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And Babies Make Ten
by Lisa Bingham
(Harl. Amer. #784, $3.99, G) ISBN 0-373-16784-9
****
If you don't like baby books, don't bother with this one. The title, the cover and the back blurb warn you that there are lots, and I do mean lots, of babies in this story.

Thirty-five-year-old Casey Fairchild is ready to be a mother. An infection left her incapable of getting pregnant in the conventional way. Her best friend, a fertility doctor, knows her stuff. Casey gets pregnant . . . with twins. Following her friend's advice, she relocates from the high pressures of New York to the bucolic joy of Kansas. She'll be helping a minister who's organizing support groups.

Casey might have been expecting twins, but she certainly wasn't expecting a hunk for a boss. Pastor Stephen Dubois is a single, desirable, attractive man. Stephen finds Casey equally attractive. Her plain spoken manner appeals to him. She's also got a wisecracking sense of humor that keeps him grinning.

Casey is reluctant to tell Stephen of her pregnancy. No, she's more than reluctant; she's scared. What will his reaction be? She's really afraid that he'll lose interest in her. What throws a monkey wrench into both their plans is the arrival of five toddler girls. It's sorta complicated but Stephen's foster sister has sent her stepchildren to Stephen, knowing that he'll take good care of them.

Stephen is now the guardian of quintuplets, soon to be their adopted father. Casey is pregnant with twins. Suddenly she's really concerned that Stephen might not want to become involved with her. I'd say that's a reasonable worry.

And Babies Make Ten reminds me of older category novels, ones written when realism could be gently ignored. The five toddlers arrive via a delivery man, after they'd been brought to the states by missionaries. That didn't ring true. Nobody's going to hand over five kids to Speedy Delivery.

Next, out of nowhere came a plot line that was silly and unnecessary. Casey decides to protect herself. She'll let Stephen see the real her. She'll gross him out so that he won't be interested. Here's how she does it. She flosses in public, complains about her mother's sciatica and even...horrors...belches in public. Luckily this dumb stuff didn't last very long.

In a realistic scene, Stephen is stunned when he learns about Casey's pregnancy. And why shouldn't he be? Here's a man who's gone from being single to caring for five toddlers. With Casey's news, his world tilts even more.

Okay, so this story wasn't terribly realitic and was high on the Pollyanna scale. Parts of it are silly. Parts of it are implausible. My pragmatic side knows that this story is a saccharine overload. My emotional side, however, won the day. I really liked this book Yes, overall it's a sweet, self-effacing 'life in a gentler way' story. Sometimes those tender, rose-colored tales are just what we need.

--Linda Mowery


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