A Man Worth Keeping

Molly O'Keefe
April 2008, Series Romance
Harl Superromance #1486, $5.50, 256 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373714866

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Warm

In A Man Worth Keeping, Molly O’Keefe creates a solid story of a woman in peril and the man who helps her find her inner strength. I adore damsels in distress, and heroes to the rescue are among my favorite premises. This one might not be perfect, but the book is certainly worth the time spent reading it.

Delia Dupuis is a woman on the run from her dangerous ex-husband with their daughter, whom he is determined to keep. Her husband works in law enforcement, so going to the authorities is out of the question. Instead, she plans to keep moving until his crimes catch up with him. It’s imperative for her life and her daughter’s well being that she stay out of his reach until then and she’s found the perfect vehicle for doing so - a job at an inn as the new massage therapist.

Max Mitchell is a former cop with the emotional scars to prove it. He left the force two years earlier following a horrific event, and to forget his former life and the guilt he carries, he works as the handyman at his brother’s inn. However, his brother’s latest hire brings back old memories and feelings he’s suppressed for too long.

From the moment Max meets Delia and her daughter, he knows there is more to their story than what he’s told. He’s recognizes the signs of fear and abuse and wants Delia to know she’s safe. She believes he’s one of the good guys, but doesn’t know if she should trust her instincts, as they’ve led her astray before. She also senses that he’s hiding something from his past. Still, despite the obstacles, the two quickly grow close and secrets are revealed as they struggle with her daughter’s needs, his family, and the threat looming over them.

The characters O’Keefe creates are troubled, yet strong. Max is a protector by nature, though he’s not perfect. Delia wants to keep her child safe and happy, but comes to realize that her daughter’s happiness is dependent upon her own. The daughter, in my opinion (though I don’t know many eight-year-olds), is portrayed quite realistically as rebellious, scared, and certainly not a walk in the park. The problem here is that there are so many other characters and so many emotional problems, I can’t see how the couple found the time or energy to fall in love – or even become infatuated for that matter. I also wanted them to reveal their secrets earlier, as I didn’t see the point of continuing to keep them.

A Man Worth Keeping is certainly worth the read and a nice way to spend the afternoon. Though flawed, I found the story moving and the characters sympathetic, which were both enough to overshadow my quibbles.

-- Heather Brooks

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