The Bride's Baby

Liz Fielding
April 2008, Series Romance
Harl Rom # 4016, $3.99, 192 pages, Amazon ASIN 037317506X
Part of a series

Grade: C
Sensuality: Subtle

As a warning to those who abhor shopworn plots, this story has a Big Mis and a (sort of) secret baby. Those who are okay with these plot devices, however, may still find The Brideís Baby to be a less than stellar story.

Sylvie Smith is an event organizer in charge of billionaire Tom McFarlane's wedding Ė that is, until his bride ran off and married one of her employees instead. While trying to convince him to cover her expenses anyway, a moment of mutual attraction leads to passion. Soon after, Todd leaves the country, to get her out of his head, while, in the meantime, Sylvie finds herself pregnant. Since she gets no reply to a note informing him of their child, Sylvie assumes he wants nothing to do with it. Five months along, Sylvie is planning her own "dream wedding" (minus a groom) for charity, at her familyís ancestral home outside of London - recently purchased by none other than Tom.

Tom, having only just returned from abroad, sees a small story in a gossip magazine speculating on a marriage between Sylvie and her former boyfriend. He assumes that the wedding is real, and struggles with the feelings he has for Sylvie that he was unable to get rid of while he worked around the world.

The story set up is a bit convoluted. For a long time I thought there was a prequel; in fact, I had to be told there was no prequel, because there were very serious vibes of a previous romance, and there seemed to be previous character and relationship development that I had missed. I wasnít sure what the basis of Sylvie and Tomís relationship was, or why he was interested in her. Some inconsistencies (or, at the very least, misleading passages) in the storytelling didnít help. The misunderstandings between Tom and Sylvie became misunderstandings between the book and me. I assumed these holes were explained by previous books in a series; however, this is the first book in a new series. The gaps are the book's own.

However, there were also some really nice scenes between the two, and Tom is a good character. I felt Ms. Fielding balanced the billionaire businessman and romantic hero well. Sylvie, too, was a sympathetic character in what she perceived as neglect from Tom.

Because of a lack of backstory in The Bride's Baby, I spent far too much time wondering what I missed to really enjoy it. The fact that I'd not actually missed anything, that there wasn't a prequel to the book, doesn't help; it only points to a lack of plot and character development on the author's part.

-- Jane Granville

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