Apologies in advance if I am insulting someone’s favourite SEP!
Susan Elizabeth Phillips had been recommended to me as someone to read if you loved Jennifer Crusie, and I really love Crusie. (I keep rereading Bet Me, which I should go back and upgrade to a five on my previous reviews. And Manhunting. All the Crusies get reread about every six months. Anyway!)
The problem is, I should have read the recommendations more carefully to see that the latter ones are amazing, but the earlier ones can be problematic. Natural Born Charmer and Match me if you can were the first two I read, and I loved them, really really loved them. So then, like an addicted fool wanting more and not heeding advice, I went back further to grab another SEP, and got a doozy.
Jane is a PhD, lonely, brainy, and desperate for a baby. So when her creepy next door neighbour finds her crying on her birthday, and Jane confesses all, these two come together with a plot. (This neighbour is trying to sleep with all the players on a football team, btw, and gets involved in the story because some creepy players decide they want Cal to shag a woman so he’ll cheer up, and promise to get the neighbour one of her remaining jersey numbers if she’ll set it up. I’m sorry, I know this is slut shaming, but I find it bizarre in the extreme for someone to try to collect jersey numbers. That is not sex for fun, that’s an extreme form of stamp collecting. It’s all actually awful, the more you think about it.)
Jane has decided she wants a really dumb, but physically excellent, baby-daddy, and seeing Cal being interviewed, thinks he’s ideal. The neighbour sets it all up. Jane rocks up to be Cal’s “birthday present”, pretending at first to be a hooker and then an obsessive fan, and seduces Cal.
Now, this book is from 1997, and it’s amazing how much the world has changed. The thought of a woman sabotaging a condom to get a guy, lying all the time, and some graphic and not very enjoyable sex descriptions are just not what I want out of my romance novels anymore. There are waaaay too many books around these days with unexpected rape scenes, which crop up in the oddest of places (crime novel during Nazi-ism with surprise graphic anal rape scene completely irrelevant to the plot, please step forward!). So when reading the book, I turned my brain off and enjoyed part of the book, namely the couple who bond because they’ve never really had anyone challenge or stand up to them before, and who engage in kinda disturbing prank wars. (The image of a man breaking into his house in a rage to get to his wife is also not comfortable to me.)
But!! It’s not all doom and gloom! The romance between Cal’s parents, who rediscover each other and strip away all the lies built up between them is honestly beautiful. So if you can just read that bit, I would FULLY recommend. As to the rest, I recommend later SEP’s, or at least being cautious if you read this one.