Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Mommy Said Goodbye

Mommy Said Goodbye
Janice Kay Johnson
Contemporary Romance
Harlequin/April 1, 2004

From fictiondb ~

What would you think if one day your wife disappeared, and everyone believed you were responsible?

How would you feel if the only thing that kept you from being arrested was your child's insistence that his mommy told him she was leaving?

And what would you do if you suspected your son was lying?

One day Craig Lofgren came home to discover that his wife was gone. He and his kids have been living in a nightmare ever since. The police think he killed her; the neighbors do, too. The only bright spot is Robin McKinnon, the one person who believes in Craig. But until his wife is found he has nothing to offer her. Welcome to purgatory.


He's a man on his own, trying to raise his children.
Sometimes he gets things right. Sometimes he needs a little help...

Since I've only been reading books from the various Harlequin lines for a few years, I wouldn't say that I have an extensive knowledge of what the different lines have to offer. I was surprised at the darkness and intensity of Mommy Said Goodbye. It's a view of the fallout when a family suffers a devastating loss in addition to being the focus of prejudice, ridicule and scandal.

A single father raising his two children as best as he can amidst the small town gossip and rumors of what happened to his missing wife. That's what Craig Lofgren has been trying to do ever since his wife disappeared a year and a half ago. The police targeted Craig as a suspect in her disappearance, believe possible foul play, but without any evidence, no arrest was made. But that doesn't matter to many of the townsfolk. Craig is looked at with suspicion and treated as a social pirraha. He has put up with it for so long, it's become almost normal for him to distance himself from society. But it's his kids that he worries about the most and what the tragedy is doing to them.

Right off I felt sorry for Craig and his kids. They not only go through the aftereffects of losing a loved one but not knowing what happened keeps them wondering if they did something wrong. Craig is portrayed as a husband who loved his wife but didn't understand her. The kids have their own guilt to carry, wondering why mommy left them. Add in the attitude of the police and many of the neighbors and former friends, and life has been extremely difficult for the Lofgren family. I thought the author did a good job of showing the different ways this family was affected not only by their loss but also the community's response.

Robin is in a difficult position. She is a teacher and one of her students is Brett Lofgren. No surprise, Brett is a troubled student. His friends have deserted him and his temper is on a short fuse. Robin wants to help and reaches out to Brett. I liked how realistic Robin is when reaching out to Brett while still having doubts about his father and his role in his wife's disappearance. As she spends more time with Craig and his kids, her doubts go away and the attraction between her and Craig builds.

Even though it's been a year and a half since his wife's disappearance, Craig still has to deal with the police and one officer in particular. There is a set up for a spin off story (Revelations, 09/04) featuring the police officers. You can almost feel the defeat in Craig when dealing with the police. It's Robin that keeps his morale up and shows him that not everyone thinks the worst of him.

The romance develops slowly and softly. I wouldn't say it's the focal point of the story. Much of the focus is on the aftermath of the disappearance. I would have like to see the romance further along than it got. Craig doesn't feel like he has anything to offer Robin until his wife is found. Robin finds herself falling for Craig and his kids and wanting to know more about his wife and their relationship. I liked how they got to know each other, and their kids. The kids were not excluded in this relationship which I thought was important since both Craig and Robin are depicted as loving, caring parents.

I'd like to offer a shout out to Wendy aka Super Librarian, for reviewing and recommending Mommy Said Goodbye as well as the sequel, Revelations. Both, while lighter on the romance, are well written romantic suspense stories.

Rating: B+


  1. I really like Janice Kay Johnson. And the HSR line in general. Those deeper storylines tend to live there.

  2. Is there a reason Craig and the kids didn't move away? It's so sad how the community who is supposed to support you turns its back on you. Sigh :(

  3. I'm sold -- just bought it and Revelations for my Nook.

  4. Lori ~ I know I'll be reading more from Ms. Johnson. She reminds me of Mayberry, giving a lot of story in a shorter format.

    Nath ~ The police strongly advised them not to move. Craig tries to cooperate in every way, so he stayed put. I felt so bad for the kids, especially the son.

    Amy ~ I hope you like them both! Revelations was good too.

  5. This one sounds good and I've always wanted to try this author. Sounds like this might be a good one to start with :-)

  6. Kristie ~ You should giver her a try but you'll have to go with e-books unless you can find these at a UBS.

  7. JKJ has a backlist a mile long, and just from reading the select few books that I have, I can tell you she really excels at conflict. It's always "deep," not silly or superficial. I'm sure someone will blast me for suggesting this (*g*), but I would really LOVE to see what this author could do in the "women's fiction" arena. I could so see her writing one of those "book club-type" books.