The Badge and The Baby
by Alison Kent
(Harl. Tempt. #741, $3.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25841-0
The Badge and The Baby is Alison Kent's contribution to Temptation's Bachelors & Babies miniseries. It's also her contribution as one of the hottest and best reads of the summer.

Cop Joel "The Big Bad Wolf" Wolfsley is antsy. He's on enforced medical leave until his leg heals. He's ready to go back on duty, but his doctor wants the leg to heal more. A whacked out drug dealer shot Joel in the leg AND then ran over the same leg with his car. Those two injuries have combined to slow down even The Big Bad Wolf. He'll be in a cast and using a cane for at least a few more weeks.

Thirty-four-year old Joel, the only male and oldest Wolfsley, has four younger sisters. His love for his family is a constant in his life. When one sister asks -- begs, really -- for him to babysit his ten-month-old niece Leigh, he agrees. He's thinking, "Sure, it'll only be for one night.” Wrong!

Joel will be keeping Leigh for at least a week. The first problem he encounters is his doctor's appointment the next day. He can't take Leigh, so he enlists the aid of his nearest neighbor, Willa Darling.

Willa, a no-nonsense, straightforward woman, has been interested in Joel. Willa, who boards dogs, is feminine without all the frills. Joel can't help but notice how fit she is. Anybody'd have to be dead not to notice Joel's gorgeous body and potent sexuality, but nothing's ever come of Willa's interest. That's because Joel has a basic rule, and he's never broken it, never gonna.

He's a cop-first, foremost and always. He's going to remain unattached, period. That way nothing can interfere with his concentration on his job. Sure, we women know that's a screwy attitude, but nobody ever said that men were logical.

Willa soaks up her time with baby Leigh. For the week that Joel has Leigh, they enjoy the fantasy of the perfect family.

The Badge and The Baby is a metamorphosis story. Joel has convinced himself for years that in order to be an effective cop, he's got to remain single. Willa has known for years that an incident in her past would probably cause her to remain unattached herself. Both are forced to reevaluate lifelong held beliefs.

Alison Kent uses dialog that's lively and sparkling, part innuendo, part persuasive and all seductive. Joel is near the edge, sexually speaking.

"If I don't get inside you and quick, I'm afraid I'm gonna go off." "Are you saying we may be dealing with an accidental shooting?" "Does the term ‘weapon misfire' mean anything to you?"

In addition to dialogue that's great to read, here's a descriptive passages that's right on the money in describing baby Leigh during a dinner scene.

"The queen of Cuisinart had squashed each bean into a pulp of green strings against the high-chair tray, mashed already mashed potatoes between her fingers, sucked a crust of bread until she'd turned it into glue and dreadlocked half the hair on her head."

Isn't that dead on in its accuracy of small children and their hands-on feeding habits?

Combine high energy, sexually explosive scenes and a tender love story. You end up with a story that's 99 and 44/100% guaranteed to make your summer reading sizzle.

--Linda Mowery

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