RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Father to Son by Janice Kay Johnson

B+

Title: From Father To Son
Author: Janice Kay Johnson
Publication Info: Harlequin 2012
ISBN: 9780373717644
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book From Father to Son This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Jennifer Coenen.  This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Long Contemporary Series Romance category.

The summary:     

Is an independent cop the best family man?

Niall MacLachlan's one priority is the law. He fought his way from the wrong side of the tracks to earn his badge and won't jeopardize it for anything. After all, trusting his family nearly cost him everything as a kid. So, no. This loner has no desire for a wife and children to call his own.

So why is his entirely too attractive landlady, Rowan Staley, slipping past all his defenses? She and her young family—complete with noisy dog—are everything Niall thinks he doesn't want. But he can't keep his distance when she turns to him for protection from a neighborhood threat.

And in the end, letting her go might be impossible.

And here is Jennifer's review:

I expected this Harlequin Superromance to focus on a family and its HEA, but the twist shook everything to the core. Like the plot, the characters seem to want to fit into stereotypes, but so often the main characters do or say or think something that goes completely against what the reader expects.

Rowan and Niall (yes, those are the names of the heroine and hero, respectively) have a hard time getting together. Rowan’s got a shitstorm brewing around her and Niall’s got a shitstorm brewing within. Negotiating those beasts to get to the happily-ever-after takes lots of patience and understanding. Luckily, that fits the characters and the story, so the reader hardly notices how long it takes to get from A to Z.

Some thoughts on Niall: What a complicated hero he must have been to write. Since he was a teenager (and the beginning of the book), he knew he needed unconditional love. He doesn’t embrace it, seek it out, or believe he can reciprocate it, but he recognizes he needs it. He’s a bad boy. A good cop, but a bad boy. Always has been. As often happens in these great stories we read, this bad boy had another side, and he cares. He defines his career in law enforcement by the creed “to serve and protect”, he helps his elderly landlord, and he keeps in touch with both brothers, even though estrangement seems their natural state. He plays bagpipes as his way to relieve stress and he participates in the piping community. (For one event, he wears his kilt, and yes, he tells Rowan what’s under it – but I won’t tell you!)

Some thoughts on Rowan: Her name makes me want to bash my head against a wall. It doesn’t flow well in the prose, which kept slowing down my reading, and there wasn’t any significant reason for her name to be such a complication. I didn’t love her, but I certainly liked her and could sympathize with her. I’m a mom too, so I totally got her freak-outs and exhaustion and sacrifices. She put Niall at arms length to protect her kids from his indecisiveness despite her own wicked attraction to him. But she did let him become a friend. Even though she could manage on her own, it was nice that she still let Niall help her when events could become overwhelming –a midnight trip to the ER, threats to her family which I will not reveal, and even just juggling extra-curricular activities sometimes.

The relationship took time to build. Some might find this to be a slow read, but I’d call it more realistic. These two have so much crap to get over before they can get together. That doesn’t happen overnight, or over one kiss, or even over one hunka-hunka-burnin’-love session.

What makes this book stand out the most, besides its shocking twist, is the focus on the psychology of the males’ relationships (Niall and his brothers, Rowan’s dead husband, his father and her son, Rowan’s father and the women in his life, Niall and Rowan’s son, and even Niall and Super Sam, the dog). This kind of exploration of male relationships doesn’t usually happen in romances, and I found that very interesting and engaging.

Ok, before I end this, let me say a few criticisms. I could get over them, but they need to be said. First, it seemed like two different editors read this book. In the first half, the author used uncommon punctuation very strangely (semicolons and hyphens in particularly). As a writing teacher, that made me crazy. Secondly, the sinister threat was foreshadowed early in the book and then not brought back up for a long time, so its first entrance was abrupt and jarring. And the quirk in Niall’s character (the bagpipe-playing) should have been introduced much earlier and made more important than it was, especially since the book’s front matter includes a letter to the reader about how exciting it was for the author to learn about bagpipes and their history.

I liked this story. I went ahead and bought the companion stories about the other two brothers. I guess that says it all.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    bamaclm says:

    You sold me and I bought it, but lord, I hate that cover!

  2. 2
    Jen C says:

    @bamaclm I’m so glad! I enjoyed reading it. Yeah, the cover and the title just don’t reflect the story.

  3. 3
    JacquiC says:

    I love Janice Kay Johnson’s books.  She is an auto-buy author for me.  The plot is not always perfect (the threat plot in this one didn’t quite work for me) and sometimes the characters aren’t entirely easy to connect with.  But the depth of the writing and the story arc is just so much better than many romances that are out there now.  Her characters seem to act and talk like actual people.  I particularly loved all three of the books in this trilogy—her law enforcement characters seem to work particularly well for me.

  4. 4
    DianeO says:

    I’ve read her books for a long time now, but Janice Kay Johnson wasn’t an auuto-buy for me until just the past couple years.  I’m really loving her work and I’m always hoping she has a new one when I look at eHarlequin every month.

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