My unabashed adoration for secret baby romances isn’t something I keep buried behind the bassinet. I’ve even written two of them myself. As a reader I’ve gone through a ton of them, and I have certain expectations:
1. Whatever separated them post-conception can’t sustain the book. There has to be a conflict in the here and now, and his talking to his ex-girlfriend, the bleached blonde Bunny with the very big pom-poms, outside of the Dairy Queen twelve years ago isn’t going to be enough.
2. The reason the heroine flew the baby under the hero’s radar has to be pretty damn good to not lose the readers who don’t think all men are assholes by default.
Some reasons that aren’t good enough:
A. The hero didn’t say the words “I love you” during the conception event.
B. A young man irresponsible enough to have unprotected sex is too irresponsible to be a daddy.
C. She totally misunderstood when he said he was pulling out.
D. He didn’t call her the next day, so she’s not going to share the beautiful miracle he doesn’t deserve.
E. One of my all-time favorites: to save the baby from the wealthy clutches of the hero’s gazillionaire family because they surely won’t accept the heroine once she slurps her soup.
3. The secret baby can’t be so secret the author keeps forgetting to give him or her walk-on roles in the book. The Amnesiac Author’s Disappearing Diapered Device?
4. Secret baby lovers know the story really gets going with the reveal, when the conflicts and emotional tension shoot into the stratosphere. So if your secret baby book is, say, 372 pages and on page 300 I’m still waiting for the hero to learn he’s the Senior to the secret Junior, then A) somewhere around page 130 I started skimming what might have been an otherwise great book and 2) that book mark is still at page 300. At least I assume it is. I set the book down and read two Blazes and an Intrigue.
5. If the hero and heroine are in conflict over a no-longer-secret baby and then accidentally have unprotected sex AGAIN, I begin to hope they, and your hard drive, die.