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REVIEW: The Baby Twins by Laura Marie Altom

Dear Ms. Altom,

As someone who cheerfully admits that if I ever got on another airplane, I’d probably be the one who wigged out and caused the air marshals to be called in, the blurb of this book caught my attention. A heroine who freaks out at 30,000 feet. Hey, I can relate! The babies didn’t interest me so much but the hero sounded intriguing as well so I thought, WTF?

A pilot’s widow, Stephanie Olmstead isn’t afraid of flying…until the plane takes off, triggering a panic attack! Suddenly, the single mother of twins has a new man in her life. Brady McGuire, the pilot who saved her from a major meltdown, now sees himself as her protector. And friend.

Between flying and moving across the country to be closer to his daughter, Brady’s life is hectic enough. But ever since he played hero, he can’t stay away from the gorgeous single mom and her infant girls. That’s when things start happening really fast. But is Stephanie ready to move on? Brady has his doubts. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

That’s one interesting opening with a full blown panic attack requiring calling in the troops to interrogate her and the entire plane of people after she was put in flex cuffs. That’s a new one on me. I’m just curious as to whether or not she’d end up on some official list of “no fly” people or if her case would be dismissed as a one-off? It doesn’t seem to hinder her getting on several planes throughout the story.

Despite the title, the twins aren’t front and center in the story. More time seems to be spent on Brady’s older daughter Lola and Stephanie seems able to park the twins at a moments notice with several friends so she can jet off or do things with Brady around the city. And how does a single mother with twins under age one and a full time business have so much free time? I have friends with one baby who’d love to know the secret of her time management skills.

Stephanie is quick with advice for Brady about how to mend his relationship with his daughter and how he could have been at fault with the breakup of his first marriage but she’s very resistant to taking any for her own issues. In return Brady is bluntly honest with her about how he doesn’t think she needs to be flying instead of pussyfooting around the subject like some of her friends. But then given the way she turns into a watering pot every other minute, I can see why they’d step carefully.

You give Brady an “all you can eat” plateful of conflict. The end of his first marriage, his current snipping with his former wife, Clarissa, and her new husband – someone Brady knows and resents like hell, and his distant relationship with his daughter. You did a good job making him partly responsible for his marital problems without turning him into a villain since he honestly thought that his long hours at work was a positive thing which allowed him to support his wife and child. While I’m glad he finally acknowledges his part in the breakup of his first marriage and seems determined to mend his ways with his daughter, at least, I still have a hard time accepting that the next Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration won’t still have a degree of tension in the air especially after Clarissa’s numerous comments about Brady and Stephanie. A simple, “gee I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it after some of the things that woman said.

Then there’s Brady and Stephanie’s relationship. At first, they’re just friends and Stephanie almost shoots Brady down for suggestion a simple phone number exchange. Suddenly Brady starts showing up in Arkansas all the time and pushing for more. Stephanie resists, strongly resists, and scoffs at them dating all the while continuously bringing up her first husband. Then – suddenly – she’s hot for not only a relationship but marriage. Even without her commitment challenges, I had a hard time with this. I’m with her sister Lisa, it’s too much too soon.

Stephanie snaps and barks at people a lot. Again, not something I’m used to seeing in a Harlequin heroine. Bully for you in taking a chance on her and on her blowing off the well meaning advice of her friends and family – advice I happened to agree with. But you can’t make a horse drink and Stephanie won’t listen until her near total breakdown at the wedding. Wow, that’s quite a breakdown. I’m still debating which one was worse – the plane or the church. At least she couldn’t have crashed the church. However, she did finally get the hint that she wasn’t ready to marry again without some counseling.

The resolution of the final internal conflict for Stephanie is fairly fast. A miracle breakthrough and voila! she’s on her way to being mentally ready to marry again. Good for her even if I don’t buy it or Brady’s reaction to her contrite apology at his hotel door in the early hours of the morning. Twue lurve with hearts and flowers all over the place.

