Baby, Baby
by Kylie Adams, contemporary (2002)
Zebra, $6.50, ISBN 0-8217-6939-1

Um, Kylie Adams? A word with you please. What happened to the bitchy, buxom, and trashy Tatitana Fox whom I adore in your novella in The Only Thing Better Than Chocolate? Who kidnapped her and replaced her with this whiny, neurotic... Harlequin Desire thing? Take it away, darling, please. The trash can is over there.

Baby Love is fun because it's set in Hollywood, but unlike other Shirley Temple porn written by other romance authors, Ms Adams isn't afraid to write about the dirty stuff that really makes Hollywood fun. Like Tatiana suggesting that instead of giving the producer a BJ, how about a handjob? She's a mother, you know. Not that she give indiscriminate handjobs in this story, she's just playing with that guy, but that scene is a good sign that Hollywood in Baby, Baby isn't some alternate dimension where Shirley Temple rules and Elizabeth Taylor married only once and is still living happily ever after, and oh yeah, every period piece wins lots of Oscar. In this Hollywood, it's tabloid fun all over again. Cool.

Tatiana is a B-grade movie queen. Her Lady Cop Undercover franchise makes her the T&A queen of the 18-49 male demographics. Now, however, her husband comes out of the closet and leaves her for a Cartoon Network guy, her agent drops her, her kids' nanny resigns, and she's wishing for a chance to do something more than scream-queening around. In comes this movie called Sin By Sin (think Basic Instinct with more beaver shots), and she jumps at it. She gets the role, but first, she has to find a nanny for her twins.

In comes Jack Thorpe, Aussie-via-Manchester United soccer star who is out of luck and out of job. His manager loses all of Jack's money in a series of bad investments, and his Hollywood dream isn't panning out, so he decides to become Tatiana's personal trainer. He will not become her kids' "manny" (it's a man thing), even if those kids are cute, and they keep clinging to his pants, and his tongue keeps sticking out whenever Tatiana is around... damn it, he can't say no after all.

There is a lot of hilarious stuff going on here, but the author seems to have abandoned ship halfway. In fact, she all but jettisons Jack and Tatiana halfway through the story. Those two rarely interact, and in fact, Jack leaves the scene in a huff late into the story at the crucial moment when he should be there to cement the romance. Tatiana is the most boring character in this story by the time the story croaks into its third leg, she being upstaged by her diva best friend and has-been actress September Moore. I love September, and I pray Kylie Adams never give her her own story if that means September will be Harlequin Blazed just like poor Tatiana here.

But the most exhausting aspect of this story is the prominence of Ms Adams' Mary Sue, Enrique. I get this feeling that either Ms Adams wants to sleep with Enrique or be Enrique, because that man can't be more Mary Sue than if Ms Adams put Enrique in a Britney pinafore and gives him blond ponytails. Enrique gets all the best lines, and he cats around more than Brian Kinney of Queer As Folk, and he solves every problem of Jack's and Tatiana's, a super Mary Sue plot device ex machina that becomes tiresome ten minutes into the story. Yes, Enrique is cool, Enrique is Superstud, Enrique is marvelous, Ricky Martin with ten times the hot factor, yadda yadda yadda, I get it, I'm supposed to love him and want to sleep with him, et cetera, but enough is ENOUGH. I'm no longer in high school having the hotties for some rebellious bad boy slut, so can we have some respite from the endless sexual posturings please?

Oh, and one more thing: Manchester United will never play in the World Cup. I should know. I've suffered through countless live telecasts beside my soccer-mad hubby. England, yes, Manchester United, no. Why didn't anyone catch this?

Baby, Baby makes a pleasant, rather amusing romp, but it's not because of the main characters. Like the author, my attention soon shifts towards the antics of the Evil Kiddie Show Woman and September Moore (but alas, not Enrique). When the main characters become wallpaper in their own story, that's a sign of trouble. Maybe if Ms Adams haven't succumbed to making Tatiana "nice" according to the romance novel formula, she may still have some vested interest in her story instead of just clanking out one-liners like a whacked-out stand-up comedian. Baby, Baby just doesn't have the mojo, poor thing.

Rating: 72

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