Baby Our Baby

 
Whose Baby Is This?
by Patricia Thayer
(Silh. Sp. Ed.#1335, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-24335-9
**
Tara McNeal shows up in Dr. Matt Landersí office for a surprise announcement that she strongly suspects will be unwelcome. She has a baby for the doctor to see. The baby isnít there because she is unhealthy -- the baby is his daughter. Taraís sister had been abandoned by Dr. Landers and died after childbirth. She made Tara promise to let the babyís father know about the child. Tara isnít enthusiastic about meeting this sleaze, but she knows she has to keep her promise.

After Tara confronts the doctor, Matt has a surprise announcement of his own. He tells her he knows the baby isnít his. In fact this was just the icing on the cake for a very bad several months. Someone stole his wallet and ever since has been charging to the limit with those credit cards and others he obtained by assuming Mattís name. Mattís reputation has been destroyed, along with his credit rating. Matt has to assume the same man has now foisted a child on him.

Tara has some real doubts about his story but as she gets to know Matt she realizes he must be telling the truth. Through a series of fortunate accidents, Tara stays for a long time at his guesthouse and helps Matt track down the thief -- and her nieceís father.

While the initial premise is interesting, this story drags on much too long. Part of the problem is that Matt is a nice man and a dedicated doctor who falls immediately for the heroine but hesitates. Tara is a lovely young woman who was a dedicated sister and is a mother to her niece. There arenít too many character flaws for the reader to get interested in or for the characters to overcome.

Another problem is that Matt does have a secret he is reluctant to let Tara know, even though they are deeply attracted to each other. I got tired of waiting for Matt to finally get enough guts to tell Tara his secret. And, while Iíll admit a guy might not be eager to announce this to a stranger, this one would have saved him a lot of time and money.

The big climaxes to the story -- finding who baby Erinís dad really is and finding out when Tara will find out about the big problem -- actually comes without much drama. The couple searches, off and on, for the father and at last someone identifies him. Someone catches him and the two visit him in jail. The big confrontation takes less than six pages. Mattís equally big confession and Taraís decision about what to do takes about the same amount of space. That leaves a lot of waiting in a 250 page book. Frankly, I got bored.

--Irene Williams


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