The Baby Due Date

 
Daddy’s Little Memento
by Teresa Carpenter
(Silh. Romance #1716, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-19716-2
***
Daddy’s Little Memento is pure formula and yet, an acceptable read. Alex Sullivan is the father of a little boy named Gabe. He just didn’t know he had fathered the boy during a one night stand in the Caribbean. Gabe’s mother has died and her sister, Samantha Dell has the nine month old. She has moved to Texas and is now ready to share the news with Alex.

There is a lot of baggage from the past which is governing the behaviors of the two adults. Alex was married and firmly stated he did not want children. His wife got pregnant anyway. Alex then realized he wanted the child, but the child was born prematurely due to the mother’s unhealthy practices (such as smoking and refusing to quit work when the doctor ordered). This destroyed his marriage and left Alex feeling that he never wanted to love anyone again because the loss hurt too much. Hence, he decides to keep Gabe, but not grow too attached to him. He sues Samantha for custody.

Samantha is astounded when Alex actually says he wants to raise Gabe. Her experience is that men leave as soon as children are involved. Her father left when she was a baby and her mother never remarried, saying he was the love of her life and she could never find anyone else to love. When Samantha’s mother died when she was 18, she raised her younger sister. Samantha’s fiancé at the time left because he said he was too young to help raise a 12-year-old. Then Samantha accepted responsibility for Gabe and the pattern repeated itself, as her boyfriend of two years walked. Samantha is now certain that men do not take responsibility for children. Her hope was that Alex would want to have a relationship with Gabe, but not that he would take him away from her.

Alex then comes up with the solution that they marry (after all he is sexually attracted to Samantha) and this way everyone can have what they want. He gets the kid and the wife to have sex with, and at the same time, maintain some distance so he doesn’t get emotionally attached. Sam gets to keep Gabe. And Gabe has a family.

The resolution of this is pretty predictable. What makes this work is the sincerity of the characters as they prattle on about their feelings. Everyone believes it so the author makes it acceptable. If you can just accept it, the pace of the story is good, and the interactions between the two adults are actually readable. Gabe and his emotional outbursts are about the only thing that is not predictable about the story – and his behavior (even for a baby) is pretty incredible. He screams all night, goes on “hunger strikes” and generally causes the impetus for the two to work out their problems.

Daddy’s Little Memento is not groundbreaking fiction. It is not something you will remember long after you read it. But it is an acceptable category romance that allows you to escape for a few hours.

--Shirley Lyons


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