okay, so i am finally reviewing this for real. sorry for the delay, karly – this is no way to handle a buddy read! this review will have spoilers for sure. read at your own risk.
here are some things i have learned from this book.
1) there is no crime in san francisco. i mean, this is what i am inferring anyway, because there’s no other reason for the police to be so interested here in, well, “who’s holding the baby.” since the synopsis up there does nothing to tell you the plot, i will:
basically, an italian-american gentleman impregnates an italian foreign-exchange student (a 20-year-old college foreign-exchange student – this isn’t that kind of book), who never tells him she has borne his child because she broke off the relationship and “vanished” when she thought he had been hooking up with some other woman, although he had not. her mother back in the old country becomes dangerously ill, and she wants to go see her, but since she is scandalously unmarried and does not want to be breaking her mother’s failing heart, she swoops in to leave the infant with its father, mere hours before her flight. stereotypical italian hysterics ensue as the man is overwhelmed with the knowledge that he has a kid, and the demand that he take care of it while this woman he still loves goes away and as he tries to win her back all at once. the baby is dumped in the arms of its uncle who dumps it in the arms of his assistant, the police are called because of the spectacle, and the parents of the kid flee the building after she clocks him in the head with a vase, and he ends up following her to the airport, and eventually all the way to italy, leaving the baby behind and begging his brother to take care of it. the police try to take the baby into custody, claiming it has been abandoned, but the uncle tells them he is babysitting it, and that the parents are married (which matters for some reason), and it’s all good and that his assistant is actually his fiancée, so there’s no problem here, officers. the police spend the rest of the book trying to catch him in his lie and get the baby back into protective services.
what i have learned from this:
a) it is illegal to babysit. unless you have the birth certificate on hand.
b) it is doubly illegal to babysit if you are an unmarried man, even if you are related to the baby in question, as the police only back off (temporarily) when he lies about his relationship to his assistant.
c) in san francisco, the police have nothing better to do than check up on a man who is babysitting his brother’s child. repeatedly.
2) it is impossible for a woman to excuse herself from a weird-ass situation, particularly if she is already involved in a weird-ass situation. more plot will be necessary here. the assistant in the above paragraph is our heroine grace. her boss/fake fiancé is luc salvatore. she got the job through luc’s father dom, who owns the company, and who desperately wants to retire, but he is concerned about luc, who is such a lady-killer that every assistant they have hired for him has fallen under his spell and been useless at the job. dom needs to go away for a year, and rather than hire a male assistant, by whom luc would not be tempted, dom instead commissions grace, a gorgeous woman with small-business ambitions, to be luc’s assistant for the year, and if she can keep things platonic – keep luc at arm’s length – dom will finance her dream of opening a children’s toy store. so – grace makes herself all ugly by dying her blonde hair brown and putting on some oversized tinted glasses to hide her green eyes.
she also wears baggy clothes and a fake engagement ring. little does she know that luc does not just like pretty girls, he likes ALLLLLLL girls, even uggoes like in that picture above, and he comes at her pretty strong from day one, “fixing” her collar and touching her face and making with all the italian endearments. however, he does respect the engagement ring and never takes his flirtations too far (i mean, in the world of a romance novel – most women in the real world would not suffer that much cheek-cupping from their boss) but he takes every opportunity to denigrate her imaginary fiancé.
but grace has resisted luc’s advances for 337 whole days, even though she is wildly attracted to him, because she really really wants to start her own business and fulfill the dream she and her mother had planned before her tragic death. this ruse is for you, mom!
SO – when luc tells the police that grace is his fiancée, she is all OH NO!! what if dom hears??? but she can’t turn her back on a helpless little baby, and she doesn’t want it to be sent away with social services, so she goes along with the ruse, panicking the whole time. at first, it is only for a few hours, then a few days, but as the situation in italy seems to take longer and longer to resolve, she eventually goes so far as to move in with luc, sleeping in the other room, and has to do some fast-talking to convince him yes she really has a fiancé named william and he’s totally cool with her living with another man for now while all the time her hair dye is washing out and she is getting attractive again and luc is getting increasingly suspicious and plucking off her glasses and picking out more form-fitting clothing for her to wear around his place and his (many, many) brothers are hooting and hollering all over her and making assumptions about their relationship but still getting gropier with her than most women would tolerate.
Noticing his brothers’ reactions, Luc explained, “Will-William, her fiancé, has her in disguise. For some reason, he wants her to look like a bag lady. I haven’t quite figured out why. I will, though. I will.”
“A disguise?” Stef laughed, intrigued. “Like in the movies?”
Rocco approached. “You mean all I have to do is…”
Before she could protest, he whipped off her glasses. From behind, Alessandro slipped the pins from her hair, fluffing the wayward curls around her face and shoulders. “This isn’t fair,” she protested. “Stop it!” Marc advanced next, and she knew from his mischievous grim that he intended to investigate what lay beneath her bulky wool suit.
