Maternal Instinct, by Janice Kay Johnson

>> Monday, December 09, 2002

On Saturday I read Maternal Instinct, by Janice Kay Johnson. It was ok, a B.

Plot summary:

More than anything, Officer Nell Granstrom wants to stop history from repeating itself. Born to a 16 year old mother, Nell had her daughter, Kim, at the same age. Now Kim's 16 and has a serious boyfriend. But how much weight can Nell's words have? Years of living a careful life are over, because she's made another mistake. After witnessing a terrible crime, Nell turns to her new partner for comfort - which leads to a second unplanned pregnancy.

Despite his reputation, Hugh McLean will no doubt offer to do the right thing. But would marriage to a man she hardly knows (and isn't sure she likes) work? For Kim's sake, for the baby's sake, is Nell brave enough to try?

I bought this one in spite of the baby subject matter, and it's lucky I didn't see the awful cover before ordering it. In spite of this, I enjoyed the book.

First of all, the suspense subplot was fascinating... though not so much suspense, but an intriguing puzzle to solve, with no physical danger involved for our protagonists. And I was surprised to see I really liked Hugh; I thought it was very sweet how he worried about whether Nell was only with him for the baby, and I liked his relationship with Kim. Kim was a nice character: a teenager, but very mature. No childish brat here.

I never really warmed up to Nell. I thought she was STUPID!! She started losing me when she mentioned how she had never tried to get child support from Kim's father... "he wouldn't be there as a father, so what was the point?" (paraphrasing). Well, you idiot, the point is that you ended up sleeping in a car with your child one night, putting her in danger, when the guy should have been helping you out. I hate these proud, thick-headed heroines. I could have forgiven this if she had considered this a mistake, made because she was so young, but she never did.

I also hated how she behaved towards Hugh when they were married. The way she grabbed on to a casual comment made by Hugh's mother and started to blow hot and cold towards him didn't make any sense. But she did earn a bit of my respect because she was a good cop and because she was the one who took the risk and confessed her love first. Ok, I didn't completely hate her, then.

Nitpick: I though the way Nell thougth about her daughter having sex with Colin was seriously creepy. She started imagining Kim stripping down to her bikini, and how Colin would be so hot, and want to tear it off of her... they sounded more like the thoughts of a man in lust with Kim than of her mother. The way they talked about sex was refreshing, though, especially Nell offering to sign something to get her on birth control Much more sensible than this abstinence crap that's so in vogue right now in the US.

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