Every time I review a romance novel, I always have to start with the disclaimer that I don’t normally read romance novels, because I feel like I’m not well-equipped to review a genre if it’s not my usual type of book. However, I’ll make an exception if the author is someone I know, so long as you (if you’re a romance reader) understand that I’m no expert on the conventions of the genre.
I’ve reviewed several books in the past by my friend Patty Froese Ntihemuka — she and I were, for a time, both writing Biblical fiction for the same Christian publisher. But her heart was always in romance and her ambition was always to get a contract with Harlequin’s Love Inspired line of Christian romances. Now, writing under the pen name Patricia Johns, she has just released her first Love Inspired title, His Unexpected Family (I hope Harlequin’s Secret Service is not going to come after me for revealing her real identity, but we’ve been long-distance writer-friends for so long I just had to brag about how proud I am of her for keeping her eyes on the goal with such determination and finally getting there!)
His Unexpected Family tells the story of kindergarten teacher Emily, who becomes guardian of her cousin’s newborn baby when the cousin is killed in a car accident, and Greg, the police chief who brings her the baby and, of course, falls for her. The complication here is that Greg has determined never to have kids of his own because of the pain he experienced when his own police-officer dad died in the line of duty, so a girl, however charming, who comes with a ready-made family makes him pretty cautious. Of course obstacles will be overcome — with a romance novel, the question is never whether but when the couple will get together. Greg and Emily are likable characters, but my greatest interest in reading this story was solving the mystery that surrounded baby Cora — why had Emily’s cousin had a baby and not told anyone in the family, why did she choose Emily as the guardian, and where was she going the night she was killed? These little hints of intrigue bring something special to a sweet, family centred-romance.