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A Marriage to Fight For

Partners in Parenthood
by Raina Lynn
(Silh. Int. Mom. #869, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-07869-2
Raina Lynn's debut novel, A Marriage to Fight For was not your usual category romance. Dealing as it did with the efforts of a divorced couple to reestablish a relationship with each other and with their teenage son, in the face of personal tragedy, it had a richness and uniqueness that suggested that Lynn would have a distinguished career as a romance novelist.

Lynn's second book does not exhibit the same originality. Indeed, Partners in Parenthood is pretty standard fair: wounded man and wounded woman seek solace in a night of surprisingly good sex; spontaneity leads to pregnancy; pregnancy leads to marriage; marriage leads to true love. But Lynn shows that her first book was no fluke. She manages to infuse life into this tired old plot and the result is a most enjoyable read.

Mason Bradshaw has always had difficulties with personal relationships. His cold and remote parents had left him with no gift for intimacy. When he falls in love with the beautiful Karen, he falls hard. So when, on arriving home early from a convention, he discovers his wife in bed with a boy toy, he is devastated. He abandons his wife and leaves the rat race of Los Angeles to purchase a struggling newspaper in a small town in Washington.

Jill Mathesin is just recovering from a divorce which has sapped her self-confidence in her own lovableness. As the invaluable bookkeeper of the Stafford Review-Journal, she comes to respect her new boss and she knows that he is suffering deeply. She tries to get him to come out of his shell, to talk about his pain. She visits him on the night his divorce becomes final to offer sympathy and ends up offering something else. But Mason is not ready for a real relationship. And when Jill turns up pregnant, she refuses to tell Mason and quits the newspaper. She knows Mason will insist on doing the noble thing and she can't bear being married to another man who really doesn't love her.

Fate brings Mason and Jill together again and Mason acts just as Jill predicted. He insists on their marrying and becoming a true father and the rest is well, predictable.

But despite this, Lynn creates lively and likable characters, gives them (and especially Jill) witty dialogue, and makes the reader care about Mason and Jill. Thus, I can recommend Partners in Parenthood to readers who like "marriage of convenience thanks to baby" books and who wants to see how a talented writer can make this plot come alive.

--Jean Mason

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