I Take This Man-Again!

Separate Bedrooms . . .? by Carole Halston
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1385, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-24385-5
Neil Griffen has a tough life. Ever since his wife and child died he hasn’t had much to look forward to. Cara LaCroix, someone he’s known she was a kid, is one of the few people who make him enjoy life a little. So when she wants to make her grandmother happy, another woman he’s known and liked forever, he wants to help. Of course the problem is that only Cara’s marriage would make her family happy. At twenty nine and still single, she’s starting to feel like the odd woman out at home.

Cara gets engaged to someone. Neil thinks the guy is all right, although he is displeased about it. All right isn’t good enough for Cara. But Cara’s large Italian family, especially her dying grandmother, is overjoyed. When Cara breaks up with her fiancé because he won’t let her continue working for Neil, Cara is desolate. The guy soon proves he wasn’t worth a second thought. On the other hand, her mother and sisters have already spent money on their wedding clothes. Her grandmother looks happier than she has since first getting her cancer diagnosis. So what is Cara going to tell her family?

That she is marrying Neil, of course. They decide they can pretend to be engaged and even married for a while. After all, her grandmother has less than a year to live. They can manage that long. It will be like living with a sibling. Yeah. Right. Things heat up like crazy. Longing glances turn into fevered caresses and so on.

My big problem with this story is I like these two. They’re perfect for each other. They’ve obviously been dying for each other for ages. What takes them so long for it to dawn and the REAL problem to kick in? The real problem is: Neil doesn’t want to have a family again - specifically, more children. He knows Cara well enough to know she can’t imagine a family without children. Her whole family has carloads of children and children are the center of all the family get-togethers. Even more importantly, Cara adores children.

They argue about it. But before they can actually deal with things like - oh, maybe adults? - Cara discovers she’s pregnant. Neil has a fit. (Like he didn’t help create this pregnancy? This is the second story I’ve read recently where the couple have unprotected sex because they’re too wrapped in passion to think. Bad message there. THINK!) The story rushes to its conclusion before what should be the real conflict has a chance to work itself out.

The writing is good, the characters are charming and caring toward each other, but the emphasis of the story is in the wrong place. These guys didn’t need pages and pages to learn they love each other. Of course they do. Everyone knows it. They need to take time to figure out what to do once they realize love isn’t the only thing they should resolve before having a real marriage.

--Irene Williams

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