cover image Empty Cradle

Empty Cradle

Karen Harper. Signet Book, $6.5 (394pp) ISBN 978-0-451-19482-4

There are a lot of controversial issues surrounding in vitro fertilization, but romantic suspense may not be the best forum in which to discuss those issues--at least not this one. Albuquerque, N.Mex., anchorwoman Alexis McCall goes to the Evergreen Reproductive Health Clinic near Santa Fe to have implanted eggs that have been fertilized by the frozen sperm of her husband, who was killed during the Gulf War. But it turns out that Dr. Jasmine Stanhope, a feminist embryologist and codirector of Evergreen, is stealing the eggs of her patients and using them in experiments with a drug that can cause birth defects. Alexis works hard to preserve the ""babies"" implanted in her womb while she searches for evidence against the clinic; runs from various jealous wives, unhappy husbands and lunatic killers; and pursues a new love affair with Nick Destin, the Marlboro-man-type rugged owner of a Santa Fe art gallery. The elements here never jell, a problem that isn't helped by some imprecise editing, for example, is it Nick or Alexis who's thinking, ""If he had one brain in his head, now that her husband's embryos were in, he'd be on his way out for good."" (Apr.)