The Fatherhood Factor

I Now Pronouce You
Mom & Dad

Who’s That Baby? By Diana Whitney
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1305, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-24305-7
The story sounds clichéd. It should be clichéd. Little orphan child left on the doorstep of the workaholic bachelor who doesn’t know anything about babies? He needs to find someone to take care of the baby and finds a beautiful pediatrician who happens to have a huge crush on him? Please. But guess what! It works beautifully.

Johnny Winterhawk starts his evening with two fingers of whiskey and a mountain of work he has brought home. He just killed the pet goldfish he had been given - -but then he knew he wasn’t up to taking care of anything, not even a goldfish. Then the doorbell rings. And there is a baby in a basket with a note from his ex-girlfriend. He knows he needs help and he calls a client - - Buttonwood Baby Clinic. And there is Claire Davis to take the call. She is already interested in Johnny. She immediately falls in love with Baby Lucy.

Why was it interesting? Well, Johnny is a great guy. He doesn’t want to care because when he does care about other people, they leave him. When they leave him, he really hurts. But, try as he might, he can’t help but fall in love with the baby he is pretty sure is his child. And, try as he might, he can’t help falling in love with Claire Davis.

Claire is a pretty nice character, too. She loves both Johnny and Lucy and hates the idea of Lucy’s mother leaving a baby the way Claire was left as a child. When Lucy’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend are found killed in an accident, Johnny and Claire decide to get married for Lucy’s sake.

But Claire knows perfectly well that she isn’t doing it for altruistic reasons. She wants both Lucy and Johnny in her life. She knows how to take care of babies and she is perfectly willing to read magazine self-help articles on how to snare a guy. (And the articles she reads seem to work a lot better than any I’ve ever seen work in real life.) In other words, the characters are good people and they react the way good people would in this situation.

When Lucy’s parentage is revealed and Johnny decides how to deal with it, his decision sounds right. It sounds like what a decent guy would do when he finds out what has happened. When he and Claire break up over it, you know why she feels the way she does. There is a great scene near the end of the book where you see Johnny trying to go back to his work, whiskey and routine and failing miserably because of the changes Claire and Lucy have made in his life. And, of course, when love triumphs, everyone feels good about it. The ending isn’t forced. It seems inevitable, given the characters and how they work.

This story is worth reading - - it has good characterization, fun dialogue, and it is done by an author who can rise above a cliché.

--Irene D. Williams

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