He wants to take her child out of Africa…
The Busara elephant research and rescue camp on Kenya’s Serengeti is Anna Bekker’s life’s work. And it’s the last place she thought she’d run into Dr. Jackson Harper. As soon as he sets eyes on her four-year-old, Pippa, Anna knows he’ll never leave…without his daughter.
Furious doesn’t begin to describe how Jack feels. How could Anna keep this from him? He has to get his child back to the States. Yet as angry as he is with Anna, they still have a bond. But can it endure, despite the ocean—and the little girl—between them?
Review: This was my first experience of the HARLEQUIN HEARTWARMING imprint. As I prefer sweet, emotional stories to full on sexual description, this line suits me well. What I noticed most is the fact that, there is a roundness to this story, THE PROMISE OF RAIN. There is an entrancing African setting, a cast of characters, not just the focus couple. There’s also the most gorgeous little girl who jumps off the page and laughs at you. You just want to scoop her up and bury your nose in her corkscrew curly hair. That’s how real the writing was.
Anna Bekker runs an elephant rescue centre in the wilderness of Kenya. A dedicated vetinary doctor, she is studying the habits of elephants and bringing much needed relief to those elephants who have been damaged psychologically and physically, as a result of attacks by poachers,which have hurt them and killed and wounded their loved ones. She is supported by a dedicated team of Africans who are both loyal and proud. A single mother, Niara, lives with Anna and both mothers support each other in the job of rearing their two pre-schoolers. Both infants are lovingly tended, having been breastfed for a long time initially and are carefully tutored. We know that Niara hasn’t had it easy, but has found a refuge to rear her son along with Anna’s little one. But who is the father of Anna’s little Pippa Rose?
He arrives soon enough. As a sort of inspector, sent by the chief benefactor of the project, to check that the funds are going to good use. His shock at seeing his ex- girlfriend with a child who is old enough to be his fills him with amazement, wonder – and possessiveness. Recognizing the tiny girl as his own, by the way her age fits in and also by her strong physical resemblance to him, Jack vows to get his daughter back to America at any cost. He’s furious with Anna for failing to inform him that he was a parent. Both parents want to share the custody, but both want to be the chief caretaker. Anna has worked close to nature and being a mother, she knows that the mother-child bond is something Jack will probably never understand. Jack, for his part, wants his child back in the relative safety of the USA, in a pink Barbie bedroom in his apartment, playing with his sister’s kids after school. Anna, he decides, can visit whenever she wants. Anna argues that Pippa has hands on loving care at all times and that bringing her to the United States and dropping her into day care while he works his customary long hours will have a detrimental affect on the child’s emotional wellbeing. As the couple approach the US Consular Services in Nairobi to make their daughter’s passport, one wonders how this deadlock can be resolved.
Anna and Pippa’s visit to the USA to visit with little Pippa’s grandparents provides the opportunity to explore what made Jack and Anna the people they have become. Anna’s parents’ miserable marriage and messy divorce looks like the reason she didn’t break the news to Jack earlier. She didn’t want Jack to marry her for the baby’s sake, not wanting to give her parents’ history a chance to repeat itself. Jack was an unwanted child of drug addicts, who, thankfully, eventually found himself with a loving family. That’s why he doesn’t want to lose his only child, that sense of blood kinship. I could feel Anna’s pain. Her sense of abandonment by her own father and her reluctance to accept her stepmom. I could feel Jack’s desperation too as he tries to win his child over.
This story tackles quite a few issues. The issue of how a background of dysfunctional family life can steel a person’s heart against giving a marriage commitment. I also found the story extremely realistic In that Anna and Jack didn’t find any time to spend together, rebonding sexually, before deciding to get married It’s a sad but true fact, for couples who are madly in love, while the presence of a young child is the greatest joy, it is also the greatest sex prevention technique ever. I don’t know how I ever managed to have more kids after the first one arrived. I guess that babies have to sleep sometime. But that’s the real deal. Because life isn’t just the quest for the perfect sexual experience. It’s sponging a child’s fever – together. It’s cleaning up vomit (sounds revolting, but it’s perfectly true). It’s standing by each other, through good times and bad.
I also liked the comparison between child rearing in the developing and developed worlds. Living in India, I breastfed non-stop for ten years, between all my pregnancies, gave my kids hands on oil massages and slept beside them through the night. They call it ‘attachment parenting’ nowadays and think it’s a new technique. And even though my parenting partner (my husband) and I are free to do more or less whatever we want as the kids have grown, I sometimes yearn for that special closeness and intimacy which comes from rearing a child – or children – together.
This is a beautiful Harlequin imprint and I hope that it flourishes. Romance fiction today will be the richer for it.
Favorite Quote: ‘You can’t take a baby away from its mother.’