For the Baby’s Sake
by Sherry Lewis
(Harl. SR #883, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-70883-1
Being a somewhat inconsistent reader of category romances, I am not sure whether the “Marriage of Inconvenience” subtitle on this book’s cover reflects a new or an old themed series. I do know that I am a sucker for “marriage of convenience” stories, whether historical or contemporary. Hence my purchase of this book despite the title and the adorable toddler pictured. I was also struck by Lewis’ explanation for her plot in the author’s note:

I found myself thinking about the idea of marrying a stranger and wondering what would possibly compel a woman in today’s society to take such a drastic step....I could come up with only one reason I’d personally take such a step, and that was if someone was going to take away my child. If that threat were hanging over me, and if I appeared to have no legal recourse, I might do anything.

Intrigued, I bought For the Baby’s Sake and discovered a story that I enjoyed, despite a somewhat formulistic conflict at the end that didn’t completely work for me.

Boston corporate lawyer Mark Taylor is on the fast track to a partnership. He has had no time for a personal life since his significant other, Marianne Holt, disappeared without a word three years earlier. When he unexpectedly runs into Marianne, he understandably demands to know why she left. With some reluctance, Marianne informs him that she was pregnant, but refused to tell him because she knew he would insist on getting married and that family life would interfere with her own legal career. Mark discovers that Marianne turned their son over to her second cousin, Dionne Black who lives in Boise, Idaho.

Family matters a great deal to Mark, so he heads off to Boise to reclaim his son. Dionne has raised two-year-old Jared since his birth. For over a year, she has been a single mom because her husband died in an auto accident. Jared is her life. When Mark appears on the scene, she discovers that there is every possibility that she will lose custody. Marianne never finalized the adoption and the fact that Mark, as the father, neither knew about his son nor consented to giving up custody, puts the law on his side.

Mark very much wants his son, but he also comes to understand that Dionne is an excellent mother and that tearing Jared away from her may well leave scars. Since he has no plans to marry and since Dionne believes she has buried her heart with her husband, Mark proposes that they marry “for the baby’s sake.” Thus Lewis creates a plausible modern marriage of convenience story .

Lewis’ description of their period of adjustment is nicely drawn. They are essentially strangers thrust together by unusual circumstances. Their backgrounds and lives are very different. Mark is a successful lawyer from a large and loving friendly. Dionne’s father disappeared when she was a child and she was raised by her hardworking mother, with almost no family. They must learn to adjust to each other and they must pretend -- for the sake of Mark’s family -- that theirs is a love match.

The two had planned on a platonic relationship, but soon both of them find that they are unexpectedly attracted to each other. Yet, given the conditions under which they wed, neither knows how to move the relationship to the next level. Lewis portrays the inevitable problems that Max and Dionne face very well. These are two nice people who both love “their” son, but who don’t quite know how to handle their growing feelings for each other.

The only problem I had with For the Baby’s Sake came at the end when Lewis introduces the dreaded “big misunderstanding.” She doesn’t overdo it, and perhaps Dionne’s reaction is not completely inexplicable, but it’s one of those situations where a bit of communication would have saved a lot of trouble.

Still, as a fan of marriage of convenience stories, I have to admit that this was a basically enjoyable tale. If you too like this particular plot, you may well enjoy For the Baby’s Sake.

--Jean Mason

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