Switched at the Altar

Dad in Demand by Metsy Hingle
(Silh. Desire #1241, $3.75 PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76241-0
Katie Malloy's biological clock is ticking...loudly. Unable to find Mr. Right, she decides to have a baby on her own. Sound familiar? I thought so too, but Metsy Hingle has taken a subject that's been done to death and injects it with new life.

Katie's insurance plan does not cover artificial insemination, so she's forced to do things the old-fashioned way. Uncertain which man of her acquaintance would make a good father, she brings a list of daddy candidates to her lifelong friend, Sean Fitzpatrick, who is a private investigator. She wants Sean to run a background check on each of the candidates and from there she will make her selection.

Sean would have been at the top of Katie's list, she's been crazy about him for as long as she can remember. When she was 13, she asked Sean to teach her how to French kiss. He complied, cutting his tongue on her braces in the process. But as they got older, they became more like brother and sister than sweethearts.

Sean thinks Katie's idea is crazy. But if he refuses to help her, he's afraid she will make a terrible mistake. As his investigation progresses, Sean's perception of Katie begins to evolve, until he sees her less as a sister and more as a desirable woman. The story enters uncomfortable territory here, and in less capable hands the change in their relationship could be unsettling.

The sparks really fly between these two, but I can't remember the last time a couple has been interrupted so often at the most inopportune moments. Phone calls, neighbors, relatives, old girlfriends. Everyone seems to conspire against the consummation of this relationship. This is as frustrating for the reader as it is for Sean and Katie.

My only other complaint, and it's one of which many romances are guilty, is that much of the conflict could easily be resolved if only the two protagonists would talk to one another. Misunderstandings abound and it's only the sharp, witty writing that saves this book from sinking.

In spite of these apprehensions, I found myself rooting for this pair to get together and the final scene was tender and satisfying. There's no question this is an author whose work I will seek out in the future.

--Karen Lynch

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