Baby, Come Home
by Stephanie Bond, contemporary (2011)
MIRA, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-2994-7


A big spoiler is present in this review. Sorry, folks, but I can't discuss why this book doesn't work completely for me without bringing it up.

Baby, Come Home is the second book in Stephanie Bond's Southern Roads trilogy. If you are new to the scene, you can always read my review of Baby, Drive South to get the back story of the series. DOn't worry, though, each book can stand alone on its own very well. I'm just too lazy to rehash the whole story behind the town of Sweetness and rebuilding efforts by the Armstrong brothers. And while I'm at it, I have to say the covers for the books in this trilogy are simply gorgeous.

Kendall Armstrong and Amy Bradshaw had a mad affair twelve years ago. Everything went swimmingly, until Amy realized that, instead of the two of them experiencing life together, it was mostly her waiting in Sweetheart for his return as he went off for all kinds of adventures. When he joined the Air Forces, she found herself relegated to that chick at home for him to come home and have hot sex with before running off again. The last straw was when she asked him to marry him and he said that he needed a few more years before he was ready to settle down. She never wanted to stay in Sweetheart for the rest of her life, so she dumped him and left town.

Today, civil engineer Amy comes back to Sweetheart to help build a much-needed bridge in Sweetheart. Kendall, who has never forgotten her, is surprised at first to see her, but eventually he warms up to the idea of having a second chance to really get things right with Amy. Wiser and older now, he will wine her, woo her, and make her see that he's ready to settle down and make her a very happy woman. The problem is, Kendall isn't exactly a smooth-talking man. Let's put it this way: when Kendall told him that she never wanted to see him again twelve years ago, he took her literally and pined after her without actually contacting her... because that was what she wanted. These two have their work cut out for them, I tell you.

This story is at first very entertaining. Amy and Kendall have mad chemistry together. The author does a great job at making their interactions sparkle with spontaneous humor that has me chuckling. These two seem to be going somewhere, and I'd love to see them get there...

... Until the secret baby thing pops up. This happens at about the second third of the book, and that development ruins everything. The story was going so, so well, until the author decides to ball and chain her main characters together with this tired and overused plot device. The same old tired arguments and developments that are found in pretty much every single secret baby book crop up, from the pathetic justifications of the heroine for keeping the hero in the dark to the predictable and tedious "suspense" on who is going to keep the baby, okay, twelve-year old naughty boy.

This plot device is unnecessary because Amy and Kendall are already getting there without the need of this plot contrivance. Worse, this plot device immediately ruins Amy's character. There is no credible reason why she should keep Tony's existence a secret for twelve years, so poor Amy is automatically mutated into a selfish twit. Worse, Tony's existence gives her no choice but to choose to be with Kendall - any other decision will make her look like a complete villain. Therefore, the author robs Amy of anything remotely human and believable about her character as well as forces Amy to choose Kendall without giving her any other option. Does Ms Bond really have so little faith in her ability to sell the romance between Amy and Kendall without introducing Harlequin's favorite plot contrivance?

This story is going so well until the sentence on page 188 - Kendall was the only man who'd ever tapped into that secret part of her - turns out to be a horrifying foreshadowing. Then the book falls deep into tedious, predictable, and boring banality that is the secret baby trope.

Rating: 61


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