Baby, Be Mine

Baby Benefits
by Emily McKay
(Silh. Desire #1902, $4.75, PG-13) ISBN 0373-76902-4
It is hard to like the heroine when she has been pining for her boss for 9 years with no indications that he in any way reciprocates her feelings. It is hard to like the hero when he only starts seeing the heroine as a woman when she is helping him out of a jam with his newborn illegitimate child that he knew nothing about. 

Derek Messina is the CEO of Messina Diamonds. He has been the CEO since his father’s death when Derek was just 17. The story opens as he finds out that he is the father to a baby boy dropped on his doorstep by an ex-girlfriend. He knows nothing about babies and yet, is determined to raise him because his brother seems to have developed a liking for the baby and he is jealous. Derek has recently become engaged to the heiress to a jewelry store and yet, he doesn’t even think about contacting her. This heiress, however, would allow him to make a great business contract and advance the company’s bottom line. He has always struggled with the balance of his personal life and what the company needs. Marriage was treated in the same way. Now Derek has a baby to think about and he realizes he had a good life before his father died. He wants the same for his child. He decides that his able assistant will be the one to get him through this. 

The assistant is Raina Huffman. Raina wanted to be a chef and had even been accepted at a major culinary school. But when her mother had a stroke, she came home to help raise her four younger siblings. She took the job as Derek’s assistant because it paid well. In the nine years she has worked for him, he has expected her to work almost 24/7 and she has received little in return except a great salary that allowed her to help each of her siblings reach for their dreams. Raina has always been attracted to Derek, but hated that she was. 

Raina has finally decided that she is going to quit and go back to school. But Derek provokes her into an agreement that means she will spend her two-week notice teaching him how to be a father to this baby. Of course, Raina dresses differently than when she was at the office and now he starts to notice her sexually. There are complications, like Raina’s not sure she can trust him, his brother’s interference and of course, that sticky little problem of the fiancée. 

While this story was readable, there were a lot of frustrations for me as a reader. Others may not find it so but I really didn’t like Derek. He was cold and really did not treat Raina well. For that, I could never envision what she saw in him and why she was so in love with him. As for Derek’s falling in love so fast, it just felt very superficial.

Because I struggled with the two characters, it made it hard to find sympathy for their plight. Derek’s brother seemed fun and had a great sense of humor. I found myself wondering about his story, which seemed just as interesting. At the same time, Raina’s sister had a lot of sense and I wondered if she might have an interesting story to tell.

Baby Benefits never reached an acceptable level to me. It may appeal to some and there were some great scenes intermixed. I loved the scene when Raina and the fiancée first met. I enjoyed the scene when Derek tried to convince Raina to stay and they battled about through their negotiations.  It is for those and a few others that I can’t completely steer others away. But I do say it may ultimately disappoint you like it did me. 

--Shirley Lyons

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