Santa Baby by Lisa Marie Altom
(Harl. Amer. #1043, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-75047-1
***
One night of wild sex when two people think they are going to die leads to a pregnancy. Since it happened on Christmas Eve, the child is a Santa Baby. This story set in Alaska is heartwarming and generally fun. It does engage the reader, but predictable behaviors by the lead pair keep the story from being even better.

Whitney Foster is a sociologist trying to make a name for herself in the field she loves. So she heads to Alaska from Chicago on Christmas Eve to do some surveys about life in the oilfields. Her own life is fine, but she has no reason not to go. Her mother has another new husband (number 7 by Whitney's count) and she hasn't seen her father since he deserted them when she was very young. Determined never to marry, especially since she had one very unsettling romance, she is set on making her career her life. What she doesn't anticipate is a plane crash on her way to the oilfields, fearing she will die and one bush pilot named Colby Davis.

Colby is the product of a broken home, too. His dad left when he was in his younger years and he is determined to marry, have a family and show the world how to be a good father. Only problem is, he lives in Alaska and the only girl he came close to marrying didn't like Alaska. So he is content, but hasn't given up hope. When his Cessna sputters and crashes with his passenger in a storm, he fears that this may be his last trip. Upon discovering that Whitney is an "almost virgin" he succumbs to her pleas to show her a good time before they die. And a good time in a down sleeping bag in the back of the plane is had by all, until the rescue crew made up of Colby's buddies finds them in the flesh, so to speak. Embarrassed, they part with fond memories and not much conversation.

It is now July and Whitney returns to the wilds to notify Colby that he is going to be a father in just a few months. She doesn't want to marry; she just wants him to know. After all, she happily announces throughout the tale, marriages don't last, especially those caused by pregnancy. Immediately Colby starts making wedding plans and discovers he has a week to convince Whitney to marry him before she returns to Chicago. The majority of the story is the time they spend together.

Nicknaming the baby “Nick”, after the fact that he was conceived on Christmas Eve, the two set out to stay friends, with one refusing to discuss marriage and the other trying to convince her that this is the only chance at making a family they may ever have. Colby is at times sentimental, romantic, adolescent, male and endearing. Overall very likable and the type of husband many women would love to have. Whitney is sweet, caring, romantic and stubborn. She is determined she is right, and no arguments from Colby or his friends will convince her otherwise.

Alaska in the summer is the setting, and yet, the author even acknowledges in her opening letter that she took liberty with some of the weather, downplaying some of the less than wonderful conditions like mosquitoes. But the beauty and starkness come through along with the camaraderie of the people and love of the land.

The fun part of the story is Whitney and Colby getting to know each other, their interactions and sexual innuendo that they throw back and forth and the budding romanticism of their relationship. The downside of the story is the continued obstinacy and determination from Whitney that love is nonsense and no man will ever keep his commitment. This belief leads to the conclusion that since she is falling for Colby and since Colby couldn't possibly love her, then she will quit before she and the baby get hurt. Maybe I have read this plot line too many times, but the bullheadedness gets old fast.

The happy ever after is fun and engaging and overall I enjoyed Santa Baby. But her inflexibility keeps Whitney from being a truly endearing character, thus making the tale only satisfactory.

--Shirley Lyons


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