As I mentioned, there’s lots of conflicts here. Stephanie not being over her husband’s death and fearing closeness with another man only to potentially lose him, Brady’s conflict with his first wife and her new husband and with his daughter who is torn between those two and Brady and Stephanie being ready to get married. Though I applaud the chances and risks you take with the story, I have to say that the resolutions are just too pat and easy.

I can start a book not liking one or both of the main characters. I can continue a long way into a book still feeling that same way as long as I see something in either or both characters to make me think things will change. I started liking Brady and was glad to watch him rebuild his relationship with his daughter and start to come to terms with his first marriage. I didn’t care for Stephanie, didn’t warm up to her, don’t believe her sudden changes and actually feel sorry for Brady being stuck with her. Not a good sign or a good grade.

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

11 Comments

  1. DS
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 16:28:44

    Flying is such an irritating experience any more that I could not imagine anything about a flight leading to romance. Ok, there may be an erotic possibility with the full body scanners.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jayne
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 17:16:40

    @DS: No scanners here. Just air marshals, long interrogations, a planeload of pissed off passengers and our two love birds.

    ReplyReply

  3. bam
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 17:43:03

    I’m sorry… but shouldn’t it be Twin Babies?

    ReplyReply

  4. Chicklet
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 21:48:17

    @bam: You’re right, unless their surname is Baby. “These are my children, Taylor Baby and Hunter Baby. But everyone calls them the Baby Twins.”

    ReplyReply

  5. Kim in Hawaii
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 00:40:12

    A little off topic, but I developed a fear of flying to/from Denver for RomCon -turbulence! Although I could drive to Orlando for the RWA National Convention, I had to fly across the Pacific to get home. So I asked Silhoutte author Cindy Dees about turbulence. Since she was a C5 pilot, I knew she experienced all kinds of challenges in the air. She broke away from her friends to talk me through my fear and even entertain me with stories of what she has done when flying as a passenger! I was very excited for Cindy to win the RITA on Saturday night.

    So, I can sympathize with the heroine’s fear of flying!

    ReplyReply

  6. Moth
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 01:59:28

    Boy! That book blurb! Has! A lot! Of! Exclamation points!

    Guess the publisher was trying to make it sound exciting?

    ReplyReply

  7. kerry
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 06:44:15

    I really like the differences you’ve described here from the typical Harlequins – second marriages, crazy situations, conflicts, etc. It’s too bad the heroine sounds like kind of a jerk. :( Thanks for the review though. Of all the DA reviewers, your taste matches mine the most closely, so I always look for your reviews!

    ReplyReply

  8. Jayne
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 06:59:14

    @kerry: The chances that were taken in the story were what kept me going with it. But in the end there just wasn’t enough resolution time for me to believe it.

    ReplyReply

  9. Jayne
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 07:01:01

    @Kim in Hawaii: I think if I took a whole handful of Valium tablets before the plane taxied out to the runway, I might make it but would probably then be too tranq’d out to be allowed on the flight for safety reasons.

    ReplyReply

  10. Kim in Hawaii
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 08:47:36

    Jayne, I flew 10 legs in two months without Valium (it was a short notice trip). I gave up good seats to help traveling families, hoping this would render good karma. The turbulence to/from Denver was the worse … so much for good karma!

    But almost every passanger in my rows talked to me to keep my mind off my fears (in contrast, my children ignored me enroute back to Hawaii).

    I especially commend Wendy the Superlibrarian for chatting with me from Orlando to Vegas – she was kind to understand my fear and educated me on the history of romance blogging.

    So if you have to travel in the future, fly with Wendy!

    ReplyReply

  11. Randi
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 12:28:18

    Um..I know a several couples who have twins. No one saw them (the parents) for the first 6-7 months, because they were basically at home feeding, sleeping, and changing diapers. When you have to feed two babies every 3 hours, on schedule, there isn’t a whole lot of time for anything else, and when there is time, it’s time to sleep. I cannot imagine what Stephanie goes through as a SINGLE parent with twins. That sounds hellacious, and from talking to other parents with twins, even when there’s two parents, free time is a vital commodity. I think the author needs to spend A LOT of time with twins before writing about them. Because Stephanie, sure as shit, would not be gallivanting off ANYWHERE.

    ReplyReply

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