Casey Sinclair's soon-to-be ex-husband cleaned out their bank account and skipped town the minute he found out she was pregnant. Casey knows now that he never wanted to be married and especially didn't want to have kids, but that doesn't help her financial situation. Desperate to find a job to pay the bills before the electricity gets turned off, she responds to an ad for a photographer's assistant. Casey had learned photography from her foster parents, and knows that she can do the job well, but she's afraid that the owner of the studio may not want to hire her if he knows she's pregnant. Casey hates lying, even a lie of omission, but she simply cannot take the chance of not getting this job.
Wyatt Keene has been hiding away from the world since his wife and unborn child tragically died a year ago. The photography studio had really been her dream, and she, unfortunately, had not shared his enthusiasm about having a family even after discovering that she was pregnant. Now Wyatt's accountant is telling him that he either needs to sell the studio or get back to work, so he decides to move on with his life and hire an assistant to handle the portraits that his wife used to do. When Casey breezes into his life wanting the position, he is rather taken with her perky, upbeat attitude, and when he sees her work, Wyatt can't help but admit that she's every bit as good of a photographer as his wife had been. As they begin to work together more closely on shoots, an undeniable attraction starts to blossom between them. Casey had every intention of telling Wyatt about the baby as soon as she became established as his employee, but when she finds out about the circumstances of his wife's death, she doesn't want to be a constant reminder of his grief and sadness. But Casey can't hide her pregnancy forever, and what will Wyatt do when he finally learns the truth?
I've always been a fan of pregnancy storylines in romance novels, but haven't read a really good one in a while. When Roz Denny Fox contacted me about reviewing her new book, The Baby Album, I was quite eager to read it, in large part because of the plot. I'm so glad I got the opportunity, because her book definitely fit the bill. Having the heroine be pregnant by a man other than the hero can sometimes, in my experience, be tricky for an author to get just right, but I thought Ms. Fox did a very good job of creating sympathetic characters in a difficult, but sweet and touching situation. The plot of a heroine pregnant by a jerk of an ex, meeting the perfect man who wants a family but has been denied that through tragic circumstances is not a particularly new or unique one, but The Baby Album was still distinctive enough to hold my attention throughout and gave me plenty of warm, fuzzy feelings at the end.
I simply couldn't help but like the hero and heroine, Wyatt and Casey. They are both talented photographers which is a different profession that I don't think I've come across yet in my romance reading, and since photography is an art-form that I really appreciate, I was quite taken by that element of the story. Wyatt is a man who really wants kids, but his first wife was very career driven and not as enthusiastic about the prospect of having a family. Then when she died from pregnancy complications, Wyatt shut himself off from his work and his circle of friends for a long time. When he finally decides to start up his photography business again, he needs help, and Casey comes breezing into his life with her perky but sweet personality. Casey's ex-husband was a complete cad who left her pregnant with no money, but she never whined about her circumstances. She wasn't one of those tough, independent heroines who thinks she doesn't need anyone, but she did have a determined, upbeat attitude in spite of her difficulties. Normally, I'm not big on "casting" my romance novels, but for some reason, the way Casey is described made me keep thinking of Kristen Chenoweth. She is an actress I really like, so sub-consciously drawing that comparison, in some ways, made Casey even more appealing to me. Overall, Wyatt and Casey were just two very realistic and relatable characters who I could see myself being friends with in real-life, and they were perfect for each other. On a little side note, I have to give kudos to the cover artist for The Baby Album. I can't tell you the number of times that the cover of a book just doesn't seem to fit what is contained within the pages, but to me, this one was just perfect including the choice of models, who fit the descriptions of the characters to a tee.
In my opinion, "The Big Secret" has been rather overdone in romance, and I'm typically not too keen on a secondary character giving away information about one of the main characters either. I usually just prefer for the hero and heroine to communicate and get things out in the open. In this case, I didn't really mind too much, because the author created palatable reasons for both elements which made sense within the context of the story. It never really felt like Casey was blatantly lying by keeping her pregnancy a secret from Wyatt, since it originated out of desperation, and continued to spare Wyatt's feelings. Nor did it feel particularly gossipy of Wyatt's friend, Brenda, to tell Casey about his wife's death, because it helped Casey to understand Wyatt better. For once, it all just came together and worked for me. On the other hand, I would have liked to read a little more of the story from Wyatt's perspective. The majority is told from Casey point of view, and although I got to know Wyatt well-enough and felt that I understood him for the most part, I just would have liked to know what he was thinking a little more often. It would also have been nice to have a little more build-up of their relationship and sexual tension. These aspects were present, but not in quite as generous proportions as I would have preferred. I'm certainly willing to admit though that some of this may have more to do with the shorter Harlequin format (I've noticed that they've been getting even shorter over the last couple of years) than the author's writing talent. In fact, from what I can tell, Ms. Fox has a nice tight writing style that is very well-suited for the Harlequin medium. Overall, The Baby Album was a sweet, enjoyable read. There are only a couple of mild profanities and the only love scene is skimmed over with no explicit details, making it suitable, in my opinion, for younger and more sensitive romance readers. For anyone seeking a light, easy read with likable characters and a feel-good story, this book should really hit the spot. The Baby Album was my first read by Roz Denny Fox, but her pleasant writing style and heartwarming storytelling has left me eager to start checking out her back-list.
Note: The Baby Album is part of the multi-author series 9 Months Later, a theme series by Harlequin in which each story involves a pregnancy. The Baby Album is #59 in this series, but to my knowledge is a stand-alone novel with no connection to other books in the series except the theme.
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