by Joan Kilby

February 2003
ISBN: 0-373-71114-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Harlequin #1114
Mass Market Paperback

Child of Their Vows is a bird’s eye view at a crumbling marriage, and the aftermath of an affair concealed for thirteen years.

Kelly and Max Walker were high school sweethearts, married now for thirteen years. They have four young daughters, and a marriage that precariously hangs in the balance.

Kelly has just gotten back out in to the world again; she’s working and struggling to maintain her home and family. Max resents Kelly’s real estate job as it takes her away from home... and from him. And when Max discovers he fathered a child while away the summer before he and Kelly were married, his world comes to a screeching halt, and is the straw that broke the camel's back for Kelly.

His son Randall is thirteen now, and Max is compelled to connect with him, but Kelly not only feels betrayed and abandoned, she wants nothing to do with the child born of Max’s affair. Max invites Randall to spend the summer with his family, without Kelly’s approval, creating a great divide, and the downward slide of their marriage. Kelly latches onto her grandmother’s sprained ankle as an excuse to temporarily move out, and refuses to get to know Randall. But Randall is a kind, intuitive young man, and he has a trick or two up his sleeve.

I loved the idea of a married couple in a romance novel; it brought new meaning to the time spent wondering what happens to a couple when they begin “happily ever after”. Marriage, and all its complexities, the give and take two people need when trying to balance life’s struggles was distinctly and, in this reader's opinion, accurately written.

Along with the emotions so starkly portrayed of betrayal, came the inadequacies Kelly feels over not giving Max the son he’s always wanted, feeling as though you don’t measure up, pervades the soul. Kelly needed to hear Max accept responsibility for his carelessness, and I cheered her on when she wouldn’t settle for less.

I was torn throughout this read, my anger with Max for having an affair, my pleasure that he wanted to know his son, and he wasn’t stuffing him in his “bad experience” closet. I loved him and hated him right along with Kelly. I experienced a myriad of emotions for Randall, sweet, and determined not to further ruin his biological father’s marriage; he senses the strain his very existence has put on a family he so desperately wants to become a part of.

Ms. Kilby penned a fabulous story with characters that are grippingly real, strong yet fragile. Emotionally stirring, bittersweet and uplifting is Child of Their Vows.

Reviewed in March 2003 by Connie.

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