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The Virgin & the Outlaw

 
Just a Little Bit Pregnant
by Eileen Wilks
(Silhouette Desire 1134, $3.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-76134-1
***
Remember the television commercial featuring gorgeous actress Kelly LeBrock, showing off her lovely hair? She admonishes, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful." Well, I'm asking the same thing that Kelly did. Don't ignore this book because of its rather outlandish title.

Houston newspaper reporter Jacy James is two months pregnant. She had a one night stand with policeman Tom Rasmussin and hasn't seen him since. That's his choice. Her choice, after learning that she's pregnant, is to storm into his office and demand that he help her with expenses. Good for her. No shrinking violet here.

Jacy is willing to give Tom visiting rights, but she immediately declines his offer of marriage. You see, Tom has done the inexcusable. After their one sexual encounter, he got out of bed and told Jacy that being with her was a mistake. He's hit her where she's most vulnerable. As a newborn, she was left on the steps of an orphanage. At age seven she gave up on being adopted or having her mother return. All her life she's considered herself a mistake. Tom's use of the word is just too painful, irritating a wound that's deep and long-lasting.

Her burgeoning trust in Tom is shattered, almost irreparably, when she learns that their one night was on the anniversary of the death of his wife. Her pregnancy is going to be medically difficult, so she's forced to accept Tom's help...grudgingly. Tom needs all the time he can get to repair the damage he's unwittingly created.

Jacy and Tom are probably like many of us, with pasts that are not particularly rosy. Jacy has always felt unlovable. Tom, being a policeman, is outwardly strong but the death of his wife has left him in an uncompromising position about committed relationships. He wants no part of one.

The metamorphosis of these two characters is nicely done. Jacy's awakening is the more traumatic because she's got the most to overcome. With Tom's assistance and support, she begins a quest to find her mother. This leads to interesting, unexpected repercussions. While her pregnancy is the reason they are together, it is not the focal point of the book.

Wilks has included two very interesting secondary characters. The nun who was most important to Jacy as a child is still around, offering encouragement. The only true comic relief is Tom's brother, an undercover cop. He keeps the book from being too dark.

Rating this book was a paradox. What keeps it from being a two-heart book is also what keeps it from being a recommended four-heart book. These are complex characters who are written so well that they are very realistic.

Jacy's past hurts are well documented. Tom's reason for avoiding commitment are also well-drawn. But it's that very complexity and tension which makes these characters so intense. Having fun, relaxing, cutting loose, giving each other some slack . . . it never happens.

Just a Little Bit Pregnant won't be a personal favorite of mine. I like a smile and a ray of sunshine to occur...well before the ending.

--Eileen Wilks


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