Review of THE UNKNOWN DAUGHTER by Anna DeStefano (see her website) ****
Harlequin Superromance #1234, October 2004
Carrinne Wilmington needs a liver donor to save her life. But her only known blood relative is her sixteen-year-old daughter, Maggie, and she refuses to allow Maggie to risk her life. There is one other possibility--Carrinne's father, whose identity she never knew. So Carrinne returns to her hometown of Oakwood, Georgia, to retrieve her mother's diary, in which she is sure her father's name must appear.
Oakwood holds many unhappy memories for Carinne, and she hopes to not have to deal with them. But one of those memories--former bad boy, now Sheriff Eric Rivers--catches her trying to break into her grandfather's mansion. Eric doesn't know he has a daughter, because back when she was conceived, he broke up with Carinne declaring he wanted no responsibilities.
The secret-baby plot is a familiar one, but Ms. DeStefano gives it a fresh treatment. Rather than milk the central conflict until it's been sucked dry, she blends it with other conflicts--with Carinne's ambivalent feelings for her dying grandfather, her daughter's rebellion, and the complex emotions regarding Carinne's own mystery father. All of the different forces bombarding Carrinne make what could have been a predictable story leap off the page with freshness and originality. This is Ms. DeStefano's debut novel, and I look forward to more from this author.
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