Nobody's Baby But Mine
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13)
*****
I'm been on a Susan Elizabeth Phillips watch for a new book practically since I closed the pages of her last one. After a wait of almost a year, I was a little apprehensive that all those months of eager anticipation would make the actual read, Nobody's Baby But Mine, disappointing. FAT CHANCE. Her return to a football venue and a "good ole boy" hero is where Phillips shines. Let me state it very clearly: BUY THIS BOOK.

Jane Darlington's biological clock is ticking very loudly and she is desperate for a baby. But as a world-famous physicist, she is very determined to find the perfect father for her child. Jane spent a very unhappy childhood as a child prodigy with an I.Q. of over 180. She is determined that no child of hers will ever go through the torment of feeling as out of place and freakish as she did.

So brainy Jane has an unusual plan to muddle up the gene pool and produce an average baby. To father her child, Jane is looking for someone who is not particularly intelligent. In fact, someone who is, well, actually, rather, er, ...stupid.

She seems to have found the perfect donor in Chicago Stars quarterback Cal Bonner. Sinfully good-looking, athletic, healthy and most of all, seemingly a little slow-witted, Jane becomes involved with his teammates and a football groupie in a hilarious plan to seduce the superstar athlete. (Sort of Slam Bam, thank you sir!)

Cal, who is nearing the end of his All-Pro career, is famous (or infamous) for never becoming involved with a female over the age of twenty-two. Yet, he is intrigued with this somewhat elderly (34) professor. But when he discovers Jane's heartless plan to use and abandon him, he is outraged.

Cal gets his revenge on Jane by forcing her to marry him and accompany him to the mountains of North Carolina where Jane discovers that Cal is a good deal smarter than he seems. The developing relationship between these two strong-willed people who both love to argue is hilarious and touching.

While Nobody's Baby But Mine has some similarities to her award-winner, Heaven, Texas, I liked it even better. Frankly, I would be blissfully happy if Susan Elizabeth Phillips planned books for the remaining members of the Chicago Stars football team. (And Cal's young backup quarterback, introduced in Nobody's Baby But Mine, should be next.)

Without giving too much away, I will admit that I was smiling on page 1 and first laughed out loud on page 24. By the end of the book, I had giggled, snickered, gasped, squirmed, sighed dreamily and cried. What more does anyone want from a book? This is the reason I read romance.

It's too bad I have to start another Susan Elizabeth Phillips watch now. It's very early, but Nobody's Baby But Mine has my early vote for my favorite contemporary of 1997.

--Dede Anderson


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