by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

February 1997
ISBN: 0380782340
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

I just love this romance! This is my favorite book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Iíve probably reread it at least six times! This book has everything I want to read in a romance novel plus more.

Beginning with incredibly interesting characters like Cal Bonner, the quintessential football hero weíve all dreamed of, not only an amazing athlete, and beautiful, but with a great flaw, the fact that he canít face growing old. Donít we all love those guys that are forever the Peter Panís? Heís in his thirties and should retire, but heís the ultimate competitor, both on and off the field. Then thereís Jane. Again, I just love this character for her perfection and flaws. On one hand, she is reported to be a brilliant, but lonely nuclear scientist, working feverishly on The Theory of Everything, who desires a baby so badly that she tricks Cal into believing sheís a groupie of the football team and sleeps with him twice to get pregnant. The twist is, she wants a normal child with a normal IQ, and she thinks Cal is a moron because he plays football, hence, an average IQ. Thatís not her only mistake, as we discover; Cal is not stupid. Then she thinks he wonít care that sheís gotten pregnant, but she finds out that sheís picked the wrong football player in more ways than one. The baby is his, too, and he takes Jane to his southern home to wait out the pregnancy and the press when they discover the most eligible Chicago Stars football player has married a professor.

There are so many great scenes where Susan exploits Calís need for competition with his reluctant bride. Jane is always one up on Cal, though, and itís his brawn vs. her brains. Like the time Miss Big Brain locks him out of the house and he enjoys the challenge of climbing over the roof to break in, or when he sees her drivers licence and learns her real age, or when she messes with his Lucky Charms cereal and the bar fight between Cal and Kevin, just to name a few. And the anticipation of when Cal will actually see his wife naked leaves you turning the pages. Thereís page after page of newlywed discovery under the most humorous circumstances. I love the banter between the characters, especially the way he tries to talk tough to her and she is wise to his firecracker temper as all bluff.

The secondary characters are a roar, too, from Kevin, who thankfully we see again in my second favorite book, This Heart of Mine, who is the young perfect quarterback replacement. He follows Cal to Salvation, North Carolina, and seeks Calís professional help but falls for the beautiful Jane Bonner and is adopted by the rest of the female family. There is Amber Lynn, Calís mother, and we learn of her courage as she raised Cal from a mere child herself, with Calís father, Jim, who became a doctor and took care of a young family. I especially will never forget the character of Annie, Calís rifle toting maternal grandmother who lives on Heartache Mountain, and has the reasoning of the wisest of men with the plainest of speech. All she wants to do is be left alone with her Harry Connick Jr. music (great taste in music!) and country garden.

I love how this tale takes the reader from the motel room to the classroom to the country with simple pleasures like resting in the sun while your baby grows inside you as the most important thing in life. The wholesome theme of family love is clear on so many levels that this story is truly refreshing in a world where people sometimes treat new life like an inconvenience.

Ms. Phillips never fails to disappoint with her intelligent, witty, endearing characters, and seemingly implausible situations. Her plot twists are constantly fresh and surprising, and in many situations I found myself roaring with laughter so many times I lost count. Ainít nobody who does it better than Susan!

I supremely recommend this book, and like the fan that I am, eagerly await her next. So if youíre like me, this book wonít make it to your keeper shelf, it will remain in your nightstand!

Reviewed in April 2003 by Suemarie.

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