I Got You, Babe by Jane Graves
(Ivy, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-804119686
**
Renee Esterhaus was arrested for a crime she didn’t commit. Seems someone fitting her description robbed the local convenience store and shot the clerk on duty. It gets worse when the cops find the cash, along with the smoking gun, in the back seat of her car, and the clerk identifies her as the perpetrator. With no alibi, a crummy lawyer, and the fear of going to prison looming on the horizon, Renee leaves Tolosa, Texas.

Naturally, her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and she’s soon picked up by a very nasty looking and persistent bounty hunter. Renee manages to thwart him, and hightails it to a local diner. She has no coat, no ID, no money, and worst of all, no wheels. What’s a girl to do? Proposition a total stranger, of course!

Unfortunately for Renee, she chooses the wrong customer. John DeMarco is a Tolosa police officer that is being forced into a vacation he didn’t want to take. When a wormy criminal managed to get a not-guilty verdict, John took out his frustrations on a bathroom towel dispenser. When a sexy woman seemingly drops from the sky and offers him a night of mind-altering sex, John’s cop instincts tell him that she’s up to no good. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop Mr. Hormonal.

What happens when John finds out who Renee really is, and vice versa? Will the bounty hunter be so easily misled? Moreover, exactly who is framing Renee and why?

Enjoyment of I Got You, Babe hinges solely on how tolerant the reader is of ditzy heroines. Personally, I hate them, which made finishing this book an exercise in self-control. Renee is really stupid. Not only does she run, she does so in a beat-up car that breaks down on her, and then propositions a man she knows nothing about with promises of hot sex. To add insult to injury, she’s blonde. The author tries to explain Renee’s idiocy with stories of an alcoholic mother; her teen years spent committing petty crimes, and ultimately a trip through a prison’s “scared straight” program. I still thought she was a moron.

I was slightly more sympathetic when it came to John. Not only is he an overworked cop with a passion for his job, he’s also living in the shadow of a domineering, now deceased, father. However, my initial opinion of him dampened when he continually allows Renee to jerk him around. Before he becomes emotionally involved with her, Renee lies to him repeatedly and even steals from him. So, what does he decide to do with her? Unfortunately, he doesn’t shoot her.

I Got You, Babe does get better has the story goes on, mainly due to the introduction of John’s large and colorful family. I got hopeful, then proceeded to have them dashed when Renee continues to spiral down, descending into bouts of “it’s all about me!” Does she consider the turmoil John must be going through, a cop hooked up with a fugitive? The same fugitive who expects John to trust her after she has shown herself to be a born liar. Safe to say, no she doesn’t.

I Got You, Babe takes place over the course of a couple of days, which makes it an even more bothersome premise. How can John and Renee profess their love to each other after the circumstances they met under, what they proceed to go through, all in the span of a few days? The whole scenario makes love-at-first-sight seem like a downright, everyday, realistic occurrence.

I love a good laugh as much as the next person, but I find little humor in reading a romance about a heroine I want to throttle and hero I want to shake senseless. John may think he got his babe, what he really got was a headache.

--Wendy Crutcher


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