Table for Two

Unforgettable

 
The Boss’s Baby Bargain
by Karen Sandler
(Silh. Sp. Ed. # 1488, $4.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-24488-6
***
Author Karen Sandler shows a lot of promise with The Boss’s Baby Bargain. The story lags a bit and the characters prolonged angst didn’t work completely, but this is still a satisfying read.

Allie Dickenson has the hots for her boss, Lucas Taylor, for whom she works as an administrative assistant. Now she is forced by circumstances to ask for a loan to help place her father in a nursing home.

Meanwhile, Lucas desperately wants to adopt a child. He grew up in foster homes and is determined to offer one of those children chances he never had. However, he has hit a snag in his plans; no one will allow a single man to adopt.

The bargain is made. Lucas gives the money to Allie and she agrees to marry him for the time needed to adopt. A pre-nuptial agreement is signed; giving Allie the chance to earn two million dollars in what Lucas assures her will be a platonic relationship.

But the sexual attraction that has shown sparks suddenly ignites and Allie becomes pregnant. This cements her love for Lucas and she convinces herself she can make him love her. Lucas is tormented by his past, and knows he is unable to love. Who will win?

Allie is an uneven character throughout most of the book. She was raised by a domineering father and has worked to make herself an independent woman. Yet when confronted with strongly assertive Lucas, she fears she will act just like she did with her father. She is determined not to let that happen. So she vacillates between “giving in” and “fighting back”, creating a feeling that she really doesn’t know herself as much as she believes. I am not sure which way I liked her better.

Lucas is the conventional “tortured hero”. He is a self-made man and is strong, arrogant and seldom lets anyone see his vulnerability. Yet Allie not only sees it, she eases his discomfort and “heals” him. But I struggled with the volatile range of emotions from Lucas. It is his angst that just seems to drag on and on. Every time he seems to be ready to move on with his life, he shuts himself down and retreats behind “a wall” he keeps around his heart. By the time he finally allows Allie to tear it down, I was on the verge of not really caring.

Sanders writes a good love scene. The physical aspect of their marriage is often the only thing working right, and kept the story moving to the next crisis. Glimpses of Allie’s family were also well written, and important to the story. It is these relationships that helped Allie understand what she wanted out of her marriage and Lucas to see what he wanted to be a part of with her.

There is a nice little interlude between Lucas’ attorney and friend and his foster sister that begs for more details. This relationship seemed fraught with conflict and may make a good story in itself.

There seems to be a trend in categories lately when boss and assistant get together. The Boss’s Baby Bargain fits into this trend, but with the addition of lead characters really having to strive to overcome their past to get to a happy ending. If the latter is your cup of tea, this one will taste okay. If you prefer more lighthearted tales, pass it by.

--Shirley Lyons


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