I just finished my 10th book for the month of July. Man, I just tear right through 'em when I ain't reviewing 'em. Go figure.
The Midwife's Secret by Kate Bridges is a Harlequin Historical title from 2003. Bridges is one of those authors who has scores of books in my TBR - yet this is the first one I've read. I have a nasty habit of doing that. Collecting backlists before I even read one book.
This one was pretty good, and blessedly Bridges avoids one of Wendy's Huge Pet Peeves. More on that in a bit.
Amanda Ryan is looking to start over, so she buys a small piece of property and moves to Banff, Alberta Canada. While her grandmother thinks she should be honest with their new neighbors, Amanda isn't real keen on her past getting out. See, she's divorced. Her no-good, rotten husband dumped her after their baby was born stillborn and Amanda became barren. Also, Amanda is a midwife - and her perspective patients might be slightly turned off by the idea of a divorced, barren midwife. Go figure.
Tom Murdock runs the local sawmill and has just learned that his no-good partner has swindled him. With no money left in his accounts, he's scrapping by just trying to make payroll. Then Amanda shows up waiving around a deed to a property he owns! At least, he used to own it.
Tom and Amanda eventually set the matter somewhat to rights and she hires him to build her a cabin on her new property. He agrees, and quickly becomes entranced by this strong, independent woman. But what will happen when he learns The Midwife's Secret?
Blessedly, Bridges doesn't drag this secret out for the whole novel. It's pretty much out in the open by page 50, which gives the characters a chance to work through it, fall in love and live happily ever after. There's also the small matter of the external conflict - Tom's wayward girlfriend and his swindling business partner.
What I loved about this book is Bridges makes her heroine truly barren. One of my major pet peeves is when the heroine just thinks she's barren/infertile, then the hero comes along, slips her the big one and viola! She's knocked up thanks to the hero's incredible super sperm!
Admittedly, I'm more forgiving of this kind of nonsense in historicals since women's reproductive health is a modern concept - but man, I just hate it when it crops up in contemporaries. It's like the author is pushing the agenda that You're Not A Real Man Unless You Knock Up A Woman. Or You're Not A Real Woman Unless You're Squirting Out Babies Every Year.
Hate it, hate it, hate it.
Can you tell I really dislike this theme?
But Bridges' heroine doesn't have a uterus - so there are no miracle babies in this story. Thank Gawd. Instead, the characters are left to deal with this fact.
So thank you Ms. Bridges for not insulting my intelligence. I love it when authors don't do that.