by Marcia Evanick, contemporary (1993)
Loveswept, $3.50, ISBN 0-553-44327-5
In Daddy's Arms seems interesting on the surface, and I'm not just talking about the half-naked cartoon beefcake on the cover. This one has what seems to be a hero who shoots blanks. Bain O'Neil worked undercover for NYPD, taking down scums everywhere, until his cover was blown in his last gig and those scums took their time torturing him there. By the time he was rescued, the doctor told him that the initial test showed that Bain's baby batter now lacks that special something, if you know what I mean. Cue lots of angst as Bain starts tearing up and lamenting that he will never be able to spread those mighty Irish O'Neil genes anymore.
Ah, but back when he was younger, he donated his baby batter to some childless couple, so now he starts wondering about that kid of his. After breaking in and stealing the relevant records, he manages to track his two kids - yes, we are talking about two kids here - down. Erin Flynn, our heroine, has conveniently lost her husband when this cute guy shows up in her life. She mistakes Bain for someone wanting to rent a room in her apartment, and Bain plays along, letting her believe that he is a writer needing a place to work on a novel. What happens when Erin learns that the man she is falling for is the biological father of her creepily precocious kids?
This story is a pretty good example of one padded with artificial conflicts to the detriment of the story itself. Now, I understand that perhaps Bain initially feels reluctant to tell Erin that he is the seed from which the fruits of her garden are borne from. "Hello! I'm that creepy dude who broke into the records office to stalk you and stare disturbingly at your two young daughters!" doesn't seem so romantic no matter how I look at it. But that doesn't change the fact that this is still a typical and even clichéd tale of love amidst deception, right down to the timing when Erin learns the truth about Bain. Still, Erin is quite reasonable in that she doesn't overreact or blow a gasket when she learns the truth. It is when she becomes pregnant that the crap hits the fan.
Oh, did I spoil the story? Come on, you don't seriously expect the hero to be allowed to shoot blanks, do you? The thing is, Bain wants Erin to have an abortion. My personal feelings about abortion aside - and I personally feel that we should allow abortion on a case-by-case basis instead of outright banning it - this conflict doesn't make sense, unless the author's intention is to showcase what a rotten bastard Bain is. I mean, this fellow starts out crying like a baby because he can't sire children, but then, when he realizes that he can still put a bun in the oven, he decides that children has no place in his life with Erin. Bain comes off like an asshole who only wants something when he believes that he can't have it. And his reasoning - his job is too dangerous for him to have children - doesn't make sense considering that he sought out his two children in the first place to want to know them better.
Throughout the drama, Erin behaves far more reasonably than I would have, were I in her shoes. It's just too bad that so much of her character is composed of tired "poor widow with children" clichés, her children are unrealistic plot devices to force her and Bain to come together, and Bain comes off looking like a colossal selfish crybaby by the last page of this story.
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