into the story.

This one is about Flynn Murray and Sara McMaster who had a thing five years ago before they went their separate ways. Because he was too busy since then trying to the the poster boy of emos everywhere, it took five years for Sara's letter to catch up with him. By that time, he has settled down to become the Earl of Dunmorey, doing responsible things on behalf of all mankind by breeding horses and pouting about his past. I wonder whether he has a Livejournal account that he uses to write awful poetry set to Dashboard Confessional songs. Oh, I bet he has. At any rate, after learning that he has knocked up Sara five years ago, he quickly rushes from Ireland to Montana in order to catch up on lost time. On Valentine's Day, too.

If you are expecting flowers and wine, however, prepare to be disappointed. One thing that disturbs me about this story is how Flynn spent much more money on his horses than on wooing the woman he supposedly loves back to him. He's an Earl, after all. What's wrong with a few diamond rings and sixty or seventy shopping sprees all over Europe, eh? But you know romance heroines, I'm sure. They are a hardy breed that don't need to be pampered and coddled.

Therefore, the story is pretty much Sara going, augh, augh, this can't be, they are too different. The kid doesn't want to see Flynn. The kid of course bonds with Flynn so Sara now changes her song. They are too different! She will never fit in! Then Flynn takes her and their boy Will to Ireland and she's like, ooh, Ireland is so beautiful. Oh, I bet. The castle belonging to that guy doesn't hurt either, I'm sure. But of course Sara is too virtuous to care for money, so she'll have to find another excuse to prolong everyone's pain.

In defiance of farmgirls and magiritsa millionaires everywhere, One-Night Love-Child has hero who is, dare I say it, nice. In fact, Flynn is a sympathetic guy who does his angst pretty well in the sense that he doesn't let his self-pity hold him back from doing the right thing with Sara and William. Sara is on the prickly side but I can see where she is coming from. If I'm in her shoes and Flynn shows up without even a diamond the size of an ostrich egg to make up for the last five years, I'd want him to squirm too. But the author overplays Sara's playing too hard to get and by the midpoint of the story, I'm wishing that Sara will at least vary the pattern of her whining. Flynn brings along the heavily postmarked letter as evidence that he only recently received her letter, so it's not as if she can say that he has been living it up in the last five years. Shouldn't the fact that Flynn came immediately upon realizing that he's a father count for something? Sara's behavior doesn't become truly grating to me, but I do feel that she unreasonably holds out against Flynn for too long here.

Besides, as a woman I'm rather insulted that she doesn't even try to get that guy to spend some of those bazillion dollars he has on her pleasure. Someone should have told her, "Come on, lady, you've been a single mother for five years. You deserve some pampering too, no? Stop acting like a holy cow too good for material wealth!"

What I really like about One-Night Love-Child is how the characters have valid reasons to feel and behave the way they do. I don't necessarily agree with all of Sara's actions here, for example, but Ms McAllister allows me into Sara's head enough to let me understand why she feels the way she does. Flynn is really a nice hero, especially with how he tries so hard to clear the air instead of resorting to He-Man style "You are my woman! Shut up and come with me, now, woman!" steamroller techniques to get Sara to go along with him like most heroes of this line will do. Oh, and the kid is cute without being too precocious or annoying.

One-Night Love-Child therefore is a pretty well-written and enjoyable tale.

Rating: 83


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