I enjoyed Baby, Baby but this absorbing, well-constructed sequel is an even better read. The characters we began to get to know in the first book become deeper and more complicated – more true to life, in fact – as the stresses of juggling family, marriage, career and emotional baggage start to tell on Jenny and Max. Even Daze, who in Baby, Baby came across as the difficult, resentful foil to her stepsister Jenny’s good nature, develops a much rounder personality, her childhood trauma making her more sensitive to others’ problems; while ironically it’s Jenny who is blinded by selfishness, at least for a while. So often child characters can give a book a cloying touch, their cute expressions and lack of inhibition designed to ‘lighten’ the atmosphere with obvious humour – but not here. Alice and Zoe, Max and Jenny’s children, are beautifully realised characters in their own right, not drawing attention to themselves, fitting into the story exactly as they should. The conflicts begun in Baby, Baby of religious fundamentalism versus tolerance, scientific progress in genetics and fertility against the risks of new procedures, are more relevant than ever, and Mari Howard does an expert job of weaving these themes into her story without ever letting them weigh it down. In her wonderful, accurate portrayal of the different strands of Christianity, she shows how faith and science don’t need to be mutually exclusive (whatever the Richard Dawkins camp may say): all that is needed is openness to new ideas and the willingness to admit one might have got things wrong. A refreshing message, if ever there was one!