Father, Unknown (Harlequin SuperRomance #784)

By: Tara Taylor Quinn

Series: Tara Taylor Quinn Untitled Duet - Hayden Sisters

Book Number: 1

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


Following a terrible subway accident, Anna Hayden awoke with no memory of who she was, why she was in New York, or who the father of her unborn baby was. Thanks to a bulletin that was put out by Anna's doctor asking for information on her identity, her picture was seen by Jason Whitaker, a local news anchor. Jason and Anna had lived in California, and he had been Anna's boyfriend for two years until they had broken up just three months earlier due to a dispute over Anna's connection to her only remaining identical triplet sister, Abby. After consulting with Abby, Jason discovers that Anna left home two months earlier after giving her family a mandate not to try to find her for the next year, because she needed to find herself after the death of their other sister, Audrey. Where Anna has been for the last two months, and who she might have been with, is a total mystery to everyone. Unfortunately, the doctor doesn't believe that the blow to the head which Anna received during the accident was significant enough to cause such extensive memory loss, and thinks that her mind may be hiding from some emotional trauma instead. In spite of all that has happened, Jason still loves Anna, so he takes her home and helps her to start putting the pieces of her life back together. As they spend time with each other, Anna begins to fall in love with Jason all over again, but what will become of their rekindled relationship when Anna remembers the father of her baby or the events that drove her and Jason apart in the first place?


I can't recall where I first heard about Father, Unknown, but based on the synopsis, I thought this would be another book that I would really enjoy. It has three of my favorite themes, amnesia, pregnancy, and a reunion romance, but in spite of that, the story still fell flat for me. The book got off to a promising start with several different mysteries brewing. No one knew where Anna, the heroine, had been or what she had been doing for the past two months before she turned up with amnesia. Consequently, no one knew who the father of her baby was either, since the doctors were estimating that she was two months pregnant, and she hadn't seen Jason, the hero, for three months. There was also the question of exactly what had transpired between Jason and Anna's sister, Abby, which had caused Anna and Jason to break up, and the mysterious murder of Anna's other identical triplet sister, Audrey, as well as which one of these things might be the trauma that was causing Anna's amnesia. With all these questions to answer, I thought there would be lots of interesting things going on, but unfortunately that was not to be. Jason and Anna uncovered very few clues along the way, and most added more questions instead of answering them, and others, in my opinion, were not properly vetted. For example, a private investigator that Jason hired found the name of a prominent man Anna had been spending time with and Anna received a phone message from the same man, but no one ever tried to locate or contact him. They used the excuse that he was on an extended business trip in Europe, but in this modern age, it still seems like it would have been a fairly simple matter to track him down. It would have saved everyone a lot of heartache if they had, but then again, the story would have ended about halfway through if someone had been smart enough to try. The mysteries in this book unfolded so slowly, I became frustrated on more than one occasion at the agony of waiting for something to happen, and for the first time ever, I was actually tempted to peek at the ending just to end my misery. Self-control won out, and I didn't though, but sadly, I can't really say that the ending was worth the wait either.

I wouldn't say that I disliked Anna and Jason, but neither did I really warm up to either one of them. Both they and the main secondary characters of Abby and Sunny all seemed to have insecure, dysfunctional and/or co-dependent personalities with very little positive growth occurring during the course of the story, which didn't really endear them to me. Anna and Abby, along with their now-deceased sister, Audrey, were identical triplets. I know that identicals tend to have very close bonds with one another, but the relationship these sisters shared seemed emotionally unhealthy to me. It's no wonder that Anna finally decided to go away to see if she could make it on her own, and I applauded that decision. What I didn't understand was her reasoning in not contacting Jason once she got to New York. When all these things were revealed it ended up being nothing more than a disappointing series of stubborn misunderstandings. I think the author was trying to paint Jason as having a sympathetic childhood of being shuttled back and forth between divorced parents and always feeling like he was playing second fiddle to someone or something else, but his problems didn't seem to be all that unusual to me and probably could have been easily handled through some counseling. I also found myself frustrated with Jason on two counts. First, he continued going out with his co-worker, Sunny, even after he was starting to rebuild a relationship with Anna. Thankfully, he and Sunny had never slept together, and Jason only wanted to be friends with her, but to my way of thinking, he was playing with fire. It was abundantly obvious that Sunny wanted a whole lot more, and Jason knew it. The other thing that aggravated me was that in most pregnancy themed romances where the baby was conceived with a man other than the hero, the hero usually steps up to the plate, doting on both mother and baby. This is a large part of what makes these stories so appealing and romantic to me, but with Jason, it took until the last third of the book for him to finally come to terms with the idea of playing father to Anna's baby and actually become an active part of their lives. Granted it was fairly realistic for the circumstances, but his jealously of "the other man" when he was seeing another woman became rather tiresome. I just didn't feel like the author explored Anna and Jason' s backstories concisely enough, and she made their current circumstances a little too complicated, which made it very difficult for me to get to know them or relate to them.

In my opinion, there wasn't enough interaction between Anna and Jason until over halfway through the book and what had existed up to that point was rather tepid. There were just too many scenes and conversations involving only one of them and a secondary character and not enough scenes with just the two of them. Even after Anna and Jason actively started to rekindle their love, there was a lot of push-and-pull, and holding each other at arms length while fearing the things that Anna might remember. I don't pretend to be an expert on amnesia, so maybe it's normal procedure, but the doctor instructing Jason not to tell Anna about their past together and let her hopefully remember on her own didn't help matters either. Instead, all of these things worked in a counterproductive way to create a lack of any deep romance or emotional development. In fact, I felt so little chemistry between Anna and Jason that I had a hard time believing these two had supposedly been hopelessly in love and near marriage just three months before Anna's accident. The overall pace of the book was pretty slow, and I thought the voice was rather passive. I felt like the author was telling me about what was happening to the characters rather than the characters being active participants in their own story. There seemed to be a lot of repetitive introspection, especially on Anna's part, and I found the dialog to be rather stilted. Overall, I was never able to fully immerse myself in the story or truly care about the characters. Father, Unknown was my first read by Tara Taylor Quinn, and it is the first in an untitled duet about the Hayden sisters with Abby becoming the heroine of the sequel, The Heart of Christmas. I may consider reading it at some point in the future, but with a less-than-stellar first experience with Ms. Quinn and never really gaining a liking for Abby in this book, I'll hardly be in a hurry to do so.


Tara Taylor Quinn


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