Harlequin Presents #148
MILD SPOILERS 😉
The Book & Characters – For the Love of Sara
For the Love of Sara isn’t one of Anne Mather’s bests. It features a rather unlikeable hero, which is par for the course for Mather. He’s named, pompously enough, Joel Kingdom. It doesn’t help that he’s a functioning alcoholic who keeps cans of beer in his glove compartment to help him deal with stress.
Plus, Joel has horrible fashion sense. He’s one of those cheroot-smoking males so prevalent in Mather’s books. He shows off his vintage 70’s wardrobe, wears silk shirts open down to his waist, revealing his hairy, medallioned chest. He decks out in maroon velvet tuxedos, lots of tight-fitting corduroy bell-bottoms, and even a sexy matching blue suede suit.
Joel Kingdom is a successful artist from a highborn, wealthy family. His father disowned him when he refused to go into the family banking business.
The heroine, Rachel Gilmour, isn’t any better. She’s a professional martyr who’s made a lot of poor life decisions. When the book opens, she’s about to embark on another bad choice, but in this case, she’s doing it to save someone she cares for.
Joel’s younger half-brother is concerned he may get written out of their father’s will. Their elderly father is about hop into a third marriage, this time with Rachel.
The kink in the ironworks is that Rachel and Joel had a brief affair several years back. Joel taught art, and Rachel was one of his young students. The fling ended rather abruptly when Rachel thought they had a serious relationship after making love. Joel, for his part, was not ready for anything long-term but was willing to cohabitate. Rachel, who had been a virgin, wanted a lifetime commitment or nothing, so she left him.
Joel is gobsmacked to hear that his father plans to marry his former girlfriend. He finds that Rachel works as a maid for an aged Colonel and seeks her out. What he discovers shocks him. Rachel has a six-year-old daughter named Sara. At first, Rachel tries to convince Joel she’s a widow, then she concedes that Rachel is the result of their one night together.
Because Joel had been so adamant that he was unready for marriage and family life, Rachel didn’t turn to him. Instead, she went to his father, asking for money for an abortion. Of course, she planned for no such thing but needed some income to help her get on her feet until she could find gainful employment.
Rachel reveals she is marrying Joel’s father because he has the financial resources to help Sara, who has a fatal blood-borne disease. Joel is determined to put a stop to this. He never abandoned his child and wants to be in her life now.
However, Rachel’s bitterness regarding Joel’s refusal to marry her in the past controls much of her emotions. She’ll marry James Kingdom, and that’s that.
Joel’s father wants revenge upon his son for refusing to be a part of the family business.
Joel has another woman in his life, but his attraction to Rachel never died out. Now that he knows they share a daughter, he pursues her, intending to marry. Even so, Rachel is irrationally stubborn. What will it take to get these two together?
Final Analysis of For the Love of Sara
Rachel was a tough character to understand. Her pride was so great; she refused to do what was best for her daughter. Instead, she made a bad situation worse.
Joel didn’t abandon Rachel in her time of need. He simply declared at 28, he wasn’t ready for marriage. That didn’t mean he would have tossed Rachel and his child aside. Rachel really needed to have a deep heart-to-heart with Joel before throwing in the towel and leaving him.
The problem in For the Love of Sara is one so common in romances: a major lack of communication.
These were two people who–in the present time–wanted each other and had a daughter who needed stability. Joel had more than enough money to pay for Sara’s medical bills. Joel was a bit of a player but compared to Rachel’s stupid idea of marrying her daughter’s grandfather (which wouldn’t have been a marriage of convenience, but a real marriage!), displayed a lack of common sense and pettiness I couldn’t get over.
Mather’s prose is always engaging, but this book was a dud.