In Irresistible Forces, Danielle Steel revisits one of her familiar plot hooks: the difficulties created when one party in a marriage wants children and the other doesn’t.
Here the high-power, happily married couple are Steve and Meredith Whitman. Steven is a surgeon in a New York City trauma hospital; Meredith is a Wall Street investment banker. Both are dedicated to their jobs, work long hours, consider themselves happily married.
Steve wants kids. Meredith doesn’t.
Meredith is arranging an IPO for a California tech firm, which means spending a lot of time on the road in the US and Europe with Callan Dow, the firm’s founder and CEO.
Callan is attractive, rich, divorced, with two kids. He tells Meredith that her unwillingness to have a child means she isn’t committed to her marriage. That rattles her, but she ignores it.
After the IPO is a success, Callan offers Meredith a job. Steve urges her to take it; he’ll find a job in California and they can have a baby.
Steel pairs both Meredith and Steve off with new partners.
It’s left to some other novelist to write the story of how both Meredith’s and Steve’s second marriages fail, which they surely will.
In Mixed Blessings, Danielle Steel splits her attention among three couples and their decisions to have or not have children.
One couple are young, hard-driving professionals in glamorous jobs. She wants a baby desperately and immediately; he thinks she should relax and let nature take its course.
The second couple are a lawyer in her 40s and a judge in his early sixties. She’s never had the least interest in babies until her stepdaughter has one.
The third couple are lower-class. The man, an orphan, wants babies to love because he never had love. The woman doesn’t want babies because they mean families and she hated hers.
Steel has one or more of the spouses in each couple to visit ob-gyn specialists, and treats readers to the details of the 1990s examination procedures.
None of Steel’s characters is fully developed, which may be for the best. The women are all immature and silly. Like a bunch of fifth graders, they scream, “That’s not fair” when things don’t go their way. And like fifth graders, upon reflection, they conclude that things don’t turn out the way you planned.
Steel herself philosophizes, “Fertility as well as infertility can be a mixed blessing.”