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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
It's interesting to select a book and find that you're getting what you expected and a bit more. It was the genre that drew me to What He Didn't See by Jacqueline Simon Gunn. As this book is classified as romance/suspense, I was curious about how much suspense would be in a romantic story based on the hope of renewing a relationship after nearly 2 decades of the lovers being apart. That's where What He Didn't See starts: Jacob is a psychologist who hosts a phone-in radio show. When his frequent weekly caller begins to sound very much like Jane, the only woman he ever truly loved but didn't marry, his own unhappiness in a loveless marriage takes over his psyche: he has to find Jane and, if this caller is his long lost love, then he needs to get out of his marriage and grab what might be his last chance at happiness. Herein lies both the romantic and one of the suspenseful angles: will Jacob succeed? Complicating his decision is his manipulative, rich and gay wife, Fiona, who doesn't love him but can't let him divorce her if she is to inherit the family fortune. But the bigger issue for Jacob is the one that caused him to lose Jane 19 years earlier: Jacob is too worried about being a good son and doing what his father expects of him i.e. good Catholics don't divorce.
It is this aspect of parental control, of children doing what is expected of them rather than what they want to do, that is the "more" I referred to in my opening sentence. What He Didn't See is very much an exploration of family relationships, of the expectations, the conflicts, the unreasonable demands parents put on their offspring, and how these demands can mess up people's lives in later years. Given the author's background - Jacqueline Simon Gunn is a clinical psychologist - her portrayal of the characters, their motivations, and the events in this story have an authentic base: Jacob, Jane, and Fiona are believable and what each does in this short, easy to read novel is realistic. Summing up, readers of suspenseful romance get more than expected from What He Didn't See. What readers may or may not themselves see coming is the ending.