Maybe Baby
by Lani Diane Rich
(Warner, $6.50, PG) ISBN 0-446-61578-1
***
I enjoy romantic comedy, but I tend to prefer an emphasis on the romance rather than the comedy. Lani Diane Richís Maybe Baby has a fairly even mix of the two. The comedy is of the caper variety, moving quickly from one situation to the next. This makes for a fun read, but it also left me wishing for more time between adventures so the romance could be stronger.

Six years before the book begins, Dana Wiley left Nick Maybe standing at the altar as she ran from the church. Although she loved him, she was terrified of having a relationship as dysfunctional as that of her parents, and to Dana, marriage embodies that dysfunction. Six years to the day after Dana ran out on Nick, she realizes that she made a horrible mistake. She should have done things differently, but she fears that itís too late.

Nick hasnít seen Dana since she ran out of the church, but he has remained in touch with Danaís mother, Babs. He has done odd jobs (and I do mean odd) for Babs. Now he plans to move to California. Before Nick leaves, Babs asks him to help with one more favor. One of her friends wants him to steal a bird temporarily. He agrees, but when he goes to take the bird as arranged, he discovers that someone else has beaten him to it.

The bird turns out to be a rare Kakapo worth a quarter million dollars. Several people want to get their hands on the bird, and Babs ends up being kidnapped over it. Dana and Nick team up to find the bird and exchange it for Babs.

Thatís just the beginning. Lani Diane Rich creates a lively story with Maybe Baby. Itís so lively, in fact, that summarizing even the first part of the book is a challenge. The characters are equally vivid. It doesnít take long for the reader to get to know Nick, Dana, Babs, and several secondary characters. The primary characters, Dana and Nick, are well-rounded as well as vivid.

The story moves easily from one scenario to the next. Just when one problem is resolved, another one develops. This type of storytelling certainly keeps a reader interested, but I found myself wishing things would slow down a little to allow more development in the romance.

While the characters seem very real, the romance could have been stronger. The plot ensures Nick and Dana will see each other again and spend time together. However, itís clear early in the story that they still love and want each other. The conflict isnít whether they love each other, but whether Dana will trust Nick enough to marry him in spite of her fears. Their chemistry is strong, but at times the twists in the plot seem like an excuse to keep the romance conflict going.

Even if the romance isnít as strong as Iíd hoped, Lani Diane Rich has an enjoyable voice. If youíre looking for romantic comedy, you may like Maybe Baby. It is a light, enjoyable read.

--Alyssa Hurzeler


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