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Book CoverStevie‘s review of Unexpected by Jenny Frame
Contemporary Lesbian Romance published by Bold Strokes Books 15 Aug 17

I do like to see well-worn tropes given a new twist, in this case the Secret Baby story. However, this time it’s not so much a secret baby (or secret baby-to-be and secret preteen) as a secret mother that’s the main crux of the issue.

Dale McGuire always knew that donating her eggs to a fertility clinic meant that one day the resulting children might contact her; she just didn’t expect the event to take place until one or other of them reached adulthood. So, when a ten-year-old boy shows up at one of the garages she runs, claiming to be her son, she is understandably taken aback. The lad turns out to be a computer genius, who has hacked into the database of the clinic in order to find his biological parents and enlist their help; his mother is pregnant with his full sibling, but complications are preventing her from working and their house is rapidly falling into a worse state of disrepair than it was in when they first moved there.

Rebecca Harper is a freelance photographer, who is unable to travel at the moment and so is at risk of losing the majority of her client base. After her father was convicted of massive prescription drug fraud and involvement in organised crime, she was briefly a media sensation, thanks to a tabloid expose by an ex-girlfriend. Now that both her parents are dead, she lives a reclusive life under a new name with her gifted son, their routine broken by a few local friends who pop in from time to time. Understandably, she’s nervous of relationships – and of interactions with strangers of any kind – and is less than pleased when Dale shows up to drop off their son.

Dale is struck by Rebecca, who is very unlike the women she usually dates, and decides to help out her new friends by making some basic repairs around the house and to Rebecca’s car, so that they can resume a more normal life. Slowly, the two women become close, and Dale starts to relish being part of a proper family; however, they both have vindictive exes, who want to reveal Rebecca’s identity to the world once again.

While I loved the premise of this book, a little of the characterisation fell a bit flat for me. The main characters were rather too angsty for my tastes, and the ex-girlfriends were a little over the top. A shame, also, since I’ve enjoyed some of the author’s previous books.

Stevies CatGrade: C


Self-made business owner Dale McGuire has always enjoyed two things in life: women and fast cars. Now in her mid thirties, she’s restless and can’t work out why. Then one day a ten-year-old boy turns up, claiming to be her son, and her simple ordered world turns upside down.

Rebecca Harper bears the emotional scars of her father’s crimes, and now she has two rules: never let anyone get too close, and never admit weakness. Thanks to an anonymous egg donor, infertility didn’t stop her from having her son Jake. Now pregnant for a second time, she’s horrified when Jake brings home the woman he believes is his other mother.

When distrust turns to understanding and passion, can Dale and Rebecca, two women bound by fate, make a family neither expected?

Read an excerpt.