Matters Of The Heart
by Pamela Morsi, Ann Major, and Annette Broadrick; contemporary (2001)
Silhouette, $6.50, ISBN 0-373-48427-5

Ah, babies. How many ways can romance authors exploit thee? In this anthology, a baby plays the central role in reuniting a secret agent with his one-night stand. Two kiddie twins reunite two ex-flames. And three kids open a shy guy's heart to the woman he always have a crush on. Hey, let's toss a baby into the midst of an UN meeting and who knows, we may get World Peace!

Ann Major kicks of the story with You're My Baby. Dotty old bat Emma Langston is worried that her sons will never marry. The eldest, Gabe, is a super-duper millionaire who invents something called the LXK that will revolutionize the Internet. What's LXK? I don't know. The author doesn't even tell if it's a browser, spyware, or what. Guess the octogenarian "homespun values" apple-pie baking ladies this book is targetted to are not expected to know what Internet is, much less care. And what kind of name is LXK?

Anyway, Emma's neighbor, another old bat, happily tells her that Samantha, Gabe's ex, is coming home with twins she adopted from China. Oh, and maybe now Sam, a good girl who don't sleep over like Neighbor Granny knows Gabe's ladies do (she spies into his bedroom with a pair of binoculars and then write to Sam telling her all about it). Emma is delighted. Gabe isn't. Neither is Sam. But they can scream all they want - no one stands in the way of scheming evil grannies.

Frankly, someone should tell the author that voyeur grannies aren't exactly a "cute" concept, much less a funny one. Anyway, this story is pretty much familiar territory, with some wet T-shirts thrown in here and there. Sam and Gabe behave like kids with communication problems, and granny saves the day. The end.

Next, Anne Broadrick's I'm Going To Be A... What?! Gee, what can the plot be, huh? Window-dressing secret agent Robert, another of Emma's sons, whose job seems to be having lots of free time to enjoy life (hey, Pentagon, where do I sign up?), is stunned when his one-nighter girlie Laura Abbott tells him she's pregnant. They marry, but Laura has problems adjusting to the concept of mommyhood. This wuld have been a decent story were not for the potentially offensive twist at the end, where Laura's male employer forces her to leave her job and she decides, why, yes, of course, she has to spend time taking care of baby, and working mommies... tsk tsk, duh. If you're not fine with this concept of man-knows-best, don't say I didn't warn you.

Pamela Morsi ends the anthology with Marriage In Mind. Yes, it's a contemporary novella. Clu, the remaining single son of Emma, is a shy nerd who has a crush of Aziza "Zizi" Joseph, but she thinks he's gay. Her reasons for thinking he's gay, by the way, is strictly third-grade mentality that it isn't that funny (unless third-grade kids, not adults as in this case, are discussing it). Still, it doesn't stop her from marrying Clu out of convenience For The Sake Of The Kiddies. Imagine her surprise when Clu wags that thing at her.

This novella is pretty sweet because Clu is so adorable as the shy guy with mental baggages, but Zizi does come off as slightly-not-there most of the time. The kids really have no place in the story, as they just take up space. Still, this one has some emotional oomph - some, not much - compared to the other two by-the-book novellas.

Verdict? Not something to get excited about, this one. Ho-hum stories to pass a ho-hum day.

Rating: 66

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