Wow. Ok. This was unexpected. I bought this book on a whim with no real expectation of it. When I downloaded it, I was just going to read the first several pages just to see. An hour later I was reluctantly putting it down to fix dinner.
Gail is a recent widow whose husband and young son died in a car crash two years earlier. She and Crystal are best friends and have been for years. Crystal, who has miscarried five times, is desperate for a child. Although she has explored adoption, she wants a child that is biologically he husband's. She asks Gail to be a surrogate for her and her husband Rashid.
After much thought Gail agrees. Although She, Crystal and Rashid work and think through all the legal implications, all three woefully underestimate the emotional toll the whole thing begins to take.
What I liked best about the book was how, as the pregnancy progressed, each of the three people involved in it, grappled with both the magnitude of what they were doing and how they negotiated the inevitable change in their relationship with each other.
The author has the characters navigate this new and strange position they are all in in very believable ways. Gail is alternately resentful and wary of getting too involved, Crystal is alternately happy and also a little jealous that she
isn't the one who is carrying her husband's child and Rashid narrows his focus onto getting the child born healthily, blind to the emotions of both women. All of this makes for a great plot-driven story that also manages to be strongly character focused as well.
Because this is a romance novel and Gail is the heroine it is a no-brainer to realize that giving up her child probably isn't in the cards. And since this is biologically her and Rashid's kid the other no-brainer is assuming she and Rashid will somehow end up together. The problem and conflict here is how does that happen and how does the author make it palatable for the reader given that Rashid and Crystal are very much (happily) married when the book begins.
I had some ideas how she'd make that happen. As it is, my idea was dead wrong and I couldn't have been happier. Nope, the narrative decisions the author made as the story progressed are what made this story for me. She threw in some twists and created a lot of messy emotional entanglements that I thought made the book richer. It was definitely a page turner, that's for sure.
My biggest problem with the book was Greg. He enters the story as a co-worker of Gail's who has been interested in her for years and finally lets her know that his light flirting for the past few years hasn't just been light flirting. He and Gail begin to date and get serious while she is pregnant. She fully discloses what is going and and he acts very well as a sounding board for her. I just didn't buy him emotionally. I thought he was too good be true. There was a point when he made what should have been a heart wrenching decision and I didn't feel any angst or real hurt or regret from him. He felt too matter of fact and I couldn't reconcile his actions with what he was supposed to be feeling. In the end though, his ultimate character arc worked really quite well in the book.
Great book. Highly recommended.