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Laying His Claim: The Protectors    by Beverly Barton order for
Laying His Claim
by Beverly Barton
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

It has been eleven years since Kate Malone left Prospect, Alabama. She settled in Atlanta, serving on the police force for a while, then transferring to a private investigation firm, the Dundee Agency. Her work has provided Kate with resources to continue the search for her kidnapped daughter, Mary Kate.

Returning to Prospect, Kate visits ex-husband Trent Winston to ask for his assistance in the investigation. Kate has always believed their daughter to be alive, but Trent convinced himself that Mary Kate was dead. Seeing each other after all these years arouses passionate feelings. 'After years of being apart, of now having very little in common, they still shared one of the most important links any two people can share. A child. And in their case, a missing child.' Neither has remarried, though Trent has an almost fiancée named Molly, a widow with two children. FBI Agent Dante Moran is in charge of the discovery that three babies were kidnapped within the southeast Atlanta area, in the same timeframe as two-month old Mary Kate's disappearance. The parents of the adopted, now twelve-year old girls, have reluctantly agreed to meet with the biological parents. There are four sets of biological parents, but only three girls. Moran's staff gathers DNA samples. Will one of the girls match DNA with Kate and Trent?

Beverly Barton builds suspense into her story, which is driven by the intensity of Kate's and Trent's passionate reunion, after years of separation. The story's kidnapping premise is consistently at the forefront, although it could be more dramatically developed. Most secondary cast members remain in the background, and would add a depth of interest, with more exposure in the story. Overall, Barton's Laying His Claim is a light, enjoyable read for romance suspense lovers.

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