Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And Baby Makes Five by Gail Gaymer Martin

Book Review by Zinta Aistars

Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc, 2007
Price: $4.95
ISBN: 978-1-59789-638-2

And Baby Makes Five was the second of two Christian romances sent to me by the author, Gail Gaymer Martin, for review. I had already read Garlic and Roses, so came to this book with a certain expectation in place. As stated in my review for Garlic and Roses, I am by no measure a "romance" reader.

And yet, I do try to keep an open mind whenever opening the cover of a yet unread book, doing my best not to judge by cover or even by genre. That said, certain stereotypical assumptions for the genre of romance held. The main characters were attractive, young people, pitted against seemingly insurmountable odds, but driven by their growing passion one for the other. What differentiates this book, however, from the usual expectation for a romance paperback, is that the passion is more one of faith than heaving bosom. Indeed, this is what saved the book for me. Are we not all weary of cliche by now? Perhaps not. Perhaps there are those readers who like their literary diet predictable, like to know exactly what they are getting, like the comfort and reassurance of routine. I am not one of them. I enjoy a surprise. A sudden twist. An a-ha moment. Looking for that? I would suggest passing up this genre entirely.

Still here? Okay. If you are still interested, this little paperback isn't bad. While I have extremely slim pickings for comparison, I found the opening scene intriguing. Felisa Carrilo is doubled over with pain while working in the fields in the hot southern sun. Chad, young and wealthy owner of these fields, happens by and notices. The young woman seems to be hiding something ... and then he realizes it is her belly. The pretty young Mexican woman is pregnant, and he is horrified at her predicament, convinces her to let him help her (no easy feat, but as a migrant worker, she has grown to distrust her employers if not men in general) and takes her to the hospital.

What follows is, let's face it, something of a Cinderella story. Prince Charming saves the poor, downtrodden woman. He brings her and her baby to live in his mansion, exposes her to the life of the wealthy, the two fall in love and, yes, there is that happily ever after part coming. This is, I would suspect, the general outline of most romance novels. What makes this one different is that, as mentioned earlier, it is based more on passion of faith than passion of flesh. There are prejudices to overcome, not the least of which is the slow pace of their cautious courtship in a society that has all but forgotten the art of courtship. There are also racial and ethnic prejudices, class prejudices, and not only from the upper class looking down. The lower class looking up has its own set of stereotypes and expectations to overcome. All of this does add an element of interest to the storyline.

For all its lack of surprise or plot twist, I have to say I enjoyed the quick and easy read. Much as one does a quick, sweet snack between gourmet meals. While I was eager to return to my usual more literary choices in reading material, a bite of chocolate now and then isn't all bad. I was reminded, in reading both of Martin's books, of what a tragedy it is that modern society has indeed forgotten the art of courtship. The glance from afar. The shy first conversation. The touch of fingertips. The longing and wondering. The waiting. With our modern life pressures to skip the wait and go immediately to instant gratification ... the sad truth is that the gratification is made empty. Passion of the flesh when separated from passion of the heart is cotton candy. It melts in a moment, leaving nothing behind but empty calories and an unsatisfied hunger.

For this reason, I commend the author for the two books I've read, and the many others she has written that I have not read. Light reading, yes, but it serves a need, it is a valuable reminder that romance is often the last thing secular "romance" novels address. If at all.

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