Pregnant on the Upper East Side?

Emilie Rose
November 2008, Series Romance
Silhouette Desire #1903, $4.75, 192 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373769032
Part of a series

Grade: C
Sensuality: Warm

Pregnant on the Upper East Side? was the latest stop on my personal brain candy express (after I read Three Cups of Tea last month I somehow needed to balance it out with more frivolous offerings). Well, frivolous I wanted, and frivolous I got. This book is about as light and fluffy as you'd expect from the title.

Amanda Crawford grew up as a pampered Manhattan socialite, but in her heart she really wants to prove that she can make it on her own. She has her own party planning business, and she'd really like to see it succeed. Unfortunately, she trusted an ex-boyfriend who stole from the company, and now she's on shaky financial ground.

Millionaire lawyer Alex Harper has had his eye on Amanda for months, but she keeps shooting him down, in no small part because she's had such bad luck with men, and doesn't trust her judgment or her hormones. Finally Alex figures out that the way to Amanda's heart is through her business. He hires her to plan a party for his employees, and helps her with some money and financial advice. Naturally, he plans to segue right into sleeping with her.

Predictably, Amanda starts sleeping with him. When they start out, both plan for it to be a temporary affair. Even if Amanda could set aside the doubts about her own judgment, she doesn't think she wants a real relationship at this point in her life. Alex doesn't think he wants a permanent relationship at all. Even though he has happily married parents and friends, he also has a nasty, money-grubbing ex, so he never wants to have give anyone that power over him again. But Amanda and Alex find that their relationship is quickly becoming more serious. Despite their protestations to the contrary, it's not just sex. While they are trying to face that reality, they also experience outside complications. A blackmailer targets Alex, and he isn't sure whether he can trust Amanda. Amanda, on the other hand, has issues with her parents, and (as you might guess from the title) a possible pregnancy.

This book is part of a series called Park Avenue Scandals; all the stories feature people who live at 721 Park Avenue, an exclusive building. When I picked it up, I was kind of hoping for a grown-up version of Gossip Girl. It wasn't, but that wasn't a big deal in the scheme of things. Although there are comments here and there about characters from other apartments/books, as well as a murder mystery that apparently ties all the books together, this book definitely stands alone. That said, I thought the killer was obvious, even after reading only one book in the series. I also thought that anyone having sex in this building should use about six condoms at once, because accidental pregnancies run rampant.

This particular story is a mixed bag. I liked Amanda, whose relationship reticence seemed well-founded given her past. She's not easily won over by Alex's persistent courting, which is also a mark in her favor. When she does enter a relationship, she does it on her own terms. Alex, however, was harder to warm up to. I found his determined bachelorhood both irritating and unbelievable. It may sound as if Amanda gets a free pass for relationship avoidance, while Alex gets taken to task. But Amanda isn't set on avoiding marriage forever; she's merely focusing on other parts of her life at present. Alex doesn't plan to marry anyone, ever, just because of one bad experience. And unlike Amanda, he has happily married parents.

In the end this is just okay. I've read worse, and I've read better - and I'd probably recommend Pregnant on the Upper East Side? only to those who are following the series and want to read every book. And though it may be a borderline spoiler, I also feel compelled to mention that the question posed by the title is not answered here.

-- Blythe Barnhill

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