Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cry No More by Linda Howard *****

I knew. I had read the reviews and plot summaries. I knew when I picked it up it was a book that was going to make me cry.

I didn't really know, though. I had no idea that I was going to have to put the book down, take off my reading glasses and sob uncontrollably, three times. And in addition there were the number of times tears popped up and I just kept reading.

I guess I should have known. After all, the heroine Milla has spent 10 years looking for her son Justin who was ripped from her arms as a 6-week-old infant. She had nearly died in the attack. To be able to keep living, she tirelessly ran an agency that helped authorities find missing people. Her whole life revolved around finding her son. Her husband divorced her and went on to marry again, start a new family. Her siblings wouldn't talk to her. Surely this subject, no matter the outcome at the end of the book, was going to dredge up emotions.

The hero is Diaz, a bounty hunter of sorts – deadly, silent, trained, and a lone wolf. He and she are thrown together – by chance? By design? – during an attempt to find answers about Justin's kidnapping. Diaz is drawn to Milla by her unwillingness to give up, her strength, her determination. You wonder if he's motivated in some ways by his own mother's inability to love him, to care for him as a child, contrasted with Milla's doggedness. There is nothing that will stand in her way to find out what happened to Justin – she will not give up her search for any reason. And he finds he cannot give her up either, even when he betrays her in an attempt to help her get past it, and she shuts him out.

Sometimes when I write these reviews, I sketch out the plot and some of my thoughts about the characters and their motivations. Partly because of the suspense plot, I find I don't want to give away much of the story, even though this review is really just for me. It's the story of a woman profoundly and forever affected and changed by an incident – not an accident – that has left her bereft of everything she has known. She molds herself into something she is not – she is not a warrior; she is not the tough, brave person with killer instincts she tries to be, has to be to do her job. It's the story of her relationship with a man who is the warrior she is not, who fills in the missing parts she needs to go on. It's the story of how their relationship makes it possible for her to reach the goal she has set for herself. And how she deals with all of the ramifications and aftermath of reaching her goal. She hasn't made any plans for what comes after she finds out what happened to Justin.

There is truly a supremely happy ending, not exactly what you might want for a mother whose child was kidnapped, but one that works for all the characters, and left me feeling much better than I had 100 pages earlier in the book. 5 stars, although I don't know if I can read it again.

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