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Book CoverLynneC’s review of One-Night Love Child by Anne McAllister
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Presents 1 Mar 08

I usually enjoy McAllister’s books enormously, but this one dragged a little for me. The conflicts weren’t strong enough and one part of the resolution seemed a little lame and the story didn’t have enough of a focus.

The hero, Flynn, was probably loosely based on the son of Erroll Flynn, who was a war correspondent/photojournalist killed in action. Fortunately, this Flynn wasn’t killed in action. Instead, he inherited his father’s Irish title, the Earl of Dunmore, and a run-down castle, fortunately with a broken entail, so the castle could be sold.

Flynn didn’t know about his child, sired six years before the story starts, because he is busy working as a journalist in war zones. When the letter telling him of the event finally arrives, he is earl and trying to restore the family fortunes. As soon as he discovers he has a son, Flynn arrives at Sara’s home. By the way, whoever edited this book got titles wrong. When you’re referring to a specific title, it’s the Earl of Dunmore (with capital letters). When you refer to a non specific one, it’s earl, as in “The earl will see you now,” as opposed to “The Earl of Dunmore will see you now.” It works the same way as any other title, like doctor or professor does. And that’s the American usage. In British usage, Earl is always capitalised.

Sara has issues. She and Flynn fell in love over the course of three days and he left her. So my problems begin here. However busy he is, these days he could have kept in touch. The complex equipment available on the battlefield would definitely give him the chance to send a note to the woman he loves, and surely his email address would remain constant? So – five years? No way.

Flynn’s journalist background is barely sketched in, and apart from vague references to “Africa” and so on, there’s no real details. He’s been shot, and one shooting has given him a limp, but it’s far more likely that he’d be blown up, these days. And he doesn’t seem scarred by what he’s seen, or the people he’s known and lost. He just takes up the earldom instead, as an unwelcome responsibility. Flynn has no centre, he doesn’t really know what he wants, apart from Sara and his son.

And Flynn has inherited an earldom and a run down castle. It takes Sara to tell him how to turn it around and make a profit from it. These days, it’s not a matter of going to a bank with a business plan. Banks will provide financial advisors, and stately homes are good sources of income. The old-fashioned concept of debt and how to escape it didn’t win true, especially when they got to see a local bank manager – in the UK and Ireland, they don’t exist any more. Not in the old sense of the word. It’s all corporate. Despite the token presence of laptops, nobody seemed to use them properly, least of all Flynn.

And the earldom. There is one improbability towards the end, which I’ll put in white type, for those of you who don’t like any kind of spoiler. Mouse over the following to see it.

Flynn “resigns” the earldom, or says he will in order to keep Sara. It’s possible under United Kingdom law, but it’s an extremely complicated and drawn-out process. You can’t just say it and until 1961, a peer was a peer for life. Plus, this is United Kingdom law, and Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom.

Because, I think, of the lack of focus, the story dragged in the middle, and had I not decided to review this book, I might have put it down. The characters didn’t hold me enough, and the simplicity of the Irish earldom, when in fact there is officially no such thing and the whole idea of Irish peerage is immensely complex and vitriolic, distracted me. I’d rather have left the peerage out of this, and just had Flynn inherit the castle, which was the point of the whole exercise. So a disappointing grade from me for this one. However, as always, YMMV.

LynneCs icon Grade: C


It was one night as hot and passionate as only young love can be. But they left it at that. Flynn had the world to conquer–alone. Only three months later, Sara’s life changed: she discovered she was expecting Flynn’s baby. Now Flynn has taken his rightful place as the Irish Earl of Dunmorey. But once he discovers that he also has an heir, his strategy is simple: claim his love child. He wants his son, and he wants Sara, too…as his bride.

Read an excerpt.