The Cowboy's Ideal Wife

The Pregnancy Project

The Baby Deal
by Victoria Pade
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1742, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0373-24742-7
The second of the "Family Business" series, this story revolves around second son Andrew Hanson. The Baby Deal is predictable with little action going on, causing it to feel like a continual rehashing of the same issues over and over interrupted by some lengthy love making scenes filled with thinking rather than acting.

Andrew is introduced in The Baby Deal as a spoiled playboy who has never worked a day in his life and has been living off the family finances for years, despite his age (late twenties) and the fact that his father just died. He is now in Tahiti and falls for a lovely young woman he knows only as Delia, who is vacationing with her family. He is attracted, gets invited to join their last day of snorkeling and ends up on the beach seducing her and making love all night. She leaves and he continues what turns into a three month vacation, which ends only when his brother Jack and Uncle David call him to Chicago so they can read his father’s will.

Upon his return he is told he must join the family business and help resurrect the Hanson Media Group from near bankruptcy if he wants the money to keep flowing. He is told he will use his talents for charming and networking as advertising sales manager and he is expected to be a clean and moral member of the community to do it. Still reeling from that announcement, he is forced to attend a business dinner with a potential new customer, Meals Like Mom.

The owner of said company just happens to be Delia McCray, the Delia from Tahiti. She is equally surprised to see him. And when her sister inadvertently announces to the table that Delia is pregnant, Andrew’s world falls even more in disarray. Delia is the oldest daughter of a woman named Peaches, who abhorred marriage and demanded that she be surrounded by “boy-toys” to enhance her imagined image as a starlet on the rise. Her three children were all surprises and their fathers are unknown (or irresponsible) leaving the group of children with unresolved feelings. Delia has already decided that she will raise her child on her own and was not interested in even looking for the man who fathered her child.

The rest of the tale follows prescribed lines. They marry “for the baby” despite misgivings, they have great sex (during which the author details their thoughts rather than their feelings), and in one week each decide they have fallen in love. Then there is a misunderstanding and they must figure out what to do. Formula, formula, formula.

Andrew is a 28-year-old who has never grown up. While he does mature during the story, he is not always likable. The only thing he has going for him is a good body and some charm. Delia is 37 and sees Andrew’s age as a major stumbling block. Her mantra gets old fast and there is not much more to her. She is written without much depth, despite owning her own business and helping to raise her siblings.

There is a subplot about the Hanson business involving Andrew’s stepmother that apparently was introduced in the first book but never feels fully developed. And there is the set-up for the next book about his brother Evan that was thrown in for appearances. Neither storyline engaged me.

The Baby Deal is a story that is easy to read and much more easily forgotten, full of predictable actions and cookie-cutter characters. Category romances can be so much better. My recommendation is spend your afternoon reading something else.

--Shirley Lyons

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