Tennant Rowe and Jared Madsen have nearly everything they could want. Ten has all but fully recovered from the brutal brain injury he suffered on the ice and both men have stable careers with the Harrisburg Railers. Still, something is missing: a child to call their own. Of course they have Ryker, Jared’s son from a previous marriage, but both men want a baby. So they begin the surrogacy process and, through a brutal hockey season, they experience the highs and lows of waiting for their child to arrive. But nothing is ever quite as easy as it seems and between a potential trade that could send Jared to another team and the early arrival of the newest Madsen-Rowe, Tennant and Jared must hang on tight and hope for a happily ever after.
Baby Makes Three is the latest in the Harrisburg Railers series and the second of their Christmas novellas. You don’t have to have read the entire series, but you do have to be familiar with Ten and Jared’s story thus far. There’s too much relationship history to try and pick this one up as a newbie to the series.
Baby Makes Three is the somewhat predictable next step in Jared and Ten’s story. I say predictable only because it always seemed obvious that these two were destined to become parents. That said, this novella rushes the experience and does a disservice to the reader and the characters.
Jared and Ten are the heart and soul of the Harrisburg Railers series. More than any other couple, we’ve had the chance to see them grow into their relationship and find real love. But the journey towards having a baby felt rushed and sort of humdrum. The entire nine months is a blip, with only a few scenes getting a page or two for deeper exploration. Even the birth of said baby feels like just a plot point that lacks real connective emotion. I was disappointed because having read the entire series so far, I’m quite attached to Ten and Jared and I wanted this particular event to be a meaningful one. I realize this is a novella and by its very nature will be a quick read, but it could have been done more evenly and with more heart.
There are a few moments of tension, but even these were cavalierly handled, especially the issue of prematurity, an issue that’s close to my heart because my nephew was born extremely premature. None of the agony and fear and hope that comes with having a preemie really comes through here. Admittedly, the Madsen-Rowe baby is only a few weeks premature, but if you’re going to introduce that kind of serious topic, then I feel like you have to do some justice by it and that doesn’t happen here. As a result, it felt rather unnecessary to the actual story. Other readers may disagree, but I just wanted a more realistic portrayal of this particular parental challenge.
On the whole, Baby Makes Three was a weaker entry into the Harrisburg Railers canon. While it was good to visit with Ten and Jared again, I felt the story was hurried and there wasn’t enough exploration of key plot points. Even for a novella, Baby Makes Three was underdeveloped and I wanted more for characters who have been through so much.