Undeniable

 
The Billionaire and the Bassinet
Suzanne McMinn
(Silh. Romance #1384, $3.50, G) ISBN 0-3731-9384-X
**
Texas businessman Garrett Blakemore appears on the doorstep of Lanie Blakemore's struggling bed and breakfast wanting an answer to his question: Is his deceased cousin Ben the father of the child Lanie is carrying?

Garrett's crusty Uncle Walter, holed up in the family business in Austin, wants Lanie to submit her child's blood for genetic testing -- he's certain that his son's widow, who became pregnant the same month her husband died, is a scam artist bent on bilking the Blakemores. Garrett, who was raised by his uncle, is also convinced that the young woman is nothing but a gold-digger -- just like his ex-wife.

Lanie, however, has contacted the Blakemores for nothing more than to ensure her child gets to know her husband's family. She horrified when she discovers that the Blakemore's think she's after money -- and more disgusted when Garrett asks her for blood tests.

Through a series of third-trimester tribulations (fainting, false labor, and the Grand Entrance), Garrett gets to know Lanie, a shy, gentle innkeeper who works hard and seems not to care about the Blakemore's millions. He's there at her side when she finally gives birth to a son, Dalton, and Garrett finds his heart softening to ideas he'd given up on years before: family, connection, trust, and love. Lanie, meanwhile, admits that the happiness in her marriage to Ben didn't last long. She yearns for someone who will help her love and care for Dalton -- and that someone seems to be hard-hearted Garrett.

The Billionaire and the Bassinet didn't keep me up past bedtime. The characters were not very memorable (a few hours later, I can't remember a distinguishing feature about Garrett -- the guy's supposed to be a billionaire, but beyond the connection to his family business, he doesn't give off any aura of wealth or power). And in a weird moment at the end of the novel, Lanie, makes a decision that doesn't quite sit right with everything else she's done throughout the story. The decision merely seemed a convenient way to wrap up loose ends.

With a short novel, there's not a lot of room to create dazzling prose, and McMinn's writing in general is clean and spare, exactly what it should be for a short contemporary. There were a couple places, however, where the dialogue clunked. For example:

"Dalton's going to be getting sleepy soon, I think," she said. "Do you want to rock him upstairs in his room before you leave?"
"Thanks. Yes."
"Okay. Your things will be dry in a little while."
"This has been nice," he commented after a few minutes.

The Billionaire and the Bassinet may appeal to readers who like a fast, sweet read and love baby books, but otherwise, you might want to choose another book for your nightstand.

--Diana Burrell


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