The Real Father

The Redemption of Matthew Quinn

 
Everything But the Baby
by Kathleen O’Brien
(Harl. Super Rom. #1411. $5.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-71411-4
**
It has been two days since I read this story and I could hardly remember any details. That alone doesn’t say much but what does say a lot is the feeling of relief I remember when I finished Everything But the Baby.

Alison Cabot is left standing at the altar by Lincoln Gray. She soon learns that it is lucky she was stood up. Lincoln is married already to Tracy Travers. Of course, Tracy has been abandoned. Her brother Mark is out hunting down Lincoln, who stole most of Tracy’s money and then left her high and dry and heartbroken. He almost had him until he left Alison high and dry.

Alison is sure that the reason Lincoln hightailed it out of town is because she made him sign a pre-nuptial agreement at the behest of her deceased father’s attorney. All he would get is a few pieces of jewelry, some nice clothes and a car. Alison and Mark decide to join forces and find Lincoln where he first met Alison, at a resort in Florida. Now this resort just happens to be near Alison’s long lost family, the O’Haras. Alison was estranged from them after her mother passed away. They never liked her father and he was too stuffy to like the lively Irish family. Now Alison decides to reunite with them while she tries to convince Lincoln she will forget the pre-nup and marry him. The plan is that once they are married, Mark will call in the cops and Lincoln will be arrested for bigamy, thus saving the world from another nasty and conniving man.

There are a few kinks in the plan. One is that Alison and Mark start to feel something for each other. In fact, they almost think they could be in love. But Alison desperately wants children (she even has names for the first two) and Mark is sterile. Meanwhile Lincoln has already found himself another victim, Janelle, who is passing herself off as rich but is really a librarian on a lark of a vacation. But she loves Lincoln. Alison’s newly found cousin is also attracted to Janelle and finds it hard to believe that Alison wants to break her heart by having Lincoln arrested.

First, this story drags. I really didn’t care for Alison as she had no self-esteem and was constantly lamenting her childhood. The O’Haras are too good to be true, accepting her like a long lost daughter and never missing a beat. Mark was rather undefined. He was there, yet we never really got to know what made him tick. I didn’t find myself engaged in either the heroine or the hero. Lincoln was scum and yet, by the end, we were supposed to feel sympathetic to him. I couldn’t buy the transformation. Lastly, the whole plot line about the cousin and Janelle just seemed thrown in for good measure and to extend the tale.

In the past Kathleen O’Brien books I have read, her characters are often well defined and engaging. Not so with any of these. The most interesting was Janelle and she had the misfortune to fall in love with a man who had a wife and an ex-fiancée and was known to leave town with their money. There isn’t much to recommend in terms of intelligence there.

Everything But the Baby refers to the life Alison and Mark could have if they can get past all the barriers. The hard part for the reader is getting past the story.

--Shirley Lyons


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