The Late Bloomer’s Baby
by Kaitlyn Rice
(Harl. American #1085, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-75089-7
**
Implausible beginning followed by lying and deceit followed by love blossoming again makes this story a bit too much to swallow. The Late Bloomer’s Baby would have been better off left on the vine.

Callie Taylor is infertile. She is a late bloomer because she was not the prettiest of her sisters and was the shyest of the three. Now she has come out of her shell. She is also the mother of an 11-month-old baby that she conceived using a frozen embryo (of her husband’s sperm and someone else’s egg) a few months AFTER her husband, Ethan Taylor, left. Now she has to return to her hometown in Kansas and hide her baby Luke from him.

Callie has always been a bit of a wallflower and is a brilliant scientist. Ethan is a police officer and is currently in the helicopter squad in Wichita. Callie is in Denver, where they lived when they were married. She is returning to Kansas, taking a leave of absence, to help her sisters Isabel and Josie fix their home, which has been damaged in a flood. The complication is that Ethan and Callie never got a divorce and Ethan has no idea that Luke exists. Callie plans to hide the fact from him for fear that Ethan will take her baby once he realizes the deception. And she fears he will win a custody battle since he has the biological tie to Luke.

Ethan is dating a woman who is indicating that she wants to marry, but Ethan has not really told her he is not free. Everyone assumes they are divorced, but neither pursued it. Ethan comes to the Blooms’ home to help. He always liked Callie’s sisters and considers them friends. But he had lost touch and so was not at all suspicious when they tried to convince him that Isabel was the baby’s mother and Callie was just watching him because she loves kids so much.

Callie lies more often than Pinocchio in this story. First she hides the child, then she passes him off as Isabel’s and then she complicates things when she realizes she still loves Luke and doesn’t want him to marry anyone else. Of course, she won’t sign the divorce papers Ethan had prepared because they list no children…her conscience won’t let her lie. Ugh, just shoot me now.

Ethan is not a lot better. What man leaves and just forgets to send divorce papers? He realizes he doesn’t really love Lee Ann but he just strings her along. Then he gets hot and heavy for Callie, but still figures they will get divorced. While the author tries to convince us these are two intelligent people, neither act like they have a lick of sense.

The baby is cute and of course, ultimately brings them together. The sisters, on the one hand, preach to Callie to just come clean. But on the other hand, they help to perpetuate the myths.

It is hard to rally behind two people who have a relationship built on lies, deceit, and no trust. In fact, it appears that this is what they did when they were living together. They didn’t talk, they pouted and ultimately, Ethan just walked out. Then they pouted for almost two years before being reunited in this story.

The Late Bloomer’s Baby is one of those tales that is doomed from the start, as soon as the heroine decides to keep a big secret that is hard to hide from the hero. Spare me the melodrama.

--Shirley Lyons


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