Oct 1 2011 1:00pm

Adopted Babies Are a Well-Used Trope; Robin Wells and Jill Shalvis Use It Well

Annie posterNot all adoption dramas end in song, dance, fireworks, and with our own personal Daddy Warbucks. Romance readers expect more. Do they want tried and true tropes? Um, well yes, but at least change it up a bit. Put a new spin on that old twist!

What is more dramatic than the once hot and bothered teenage hormone-laced lovers reuniting when the evidence of their passion—said offspring—emerges from the shadows? Oh, the baby mama and papa drama! And there is lots of drama with a plot line like this. The biological blast from the past keeps the hero and heroine in close proximity, all the while reminding them of that one time when the earth shattered, time stood still, mountains moved, and Bruce Willis beat out all the other tadpoles upstream. Hey-oh!

Then there’s the guilt of giving up a child, from one or both parties. The aftermath of that alone is enough to fuel a novel. That guilt often turns into a form of acceptance for all involved and that usually has Mama and Papa doing the horizontal mambo again.

Adoption story lines have all the drama pre-fabricated and ready to go. It’s the author’s craft of storytelling that will set their novels apart.

Two tales come to mind that took the simple been there done that plot device and made it fresh, passionate, and pulled on the old heart-strings a wee bit. I love when a book makes me sigh, cry, and ha-cha-cha!

Still the One by Robin WellsIn Robin Wells’s RITA-nominated tale, Still The One, widowed Katie Charmaine’s world stops when Zack, her first love, returns with a little extra baggage—the kid she gave up for adoption and never told him about. The kid’s adopted parents were killed in a car crash and she is orphaned once again. And she’s only 16. And she is preggers herself. 

Katie and Zack grow close once again while trying to save their daughter. Zack doesn’t really believe in love and Katie can’t let go on the memory of her husband long enough to give love a second chance. But, as with any good romance, love finds a way…here’s the blurb:

After Katie Charmaine’s husband is killed in Iraq, all she has left is a closet full of his clothes, a few pictures, and fond memories. She not only lost her love, but her last chance to have the children she’s always wanted. Until Zack Ferguson shows up in town...with the daughter Katie gave up for adoption nearly seventeen years ago.

Zack Ferguson has never forgotten Katie, or the one magical night they spend together. Seeing her again brings up a tidal wave of emotions: regret over the way he left her, anger at the secret she kept, and desire he hasn’t felt in years. But he’s in town for Gracie. Their daughter is seventeen, angry at the world and....pregnant. She needs the love of her two parents now more than ever. Can these three forgive the hurts of the past and open their hearts to one another?

It sounds like an episode of my gram’s favorite soap opera. Wells unravels this romance in a sweetly heartbreaking and poignant way…and with a little steam, of course. There is even a sigh inducing secondary tale of reunion between Katie’s deceased husband’s parents. 

The Sweetest Thing by Jill ShalvisJill Shalvis’s The Sweetest Thing is the second novel in the Lucky Harbor Series. One summer, Tara meets Ford, a boy who ends up her closest friend and confidante. As angst-ridden teens they form a special bond, one Ford tries to keep platonic. One starry evening the boundaries of friendship get pushed and nine months later Tara pushes out a baby girl. The gut-wrenching choice is made; they give her up for adoption and go their separate ways.

When Tara returns to Lucky Harbor, after burying her mother, there is quite a lot of unfinished business to resolve, much of which has nothing to do with her mother’s estate. As Tara navigates between the past and the present she can’t help but bump into Ford at every turn. When their daughter reappears, distraught over her adoptive parents impending divorce, she hopes to believe that true love still exists and hopes her birth parents are proof. Oh, and add Tara’s ex-husband trying to come and win her back in the mix too.

Two Men Are One Too Many . . . 

Tara has a thousand good reasons not to return to the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Yet with her life doing a major crash-and-burn, anywhere away from her unfulfilled dreams and sexy ex-husband will do. As Tara helps her two sisters get their newly renovated inn up and running, she finally has a chance to get things under control and come up with a new plan for her life.

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered . . . and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she can’t control-especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she’s lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor.

Shalvis really knows how to weave comedy, heart, and my personal favorite—the Ha-cha-cha—into a breathlessly wonderful read.

These are two great tales about that one time someone got some tail and got a little more than they bargained for. Happy breeding…oops…I mean, reading!


Philly native Charli Mac is an aspiring author, mother, wife, friend, and part-time clown. Come find lost love along the Jersey Shore at Twitter her @CharliMacs

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Anna Bowling
1. AnnaBowling
As an adoptee myself, I always find it interesting to see how the adoption triad is handled in fiction.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
The thing I always think when I hear about adoption stories is that the baby/child is a prop--sounds like in these two examples the kids are anything but. Thanks, Charli.
Charli Mac
3. CharliMac
@AnnaBowling If you read these novels, I'd love your opinion. @MFrampton These were really great reads!
4. IWantSawyer
I am going to get Still The One this weekend. I am sold. Also, of course, I loved The Sweetest Thing. I could hear Tara's Southern Drawl seep through the pages. She reminds me of my grandmother. But not the sex parts. Yuck. Also, ofcourse, by this novel I was drooling for Sawyer. Love the most awesome Jill Shalvis for bringing him into my life.
Charli Mac
5. CharliMac
@IWantSawyer Glad you're a fan of Shalvis! And everytime I type your username I think of that hunk Sawyer, so thank you. Yes, Tara rocked this book, ain't she The Sweetest Thing.
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