When you read the blurb for this book you can only think one thing: what a stupid farfetched romance plot. Knowing this was a book by an author I already greatly admire, I gave it a shot.
To be fair, the idea of a smart woman in want of a baby picking an outwardly stupid jock to father said baby could have some hilarious potential until they sort themselves out. But the blurb is deceiving, and SEP is a smart lady. The waters in this book run deep.
When you actually start reading and you figure out this is not the story you were thinking to read, you find yourself facing a choice: do I let it suck me in further or do I stand outraged and close the chapter on this one?
I am here to help you with that choice by providing some more information, and my point of view.
Firstly, this book has a similar setting to others in terms of opposites who figure out they have a lot in common. The writing is great, per usual, and gives us an insight into our characters from the first. It relays enough information that we can make up our own mind on what to think. And the primary story is again backlit by another, happening at the same time.
There is where all similarity with the first two books of the Chicago Stars series ends.
Cal Bonner, the Chicago Stars’ quarterback, has recently lost a sister-in-law and a nephew, and at 36 is facing retirement. He has no clue what to do with himself after that, so he refuses to accept reality and clings to the image of youth. Usually with the help of his young girlfriends. But Cal has not been dating for a while, so his teammates decide to gift him with a woman for his birthday. That is where his path crosses hers.
Genius physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington doesn`t just desperately want a baby. She needs love, more precisely, she needs to give it to someone. Ergo, baby. Being a genius screwed her up as a kid, so she needs a dumb man to help her out with balancing out the IQ. A neighbor decides to help.
I will not get into too much detail, because you get everything set up on the first few pages, but the most important thing is that Jane decides to play a hooker, poke holes into the condom and have sex with Cal. If that is so much not your cup of tea, I suggest you don’t read this one. Because, if you cannot get past that, there is no amount of human in this book that is going to make you like it. So don’t do it.
The plan is sordid, SEP even states so herself, Jane thinks it too, but it is too little too late. In the first few chapters the notions of morally or even politically correct are easily dismissed, and the desperation and need in Jane, and aimlessness in Cal are very apparent.
That leads to their first sexual encounter, a farce so clearly a representation of the moral and personal damage they both are inflicting.
From that point on, we get a clear look at the circumstance of their lives, the fight Jane has to go trough on a daily basis, and the denial Cal is living in. Their worlds collide once Cal finds out what she did, and the consequences of their actions catch up with them.
In order for me to fully express my opinion and emotion regarding this book, I would have to go chapter by chapter, so I am not going to try to condense that into spoiler-freeish sentences.
What I will say (or write) is that this book is very much not what the blurb leads you to believe. It is much more human, much deeper, and deals in emotions that are raw and painful for the characters. The set up leaves you asking how. How do the go from here? How do they live now? How do they get to a happy ending?
It is amazing how well SEP deals with the road she landed herself on. There is no rush, no stone left unturned, no forgetting. Each character has a purpose, a voice, a point for being. The setting holds the mirror up to the events, and the events reflect the inner turmoil of the characters.
They deal with the mess they made and the result is believable. So, five points to Gryffindor.