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A Father for Her Baby
by Celeste Hamilton
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1237, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-24237-9
***
The third time may be a charm for Ashley Grant and Jarrett McMullen. Their first engagement ended as they listened to the advice of Ashley's sister-in-law, telling them that they were too young to marry. Their second engagement ended as Jarrett decided that they needed to wait for him to finish his plastic surgery residency. Ashley, feeling betrayed, flew into a rage, stormed out and hasn't been heard from for three years.

On an odd quirk of fate, Jarrett is attending a medical conference in Canada. Watching the local news, he sees a report about a young woman who's suffering from amnesia. It's Ashley. As he walks into her hospital room, she utters his name. She has no idea how she knows this man or why she knows his name, but she trusts him.

When Ashley discovers that she hasn't seen Jarrett in three years, one question is answered. No, he's not the father of her unborn baby.

Jarrett accompanies her back to Amarillo, where she's reunited with her family. Remembering bits and pieces, but never the whole picture, she does know that her older brother Gray is a control freak and that she's rebelled in the past. Gray and Kathryn's story is Marry Me in Amarillo (SSE1091).

Jarrett feels that his life is now on its correct path. His beloved Ashley is back. He wants to waste no time in reestablishing their relationship. What he forgets to take into account is Ashley's need for independence, her stubborn streak. She agrees to come to Dallas with him and even moves in with him, but balks at a final commitment.

What started out as a four-heart compelling read degenerated into a three-heart lackadaisical book. Ashley is an on-again, off-again kind of heroine. She cares for Jarrett but seems to cherish her independence for far too long in the book. What most of us might see as care and concern from our partner appears to Ashley as usurping her rights. Her constant protests became tedious. And then she became tedious.

Jarrett is a wonderful hero. He's kind, solicitous and realizes that Ashley fills up a space in him, a space that he didn't even know was empty. Remember the doctor/nurse books that were so popular years ago? I loved them, and Jarrett is even better. He's sensitive to Ashley's needs, but her continuous rebuffs made me wonder if her amnesia wasn't leading to premature stupidity.

Let's talk amnesia. It seems to be as prevalent these days as secret babies and cowboys. I was pleased that neither lead character fixated on the missing father. There was none of the hand wringing and moaning, "What if I'm married? What if I still love him?" The poor absent daddy is virtually swept under the rug. And the resolution is weak, as though it was thrown in for a convenient wrap up.

I really enjoyed A Father for Her Baby until Ashley began to resent everything that Jarrett tried to do. The more snippy and ungrateful she became, the more I wanted to distance myself. Jarrett is what fantasy heroes are made of. He loves her, loves her unborn baby and wants to live the rest of his life with her. Too bad it took her most of the book to accept him.

--Linda Mowery


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