Baby, Don't Go
by Susan Andersen, contemporary (2000)
Avon, $6.50, ISBN 0-380-80712-2


Memo to Avon: Suggestion for the next Susan Andersen book - Baby, We're Confusing The Heck Out Of Everyone With Our "Baby, Baby, Baby, Babies" So, Baby, It's Time For A New Concept. A mouthful, but I guarantee no one will get confused like many did over Baby I'm Yours, Be My Baby, and now, Baby, Don't Go.

With that out of the way, let's get back on track. Daisy Parker quit the police force a few months back to start her own bodyguard business. She's the best in the business, but somehow she can't find enough cash influx to stay afloat (gee, surprise). This is a woman with gung-ho guerrila fashion sense and who cuts her hair with nail scissors. Just think of Meg Ryan's character in Addicted To Love, really, because underneath all that tough-as-nail facade, you know our gal is one lonely feminine woman ripe for love.

When Nick Coltrane, the same ex-step-brother who initiated her to the an abbreviated hands-on tutorial of the Kama Sutra when she was 19, waltzes back asking for her services - let me rephrase that - protection, she's not too keen. But she needs the money, so she shrugs and sticks by him day and night.

Nick tells her he's being wanted by a jealous cuckolded husband. In truth, he is hounded by a politician (you know how sleazebaggy these people are) whom he snapped examining a young jailbait's private parts. He is about to sell these photos to tabloids in revenge for that politician's scum ruffians beating him up. Okay, that may not be a very acceptable excuse for some readers, so we'll also have him needing the money he would get to bail out his sister who's - with good intentions, of course, and definitely inadvertently - involved in embezzlement of funds.

Would Daisy and Nick ever finish their tutorial? Would Mo, Nick's sister, reconcile with her hubby and learn to submit to her hubby's wisdom?

Jennifer Crusie called Baby, Don't Go "sizzling, snappy, sexy fun". She's got all three right on. Nick's liberal tossing of cupcake, Blondie, baby and other cheap-sounding endearments takes some getting used to (reminds me of those horny, weird high school octopus kids), but he becomes a fun, sexy, irresistible rogue. He's a photographer, so just imagine all sorts of fun one could get into with this man, a camera, and the dark room. His proposal of love is one of the more endearing ever. He uses trite stuff like roses but makes the whole declaration one of the most politically incorrect, funny, charming, and definitely romantic proposal I have ever read.

Likewise, Blondie, er, Daisy is fun, displaying enough guts to make her a match for Nick. I love the way she throws Nick off balance after their first boinking. Honey, it's okay, we're just scratching an itch. She steals the line from Nick, and it's now his turn to suffer like she did eight years ago. Heh heh.

Fun, snappy lines abounds and I have a great time reading. So what's the problem now?

Well, Baby, Don't Go is also very predictable. How do you think Daisy would react when - there's no question of if, really - she finds out about Nick's real motivations of hiring her? She reacted just like 99% of the heroines out there, and I can bet you it's not her saying, "Nicky, that's so-ooo-ooo smart! Good for you, squash that scumbag's balls for me. Say, must we give Mo all the money? Why not keep 15% for ourselves so that we can fly off to Serengeti and see if the gorillas really do it like they show on Discovery Channel?"

Therefore, the whole story turns into nothing more than a comfy series of repartees and sizzling sex, with me just waiting for the inevitable to happen. What that happens, it happens just the way I predicted. Hence Baby, Don't Go is a story that somehow doesn't have a climax. Uhm, better rephrase that. It has no peak. Better rephrase that too. Oh well, it has climaxes and peaks a-plenty, but there's no appropriate pay-off to the build-up of the plot.

And I really don't know what to say about the gay and transvestite buddies of Daisy. It's the Chi Chi syndrome. Somehow it seems that being gay and wearing women's knickers automatically make you a drag queen diva with great fashion sense. Don't bet against these women helping our heroine out in turning her into a Princess Barbie that will knock the hero's undies off. You'll lose.

Baby, Don't Go fulfills its promises as a light, entertaining, sexy - if somewhat slow-paced - romance. But is it too much to ask for an element of unpredictability? Maybe a little more... depth beneath the high neon gloss?

Rating: 84


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