The Accidental Marriage by Roger B. Thomas
A lesbian couple in San Francisco decides to have a baby but money is tight. Diane, who really wants the baby, convinces Megan to have the baby. To save on the artificial insemination fees, Megan's gay friend Scott volunteers to donate sperm and she'll use an at-home kit to "plant the seeds." The first two times don't work so they engage in some au naturel insemination. Diane quickly finds out and things spiral out of control. She cuts Megan off from her health benefits; Scott wants to put her on his but that requires kicking off his current partner Greg AND Scott and Megan need to be legally married for her to get his benefits. Sounds like the premise for a bawdy Hollywood sex farce, right? In unimaginative hands, that's probably what this story would have been. But not in Roger Thomas's hands.
The book is much more discreet, sensitive, and honest. The situation isn't played for laughs; it's a serious look at how two people deal with the weird situations our modern culture generates. Scott and Megan are real people struggling with their decisions and trying to balance helping others with taking care of themselves. The story is told mostly from Scott's perspective and in the early chapters mostly through lunchtime conversations between Scott and Megan. Diane never appears directly and Scott's partner has only a scene or two. The big sex scene has minimal description and delivers the awkwardness of what's going on quite well.
Amazingly, that's only the first third or quarter of the story. Things fall apart at work for Megan and then for Scott and they are forced to drive back to Scott's hometown in Michigan, a trip and destination full of hardships and heartaches. I was curious to see where the story would go. Their recoveries from hardships seem a little too easy at times. The ending was not so surprising (especially given the title of the book) but was satisfying, mostly because Scott and Megan are interesting and real people. Sometimes their conversations felt a little too "on the nose," that is, they would describe and interpret what was going on when a reader could figure it out for themselves. Maybe we need to have those conversations anyway. Overall, it's an enjoyable book.
This book was given to me as a review copy in e-book format by Ignatius Press. All the asked for in return was a review. The opinions expressed are my own.