Lovespell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52345-0
Paranormal Romance, 1999
This book is simply fun. I usually balk at anthologies that use babies and motherhood as a lure. Waking up at 3 am to change the brat’s wet diapers and then begging him to just sleep so that Mom and Dad can wake up in two hours time with some semblance of sanity isn’t exactly a fun experience, thank you very much. But maybe it’s something in the air, or maybe it’s because the stories by two of the three authors have me laughing my head off, but I love New Year’s Babies.
Eugenia Riley starts off the anthology with the weakest story, The Confused Stork, mainly because of a really implausible premise and a formulaic storyline. I’m to believe that babies are delivered to their parents by a stork, and this one stork has misplaced Emma Fairchild’s baby. In the last century. Heavenly Babies Department sends Emma a ticket that allows her to get her baby back. The baby’s with rake with a heart of gold Matthew Weymouth, who then takes Em into his protection. He searches for a wife for himself and a hubby for Em, there are the usual matchmaking staff… zzzzzzz. Nothing new here, though the author writes pretty well.
And let’s see. If a baby is delivered by a stork, what has Emma been carrying for the last 9 months? A bag of flour? And what pops out in the delivery room? No, wait, I don’t want to think about that. And I don’t think it’s nice for the Fellas Up There to send a woman who has just delivered a baby (if it’s a baby, shudder) to go harrying into the past to do some baby hunting. Not nice at all.
While the previous story isn’t exactly a great start, but Jennifer Archer gets the ball rolling with her Blame It on the Baby. It plays on my best revenge fantasy scenario. Pregnant and harried Tory Beecham-Todd whom I last saw in Body And Soul, is fed up. She gets admitted into law school but hubby thinks she’s better off taking care of the babies. While he does his manly thing, of course. Then she opens a fortune cookie to read A new beginning awaits you if you’ll speak your heart’s desire. Then before you know it, hubby Dillon and she has changed places. Literally. He’s now her and she he. Oh my.
Part of the fun is reading how hubby deals with carrying a watermelon while dealing with clerical work and taking care of the first brat plus housework. That would teach him! You can see me hooting with delight already. And Tory on the other hand has to face life being one of the guys.
It’s hilarious. Tory discovers that guys don’t pat each other’s hand, and now everything thinks that “Dillon” has a big secret in his, er, closet. Dillon realizes that motherhood isn’t all ribbons and cradle shopping. And best of all, each is horrified to hear the words they don’t like to hear coming out of their mouths. Tory always complain that Todd is never there, and now, she is annoyed when Dillon complains that she is always late and is never there for “her” and the kid. Dillon always complain to his friends that his wife nags, and now guess who’s doing the nagging. Needless to say both of them understand each other better, much better, at the end, and their compromise ensures that their marriage would stay blissful for probably another hundred years.
A Little Bit of Magic by Kimberly Raye is another wonderful treat. Neighbors Samantha Skye and Jake Morelli (any relations to a certain hunk Joe Morelli?) once had a one night stand, but realizes the next morning that they don’t suit. She is uncomfortable around babies, and he wants twelve of them. Sam’s absent-minded granny, who is a witch, one day changes Sam’s doll into a real life baby in the hope that dealing with a real baby may give Sam an idea on the joys of motherhood. Hopefully Sam would then give Granny some grandchildren. Only that Sam isn’t too pleased – that doll is the only one prototype of a new model that she is supposed to present the next day to her superiors. It’s now get doll back or lose her job. Granny can’t remember the spell that soon, however, so Sam’s stuck with wet diapers and howling for the time being. She picks up the phone. Jake? Heeee-eee-eeee-eeeee-eeeeee-lllllllppp!
Jake realizes having that twelve of these screaming, howling brats is maybe pushing it too far. Sam realizes that motherhood isn’t that bad. It is to the author’s credit that she manages to convey Sam’s change of heart in a manner that won’t make readers of the “Popping out babies isn’t all a woman is supposed to do!” school of thought take up arms. It’s gradual and, to me, not condescending at all. And I love watching how Jake and Sam fall in love.
Well, I must say that this is really a delightful anthology, two out three being fine stories worth several rereadings. It may almost make one miss her mothering days. Almost.