Dear Ms. Adams,
About a year ago I read and enjoyed the first novel in your Willow Park series, Married for Christmas. Jessica and Daniel’s romance appealed to me in part because the characters were people of faith but the book was not an inspie and did not proselytize. Since I’m not Christian, the latter can really turn me off.
A Baby for Easter is the sequel to Married for Christmas, and it also takes place in Willow Park, and again, uses a similar approach to the characters and the issue of faith. Its hero is Micah, Daniel’s brother, and its heroine is Alice, who works part time as Daniel’s secretary at First Presbyterian Church in Willow Park, North Carolina.
Six months earlier, Alice was dumped by her fiance, Bill, who decided she wasn’t the right wife material for him. Two months after that happened, Alice was laid off from the university library where she worked as a librarian. Twenty-six year old Alice was forced to relocate back to Willow Park, move in with her parents, and take the part-time secretarial position at the church.
After two broken engagements, one with Bill and one with the college boyfriend who said he outgrew her, Alice is tired of bad relationships and has crafted a set of rules to ensure she doesn’t end up in another.
1. Never assume a man likes you unless he both tells you and shows you.
2. Never go out of your way to encourage a man to ask you out.
3. Never trap a man in a conversation about his feelings that he doesn’t want to have.
4. Never analyze a man’s behavior or read into his motivations and intentions toward you.
5. Never, ever, ever daydream about a future unless he’s promised you a future.
The only fly in this ointment is her boss’s brother, Micah. Micah and Alice had a subtle romance when Alice was sixteen. As church summer camp counselors, they spent a lot of time together. In the evenings they’d go for walks and open up to each other.
Their budding romance never had a chance to develop because Micah never asked Alice out and didn’t stay in touch when he went off to college. In college Micah became a party boy and began to sleep around and drink.
After graduating, Micah continued partying while doing handyman jobs for work. Eventually these gigs developed into a contractor business that somehow succeeded. And one day, a year ago, Micah decided to change his behavior and returned to the church.
Since Alice works with his brother, she sees Micah periodically. But though he is friendly to others, he is always distant and aloof with her, in contrast to his behavior in high school, and Alice doesn’t know why.
A slight thaw begins when Micah discovers that he is father to Cara, a baby daughter he did not know about. Cara’s mother, with whom Micah casually hooked up just before he changed his lifestyle, died in a car accident, and her grandparents can’t raise her.
Micah feels overwhelmed at the prospect of raising a child but he has an extra apartment that is attached to his house and after she displays competence and care with Cara he offers Alice a deal: Live in the apartment rent-free, and receive additional wages, in return for working part time as Cara’s nanny, on top of her secretarial position.
Alice agrees and the job throws her and Micah into close proximity. Alice’s feelings for Micah begin to rekindle, but she is gun-shy and determined to stick to her rules, as well as uncertain because of Micah’s distance. Can baby Cara and the renewal of spring bring Micah and Alice together?
I really enjoyed A Baby for Easter. In some ways it’s similar to a good category romance, but the characters issues are viewed through the lens of their faith and that gives it another dimension. The novel is set during Easter and there is a theme of renewal / resurrection that was woven through.
But most of the book is about the romance between Alice and Micah. This was a lovely relationship because time was taken with the emotional beats of the romance. Not a step was missed and it’s also a poignant romance because both characters are strong but somehow also a little fragile.
The book is written entirely from Alice’s POV, so for a long time, we don’t know the reason for Micah’s coolness. I loved that the cause wasn’t what I expected it to be.
I liked that Micah and Alice were ordinary people, without wealth or superpowers. Baby Cara was also a believable character in that she wasn’t always well-behaved and cute. Sometimes she screamed and cried, like babies often do in real life, but not always in books.
I appreciated that although caring for Cara brought Micah and Alice together, their romance didn’t feel like it was about child care. It was about taking slow, hesitant steps toward trusting their hearts and by doing so, finding the way to one another.
What was fascinating to me was that due to their religion, the characters looked at things differently than I would. So for example what I saw as a psychological conflict they would term a crisis of faith. Once in a rare while they’d express views that are very different from mine, almost alien to me, and although I never felt proselytized to, those moments were jarring.
For example, at one point, Alice says “God doesn’t give us things because we deserve them. He gives them because he loves us.” This jarred me because I prefer a worldview where we’re all worthy and deserving to one where none of us are. However, I understand that the characters’ viewpoint is different from mine.
My other complaint is that the ending felt awkwardly paced. There was a scene that I thought was the end of the book, but then came another scene afterward. So then I thought that must be the end, but then there was an epilogue. This was the rare epilogue that I really liked, so I’m glad it was there, but I still thought the ending felt stretched out.
Overall I really liked this book, even better than Daniel and Jessica’s story. I feel that a reader doesn’t have to be Christian to be able to enjoy it. B-/B.