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    Review of THE DADDY ISSUE by Melissa Beck (see her website)

    Wild Rose Publishing

    Daniel Nicholson is dissatisfied with his life. Million dollar deals, businessman of the year awards, and beautiful blondes don't mean as much to him as they once did. When an acquaintance shows him a photo of a woman he once dated and her little girl--a girl who, impossibly, looks just like Daniel, he suspects that he's missing something important--like his own daughter. Dropping everything, including the deal that can make or break his company, he leaves Chicago for small-town Ohio to track down a woman who abandoned him after a two week fling--a woman he's never forgotten.

    Gretchen Parks knows she did the right thing. Daniel was a player, always ready to move on to the next deal, the next party, or the next woman. When she saw Daniel with another woman after discovering that she was pregnant, she decided to simplify her life and head back to her hometown--without letting Daniel know that he was about to become a father. Now, though, Gretchen's daughter, Amy, is old enough to wonder why all the other children have daddies and she doesn't. Her school's frequent 'dad's day' events only makes things worse. But when Daniel walks back into Gretchen's life, she can only remember the reasons she left in the first place--starting with the fact that Daniel isn't the type who'll ever settle down.

    Author Melissa Beck explores the ever-popular 'secret baby' fantasy with a hard-charging hero who's suddenly realized that he needs more than money and a heroine who's afraid of being hurt once more. Beck's strong writing is definitely the high point of this enjoyable story. Both Gretchen and Daniel are well drawn and complex characters with their own troubled pasts, mannerisms, and goals. United by their desire for one another and their love for Amy, they must struggle to overcome their doubts and the weight of their self-expectations.

    I did have some problems with the characters. Daniel seemed indifferent to the layoff of many of his employees, a layoff that occured because he took time out from his job to hunt down his child. While hunting down his child might have been the most important thing, he needed to be more sympathetic with the plight of those who lost their jobs just so he could find himself. Similarly, Gretchen quickly recognized that she was in love with Daniel, but she refused even to consider moving to Chicago with him. As he pointed out, Chicago does have benefits for Amy and for Gretchen. It was also where Daniel worked--and where he could provide good jobs for dozens of employees. Her simple announcement that she'd tried Chicago and it hadn't worked for her didn't seem enough. She hadn't tried it with a man who adored her. Ultimately, it was Daniel who made all of the sacrifices. Achieving true love should (it seems to me) demand that both sides at least be willing to sacrifice something for the other.

    THE DADDY ISSUE isn't perfect, but it's an enjoyable read.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 8/08/06

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