Maybe Baby
by Lani Diane Rich, contemporary (2005)
Warner, $6.50, ISBN 0-446-61578-1


I've heard some good buzz about Lani Diane Rich since she came out with her chick-lit debut Time Out For Good Behavior. With me naturally being a miserly old coot who hesitates to splurge big bucks on trade-sized paperbacks, I hold back and reserve judgment until I get my hands on Ms Rich's romance title Maybe Baby instead. The impression I get from reading this book is that either this is a young-adult novel published as a romance to capitalize on Ms Rich's buzz, Meg Cabot style, or the hero and the heroine really have the mental and emotional capacity of two silly teens who treat their issues of Archie as the bible on life and love.

Six years ago, Dana Wiley walked away from the altar and left her boyfriend Nicholas James Maybe due to commitment jitters. She might have changed her mind if she didn't catch him in a compromising position with her nemesis Melanie Biggs. Nick didn't do the wazoo with Melanie but he let Dana assume the worst because he was mad at her. Yes, people, this is a Big Misunderstanding story. A "Gee, Why Can't We Talk, Dear?" tale. With the added bonus of the heroine coming off like a more demented Ally McBeal wannabe. Maybe Baby? Definitely wacko.

Nick and Dana have their paths crossed when contrivance decides to push in motion two simultaneous chain of events to bring this into motion. Dana, a woman who can just stand there and blank out the world as she argues, talks, and whines about her sorry life with herself (it's too bad she doesn't do this in the middle of a busy highway), is running her late father's vineyard to the ground. Gee, I wonder how that can be. I suspect that her inability to string a rational thought may have something to do with it. She then runs to her estranged mother to beg her to co-sign a loan with her.

Babs Wiley left her alcoholic husband for greener pastures but she left her daughter behind (I guess Dana's idiocy embarrassed even her) so now she is happy that she can finally make amends with Dana. You see, Dana has been spuring Babs' overtures and even cutting her off, and this charming lady is now asking Babs for help while calling herself all sorts of names for doing so. Meanwhile, Nick has been in contact with Babs because he feels guilty of what happened between him and Dana (but of course, he insists that he and Dana can never be again so he will NEVER call Dana and talk) so when Dana shows up, Nick is there too. Meanwhile, Babs has asked Nick to help her friend get rid of an expensive Kakapo bird and this bird vanishes, causing the owners of the bird to kidnap Babs and ask for the Kakapo as ransom. Nick and Dana are forced to be in close proximity for a little longer yet.

While I really enjoy the madcap and farcical adventures those two get into, I honestly cringe whenever Nick and Dana address their relationship. Or rather, do childish things like misinterpreting each other's actions and jumping into the silliest conclusions ever (such as, oh no, he hates her, sob sob! She hates him now, boo hoo!). These two speak and act like very immature children and they truly grate on my nerves after a while because the author's attempts to keep them in Archie-and-Betty mode are pretty transparent and therefore obviously contrived. While Nick is silly, poor Dana has the added handicap of being a completely addled, self-absorbed, borderline demented whackjob who needs to see a shrink or at least get addicted to mood stabilizers.

I can see myself enjoying this author's style very easily, but hopefully the characters in her next book will be a little more adult.

Rating: 67


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