Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: The Baby Bargain by Jennifer Apodaca

The Baby Bargain
By Jennifer Apodaca
Once a Marine #1

I downloaded this book a few weeks ago when I was in the mood for a sweet contemporary romance after all the murder mystery and serial killer stories I’d been reading at the time. Well, I shifted out of that mode but still had this book to read and was really pleased to discover that this wasn’t the “cute” story I thought it would be. It has a really strong mystery/suspense element underpinning the romance and there’s quite a bit of conflict.

The Set Up

Megan Young dated Adam Waters in college but they went their separate ways when he wasn’t able to sustain a committed relationship because of some serious emotional trauma from his childhood. She’s now a veterinarian with her own practice in their home town of Raven’s Cove, California. About three years ago, he came home for his parents’ funeral and looked to Megan for comfort but left the next day to join the Marines, telling her he couldn’t do this and didn’t leave any contact information, and she hasn’t heard from him since. He suddenly appears at her office doorstep with an injured stray dog asking for help. Megan’s panicked because he doesn’t know that he left her pregnant and they now have a son. Adam is out of the Marines, now owns his own security firm and has returned to sell his parents’ home.

The Conflicts

I really hate when a woman doesn’t tell a man that he’s a father and can rarely accept an excuse for her doing so. It was a major conflict for me (and Adam!), though Meg had some pretty compelling reasons to explain her actions. They made me more sympathetic to her situation and while I still believed she was wrong in not attempting to find him, I at least understood her perspective. Meanwhile, someone is trying to set her up, putting her practice in jeopardy and the potential of her facing jail time. Having this issue in the background while the two of them struggled to come to terms with their feelings for each other, their baggage and Meg’s secret made for a really interesting and compelling story. It wasn’t tough to figure out the mystery but it still added so much tension to the mix that the book was tough to put down.

The Bottom Line

This was a layered story with the two main characters showing up as courageous, tragic and misguided at the same time. Their physical relationship was the one thing that always worked for them but also worked against them in working through the hard issues. It’s not the sweet story I anticipated (the title really doesn’t do this book justice) and believe me, I was really happy about that. What I got was so much more (4 1/2 stars) and made even sweeter when I discovered this is the first book in a new series. Bring it on.


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