Once again I am surprised by a twist of plot that at first seems implausible but ends up a satisfying romantic tale. Her Baby’s Father is not a light-hearted romp; rather more of a melodramatic look at family relationships.
Jennifer Burns is pregnant with the baby of Drew Griffin following a one-night stand. This was not your sleazy pick-up in a bar one night stand. This was a reunion of sorts. Jennifer had dated Drew while in high school for a short period of time, during which no sexual intimacy occurred. Nine years later, Drew shows up on her doorstep in San Francisco, assures her he is unattached and seduces her for ole time’s sake. Having just recently lost her mother, Jennifer is in need of comfort and succumbs. It was not a particularly satisfying night, but no harm done. Until she discovers she is pregnant, and the phone number he gave her is no good.
Jennifer, now six months pregnant, returns to Portland, Oregon to find Drew so that he can have a part in her baby’s life. She grew up with a father who did not want her in his life, and she wants better for her child. She goes to Drew’s brother to find him.
Ross Griffin is a successful doctor, who also has some history with Jennifer. While Jennifer was dating Drew, they became friends. Ross, four years older than she, enjoyed their intellectual discussions, and never felt Jennifer was right for Drew. But she was only seventeen, and he was in college. So despite one brief kiss, and feelings they both had, nothing ever came of their friendship.
Ross is surprised to see Jennifer, but not surprised at Drew’s actions. Drew is not really the responsible type, and only Ross has really seen him for what he is…a spoiled, arrogant, selfish man. Ross is exactly the opposite. He is a hardworking, mature, caring man who strives for the best, and who takes full responsibility for his actions. Unable to father children himself, he is determined to have a part in Jennifer’s baby’s life…and maybe in the Jennifer’s, as well.
This is where the uncomfortable twist comes in. Drew is married, despite his statement to Jennifer, and his wife is pregnant, due just a few weeks prior to Jennifer. His wife, Lucy, is divorced from Ross. Lucy left Ross when she discovered he could not have children, and she married Drew, who she sees as the carefree, fun-loving attorney he presents to the world. Put anyone in mind of Peyton Place?
The strength of this story is in Jennifer and Ross and their mature handling of the many situations that arise. Jennifer is courageous and realistic. She doesn’t want money, she wants a sense of belonging for her child that she never had. She also quickly realizes that Drew will never be able to provide that. She is attracted to Ross and yet recognizes she cannot really have him due to all these family complications. It is her acknowledgment and willingness to confront the unusual nature of this conflict that makes the plot work. She is scared, but she has guts.
Ross, too, realizes how unique this situation is and decides to explore the possibilities. He fights his attraction while rationalizing his interest as being that of an uncle. But he, too, is an intelligent adult and doesn’t hide from the situation. He is almost too good to be true. Thankfully for the story, Ross also has his faults and hence he is depicted as a character with depth and rounding.
Drew is a character who draws one’s pity. There are reasons given for the man he has become, but in the end, he is just not one who garners compassion. Lucy is a misguided woman for whom I did feel sympathy. She just made wrong choices in her quest for happiness, but the hope is there that she will survive. The men’s parents are sketchily portrayed and are peripheral to the story.
Her Baby’s Father is an intriguing melodrama which ultimately satisfies, yet has its dark sides too. For a change of pace and a look at twisted relationships, this tale fits the bill.