His Expectant Neighbor
by Susan Meier
(Silh. Romance #1468, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-19468-4
***
Gwen Parker is alone, pregnant and Ben Crowe’s new tenant. Because of that, Ben feels he should stop by and check on her. He isn’t happy about the idea and he disapproves of a woman who would leave her husband when she knows a child is coming, but he does what he feels he has to do. And then he and Gwen argue. He realizes that he was wrong about his assumptions over why she is alone and he needs to apologize. He goes back to her place. Soon he and his tagalong young buddy, Nathan, are spending a lot of time with Gwen.

Gwen has already had a lesson on how unreliable men can be and how a woman can fool herself into thinking her relationship is fine when it isn’t. She doesn’t need or want to start down that path again, especially when she knows her hormones are going crazy with her pregnancy. Ben Crowe may be sexy, but he’s also grumpy and dictatorial. She figures she should have him stay away - but then there’s cute little Nathan who want to hang out with her and Ben. Besides she is lonely. Sometimes. Somehow she finds herself spending a lot of time with the two of them.

Ben helps a lot of people out in the small town he lives in, but Gwen doesn’t want charity. Before long she is making him feel welcome with her cooking and he starts to feel like they are friends. She may be a friend he also thinks is sexy, but she is just a friend. Then Gwen starts creating complications. She says Nathan is getting too attached to both of them. Ben figures that means she just doesn’t want to deal with Nathan until Nathan starts getting into trouble without the two of them around. She tells Ben she loves him. Ben decides that it hormones. He figures out she comes from money, just like the last woman he was interested in and who dumped him. That confirms that he really doesn’t want to need her. He certainly doesn’t want to love her.

This was a well-written, thoughtful book. The characters are likable. Their motivations make sense. The only problem is one I think is sort of unusual. They think too much. They know themselves and each other too well. Ben has a blind spot about his real feelings for Gwen, but Gwen figures out his problem accurately and efficiently. She’d make a fortune as a therapist. I wish I knew myself as well as these folks do and that I was as willing to tell other people why I’m doing what I do.

It’s hard to believe it takes Gwen and Ben all of 178 pages to come to the conclusion they’re perfect for each other and meant to be a family. For once I’d like a little less insight into why the characters do what they do and a little more watching them wrestling with false ideas about themselves and their potential mate. Their ability makes me too envious.

--Irene Williams


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