Her Baby’s Father
by Katherine Garbera
(Sil. Desire # 1289, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76289-5
***
OK, I love a good steamy romance. Her Baby’s Father fits that category nicely. The plot and writing both have a few problems (“stubborn as a dog”? “heavy footed” instead of heavy-handed?), but the steam is definitely there.

Reese Howard is supposed to be a doing a fluff piece on sperm banks and the women who use them. He doesn’t expect the subject of his story, Serena MacFadden, to come driving up in a ’69 Mustang convertible and be the embodiment of his every teenage fantasy. The two of them quickly fulfill each other’s fantasies since they make a stop in her bedroom after a few interviews. Once there, a little accident with birth control makes sure that Serena doesn’t need to go to the sperm bank. It also sort of ruins Reese’s story. But what it does ensure is that Reese, permanent bachelor and man’s man, feels obliged to marry the mother of his future child.

Actually, despite that sexy if careless start, both Serena and Reese have a lot of redeeming qualities. Serena, despite an unfortunate marriage and miscarriage in her younger years, wants very much to be a good mother and has a lot of insight into how difficult Reese will turn out to be. Of course she would be just right for him -- she could provide the warmth and stability he secretly craves -- if he would let her.

But Reese, who has been abused as a child by his father, is the more troubled one of the two. He ignores his better qualities and is convinced he is incapable and unworthy of love although he very much wants to do the right thing by his child and is very attracted to Serena. Whenever he forgets, he has very visible scars on his back to remind him of just how bad his childhood was.

But after setting up two interesting characters, the plot stalls a bit. All right, the plot stalls a lot. Of course Serena is pregnant and the progress of her pregnancy provides some momentum, but not much else happens. Reese moves toward her and then backs away for eight months without much hope of change. Whenever he feels as if he is getting too close, he panics. She isn’t a total doormat through all this but what she does is repetitive, too. She threatens to move out and then changes her mind several times. Finally, Serena begins labor early after the two of them quarrel. The birth changes Reese’s perspective dramatically -- within a few pages he becomes the devoted husband and father Serena wants.

Oh well. There are some holes in the story. (Like whatever happened to that high blood pressure of his which was supposed to make him slow down?) But as I said before, the story was still steamy. Read it for the atmosphere and the excitement, not the plot. That’s what I did.

--Irene Williams


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