Apparently, so did Luc. Sweeping her clear of his brothers’ clutches, he gave her a gentle push towards the door. “Put on the green dress,” he said.
And by the remorseless gleam in his golden eyes, she knew it wasn’t a request.
but no hard feelings, despite that reading super-predatory; she just goes and puts on the pretty green dress and returns to eat dinner with them while they get all moony over the fact that she is suddenly somehow less hideous and luc checks out her tits.
so, all of this to say – what is it with women in romance novels and bets? or dares? or other similar arrangements where there is no ironclad legal force binding them into keeping their ridiculous promises but for some reason, they are helpless to just walk the fuck away?? so many needless hijinks. and while this one is less disturbing than Fifty Shades of Grey or Beautiful Disaster, and it’s more of a slapstick situation, it’s a real headscratcher as to why she doesn’t just say – “you know – i don’t think this plot makes much sense. i know i heard the social worker said that unless there was a woman here, the baby would be taken away, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?? i mean – this is the 90’s, right?? and plenty of single men have raised children, and all you are doing is watching it for a while, right?? i feel like it would be totally okay for me to not get involved in this silly circus and go back to my own apartment and leave you to this since i am already kind of enmeshed in a ridiculous arrangement with your pops that it’s better you never find out about. so, grace out.”
3) here are some additional complications, because this book isn’t complicated enough
a) i keep calling the baby “it.” this is because the mother calls it “toni” when she thrusts it at its father, and everyone hears that name as “tony,” and since the salvatore family has not produced female offspring in like a billion, luc tells the cops that he is babysitting his nephew. but oh no, the baby turns out to be a girl!!! which lie eventually causes problems for luc and his babysitting arrangement.
b) dom is totally not okay with children being born out of wedlock. so luc has to hide the existence of pietro’s baby from dom, lest pietro be disowned, and when dom arrives back in the usa unexpectedly for thanksgiving, luc claims that it is his own, from the secret elopement of himself and grace. which compromises grace’s arrangement with dom, of which luc still knows nothing, and makes it look that she hooked up with luc on like day one, even though she is totally blameless. (ish)
c) grace brought all this shit from her apartment to make social services believe she was living there with luc. yet somehow, when dom arrives and she is hiding in the closet with the baby (where social services eventually finds her and is totally not cool with), he notices none of the girly things and is not suspicious in the least.
d) luc has a very nosy neighbor across the hall who keeps on calling those police on him, because – again – it is illegal to babysit. meanwhile, with those officers distracted, people are probably being eviscerated all over san francisco. she also scolds luc for using profanity in the hallway.
e) grace’s father is a minister, and is also against the idea of babies being born out of wedlock. he walks into luc’s apartment along with the new case worker in the middle of their nude, near-intercourse, (yeah, that happens) and he is super confused about why grace never told him she married luc and where this baby came from and grace tells him everything and her father agrees to marry them for real right there and grace agrees to it because it’s just easier that way, telling luc they will get it annulled as soon as pietro gets back, and the ceremony is underway in luc’s apartment when luc’s other brothers walk in in the middle and are all loud and rowdy, and then the baby poos so they have to pause the ceremony AGAIN, and then dom, who was told they were ALREADY married and that toni is their baby walks in, and then shortly after that the new-new case worker comes in and it just happens to be luc’s ex with a grudge, and then pietro and carina walk in and they have been married in italy so it’s totally okay for them to have toni back and all the lies start colliding and are so very hard to keep track of and WHO’S HOLDING THE BABY?
but it all gets resolved and luc and grace get married for real and live happily ever after the end.
what a long, strange trip it’s been
old, pre-read review:
upon reading the title, i wasn’t sure if this was a book about distracted parents, or about a kidnapping. so, i looked a little more closely. and i saw that dude’s sweater. and then i looked still more closely.
“Toni isn’t your nephew – she’s your niece!”
“You’re kidding!” Luc grinned in amazement. “That’s wonderful!”
Grace struggled to control her temper. “You’re missing the point. If the police had discovered we’d lied, they’d have thrown us both into jail. Darn it, Luc, how dare you involve me in your family problems?”
“Our problems,” he reminded her in a soft, deliberate voice. “We’re engaged. You told the police that, remember?”
“But it’s all a lie,” she protested. “Every bit of it. I’m not engaged to you…and the baby isn’t even a boy!”
“You have a choice. You can stay with me – posing as my fiancee – until my brother returns. Or you can turn your back on a helpless baby.”
“You don’t play fair!” she complained.
“No,” he agreed. Then he smiled, a charming, dangerous smile. “I play to win.”
and then i wet myself.
and you thought that was going to be the end of it. BUT NO!!!
buddy read is going to happen!!!
sitting in a tree!