Borrowed Baby
by Leslie Davis Guccione
(Silh. Yours Ttruly 89, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-52089-1
***
Borrowed Baby begins with a premise that we romance readers have seen before: The Deception. Journalist Nick Hansen writes for both a Pittsburgh newspaper and a local magazine. He inherited a by-line at the newspaper and writes a syndicated column as crusty, sexist Jake O'Donnell. His chauvinistic style makes his column one that women love to hate. Using his own name, he's going to write an article about how women gravitate to a man with a baby. He'll be a pretend daddy.

To help him with his research, Nick is going to borrow his two-year-old nephew Kip for a week and see if his theory is right. Are women attracted to a man with a kid? As a single dad with a kid in his arms, will women be more likely to approach him? He's going to go to the grocery store, mall, playground and other places where he and his nephew will be visible to test his theories.

Everything is fine on Day One of the experiment until Nick notices that Kip is missing. He finds the toddler several houses down the street under the care of saucy redhead Shannon McEvoy. He can already see that maintaining the fictitious story about being Kip's daddy may be harder than he expected around this sexy, but curious woman to whom he's attracted.

Shannon likes Nick and his 'son' Kip. She's enjoying spending time with them but is getting confusing signals from this man. What she doesn't realize is that everything he's telling her is a lie. She also doesn't know that she's sent him a double-whammy when she scorns the writing of Jake O'Donnell. Nick is in a dilemma. If he tells Shannon the truth, she'll dump him like a used tissue. He knows that he'll have to come clean, but right now it's taking more courage than he's got.

You Pittsburgh residents may appreciate reading a story set in your city. I enjoyed the bits of information that were given about the city, especially scenes with Nick sculling on the river.

Yes, this plot line is very familiar. What kept me going was knowing that Nick was right. I could imagine Shannon blowing him out of the water when she finally knew the truth. And yet I was irritated when she gave him many opportunities to tell the truth.

Leslie Davis Guccione manages to keep the story from sinking into total predictability because she explains her characters' motivations so well that it's obvious that no one is right and no one is really wrong. The fact that I understood and empathized with both characters is the reason this book rates a three and not lower.

Good ol' Nick is what kept me reading. I was really curious how he would extricate himself from the pit he'd dug for himself. If you find that you've got some spare time and want to find out how a man makes a fool out of himself and then has to eat crow, Borrowed Baby fits the bill.

--Linda Mowery


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