His Baby, Her Heart
by Sue Swift
(Silh. Romance #1539, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-19539-7
***
Some stories need to be read through squinted eyes. That's the only way that the plot can be palatable, the only way to overlook its disassociation from reality. In other words, if the scenario depicted in this story happened in real life, it'd be too weird to be believed.

At the reading of his late wife's will, Alex Chandler is surprised at her first request. His late wife Tamara wants Alex and his sister-in-law, Tammy's sister Dena, to cease their animosity. Alex is surprised to know that his wife knew of his dislike for Dena, a dislike he'd tried to hide. He finds Dena just too different, a far cry from his lovely, gracious wife.

The second request is even stranger. "I request that Dena act as surrogate mother and carry to term one of my embryos, fertilized by Alexander Chandler."

And that, my friends, is the gist of the story. Dena and Alex are going to acquiesce to Tamara's last wishes. Dena will be a surrogate mother and hand the baby over to Alex to raise as a single father. Yeah, and I'm the Queen of Sheba!

What gives the story its impetus is how Dena and Alex do overcome their animosity. As they spend time together, they develop an understanding, an appreciation of the other. This part is quite natural and believable but all the while I'm remembering their reason for being together. It seems to be a bizarre way to play matchmaker.

Sue Swift mentions at the back of the book that she's taken numerous liberties with the in vitro fertilization process. She also warns readers not to rely on the book for medical advice. I appreciate that warning, but would seriously question someone's gray matter if they do rely on a piece of fiction for advice. That's what makes fiction so much fun. We can read stories where the nearly impossible is made to look easy.

However, what isn't made to look easy and therefore isn't believable are the character's motivations, which are sketchy. We never sense that Alex really wants a child. It's not as though this is his only chance to be a father.

His Baby, Her Heart is such an apt title. I like the way it encompasses a wide spectrum of emotions regarding surrogate motherhood in only four words. There's no mistaking that this is anything but a baby book. In addition to carrying Alex's baby, Dena has twins from a louse of an ex-husband. So short people abound.

While this story didn't appeal to me personally, it doesn't mean that others won't be touched by its story line. If surrogate motherhood and a couple who have a lot of misconceptions to overcome sound interesting, then this story will likely hit the spot.

--Linda Mowery


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