A quick rundown… Rachel is 35 and single. She wants a baby and she’s prepared to do it alone. This is Rachel’s quest for a child in between BioFathers, crazy bosses and a number of forces conspiring against her.
Strengths: Unpredictable (the book didn’t finish the way I thought it would), enlightening and entertaining.
Weaknesses: What happens next?!
Why I read it: Sent to me by Harlequin Australia – thank you!
Pages: 313 (ARC)
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
The Rules of Conception is a really interesting book that is also unique, as it covers something I’ve never really thought about before. Rachel has hit the big 3-5 and wants a baby. The problem is, her current boyfriend is work preoccupied and trekking obsessed – he’s not even Mr Right for Now. The other men she knows are a bit meh. So what’s a girl to do? Look into having a baby on her own.
I have honestly never realised that there are so many choices involved in getting the Y chromosome – and nor does Rachel. She’s a clever girl, and she does her research into anonymous donors, known donors, co-parenting, Australian donors, overseas donors, gay friends, DIY versus IVF…it’s a minefield. But then Rachel chooses Digby, a man who wants children, but not the messy family entanglement. An agreement is reached (the scenes where Rachel looks for a solicitor are particularly amusing) and Rachel becomes pregnant.
Despite envisaging a pregnancy that is tranquil and blooming, real life doesn’t go that way for Rachel. There’s morning sickness, a truly evil boss, a married friend coming on a bit strong and Digby going AWOL to deal with. Plus there are the reactions to Rachel’s choice to be a single parent for her to contend with. It seems life is much more complicated than ever!
You may think that a novel essentially about conception and pregnancy could be boring, but this isn’t. This book fascinated me as Rachel went through the options to get pregnant – it appears that it’s an opinionated area with many facets to consider, like: what do you tell the child? What, if any, role does the father play? How much access should the father have? Is a sperm donor a father? I can’t promise you that you’ll walk away with definite answers to these questions, but they are dealt with in a caring and unbiased way.
Lawrence’s strength in her characters also makes this novel a winner. She has created what is probably the most heinous boss ever (yes, more so than Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada) in Lyndall, Rachel’s boss. Lyndall is revolting in her bullying actions towards Rachel and I felt physically sick at times when reading her dialogue. Happily, there are lovelier characters in Annabelle, Rachel’s friend/colleague with a penchant for gossip and Digby, her donor – handsome, Canadian and talented. Rachel is also a clever construction in that you can see her growing (not just with baby bump!) from chapter to chapter. She’s the kind of friend you’d love to have.
I thought I knew where this novel was going from the start. You probably do too after you’ve read this description. But let we tell you that there are unexpected events unfolding in the latter part of this book which make it very original and a stand out novel. You’ll laugh, cry and fume with Rachel as she goes down her path to a baby. Kudos to Lawrence for tackling a number of difficult topics in this book with grace and sensitivity – this is a fine book and I eagerly await more from her.