October 2008, Series Romance
Harl American Romance #1229, $4.99, 213 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373752334 Part of a series
I never thought someone might attempt to make me feel guilty about giving birth in a hospital, but reading Holding the Baby made me feel like I was getting a lecture on New Age philosophy and going all natural.
Leah Williams, a midwife who attends women in at-home births in a small Colorado town, is supposed to be her sisterís surrogate - a sister, I might add, who didnít believe in testing to determine why she couldnít conceive. Of course her sister comes up pregnant and Leah must make some life-changing decisions for her and her young daughter. To complicate matters, the babyís father, her sisterís brother-in-law, wants to be a part of its life.
The father, Mark Logan, is a mountaineer who runs an outdoor guide service.
He is also a difficult man to deal with; nature is his priority. He lives as naturally as he can - off the grid - and with a belief that women should deliver their babies naturally. Though the situation his brother has forced him into isnít ideal (and the non-natural method of pregnancy doesn't make much sense given his belief system), Leah, her young daughter from her first marriage, and the baby they will have together, give him a second chance at family. Heís willing to make sacrifices to be in his new childís life.
Though Leah works to make a good relationship with Mark for their babyís sake, she realizes pretty quickly she doesnít like his authoritarian ways. Though he starts off their relationship by issuing dictates, she quickly finds herself attracted to him. When they decide to take their relationship to the next level, other complications, in the form of his teenage daughter and her four-year-old, threaten the relationship.
I probably would have enjoyed this story much more if there were more showing and a lot less telling, as well as more character development. The hero's judgmental ways and controlling actions continued until the very end, although I recognize that he had the heroineís best interests (or what he felt was best for her) in mind as he tried to work through their dilemmas. I found the heroine weak, though far more sympathetic than the hero. Also, each chapter ends with a journal entry belonging to Markís teenage daughter. While the entries show the growth of the family, they felt out of place and it wasnít until the end that I realized their purpose. Though I realize that too much of anything can be bad, I felt as though I was forced to sit through a lecture on why technology can be bad and why living all natural is good.
Even as many aspects of the book limited my wholehearted enjoyment of it, it did manage to hold my interest. I wanted to see what each of the leading characters would do to the relationship and how the children would cope with the family adjustments. I also enjoy stories where families are blended and find a happily ever after, though this HEA is questionable.
Holding the Baby was, for me, not quite an average read. It held my interest, but succeeded in giving me cause for complaint. For the record, Iím okay with the fact that I had my children in a hospital and used pain meds for childbirth. Thank God for modern technology.
-- Heather Brooks
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