Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86373-0
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Secret baby stories are a tough sell where I am concerned. They usually work better in a historical setting, because there are many plausible reasons why the baby ends up the big secret: disruption of communication by wars, inadequate postal system, and such. In a contemporary setting, this premise has a tendency to be badly handled to the point that the heroine comes off as a colossal idiot with a bigger case of me-me-me-first. Maybe the father wants her to abort the baby and she refuses. Maybe he’s a drug dealer wanted by the Interpol. Maybe he’s from a cult who intends to sacrifice the baby to open a gate to hell and allow the Devil to come over and take over the world. There has to be a good reason why the heroine wants to deprive the father of the knowledge of their baby and the child from his or her father’s presence.
Heroine Crystal Eaton’s reason is basically she doesn’t want to share her baby with anyone else, even the father Joseph Cole-Wilson whom she met and got knocked up by during a one-night stand. This story revolves around Joseph running around trying to convince her that he wants to be a part of her life and raise their child together, while Crystal is like, “No, no, no! Baby is mine, mine, mine!” This is going to make or break Sweet Silver Bells to any reader, so know your poison and approach with caution.
I guess I should also mention that Sweet Silver Bells is “huge” in that it is the author’s effort to turn two of her long-running series into one big happy family, but since all the guys look and sound like one another – same with the women – and everyone is differentiated only by his or her job and whatever whack job neurosis they had before they found someone to get married to, I have a hard time mustering any interest in that particular development. It’s like watching non-stop sequels to The Hills Have Eyes, only this time the expanding family bore me to death instead of trying to capture and eat people.
Back to the story, the reason I have giving this book one oogie is because the whole thing just doesn’t make sense. I have no grand objections to Crystal wanting to be a single mother since her family is so loaded that she won’t be depriving her brat of material comfort. However, Crystal’s issue when it comes to falling in love is that her parents divorced so oh, this has been traumatizing her long after she becomes an adult. Her father keeps dating skanks! Her mother keeps dating guys! (Guys are never skanks because they sell sequels, and besides, the author makes it a big point to tell me that Mommy here doesn’t put out indiscriminately, because only guys can do that without being considered immoral and unlovable by romance authors and readers alike.)
I’d think Crystal’d be less ready to reject Joseph and therefore most likely subject her brat to the same loveless cycle she insists she has been through, but Crystal doesn’t do that self awareness thing. She rubs against Joseph when she’s horny, but blames him when she’s back on earth and then insists that he stays nearby to cater to her needs while not moving from that friend zone. At least, until she gets horny again. The poor dear comes off like a big spoiled and selfish diva who never considers her baby even once in the decisions she makes for the two of them. Joseph comes off like the biggest wimp for jumping through her hoops for so long. Come on, dude, grow a spine and sue for paternity or something. This is one woman who deserves to be given that kind of treatment, because she doesn’t act or think like she’s ready to be a mother. The baby is just another accessory for her parade her neurotic issues for the world to see.
Worse, the author tackles this story as if the two characters are arguing over who gets to use the bathroom first. Important and much-needed conversations never happen, no credible emotional growth takes place, and, instead, the author wastes precious word count setting up side stories and sequels. The plot, therefore, is basically: “diva, diva, diva, okay, happy now, the end.”
Sweet Silver Bells takes a problematic premise and makes it worse through some really incompetent execution. If secret baby plots give you allergies, it’s best to just flee for the hills instead of approaching this one with caution.