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Books Read in 2016: ‘Nobody’s Baby but Mine’ by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Nobody's Baby But Mine (Chicago Stars, #3)Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Alumni Readings in Genres (ARIG) “book club” Romance selection for February.
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Book Description (from Goodreads):
Genius physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington desperately wants a baby. But finding a father won’t be easy. Jane’s super-intelligence made her feel like a freak when she was growing up, and she’s determined to spare her own child that suffering. Which means she must find someone very special to father her child. Someone who’s more comfortable working out his muscles than exercising his brain.

Cal Bonner, the Chicago Stars’ legendary quarterback, seems like the perfect choice. But his champion good looks and down-home ways are deceiving. Dr. Jane is about to learn a little too late that this good ol’ boy is a lot smarter than he lets on—and he’s not about to be used and abandoned by a brainy, baby-mad schemer.

DNF @ 25% (this “review” turns into something of a rant—be warned!)

Whenever I’m reading a book which I’ve heard wonderful things about or which I’ve seen has an excellent average rating on Goodreads (which I find to be a little more honest/brutal than Amazon), and I find myself disliking it, one of the things I typically do is go over on to Goodreads and start reading those reviews to see what it is that I’m missing that everyone else seemed to love about it.

In this case, it seems to be that most of the readers who gave this book four- and five-star reviews are longtime readers of SEP’s books—and had read the two books that came before this one in the series. They discuss her humor and characterization—and their love of the “hero” of this book as a secondary character in the previous book(s).

But then, I clicked over to the one- and two-star reviews. And I found myself reading a lot of the same rants, thoughts, and frustrations that I found myself experiencing as I tried to get into this novel.

I made it to the 25% mark in the book—when she forces him to have sex for nonconsensual procreation the second time. And at that point, I put the book down, because I just couldn’t stand to read any further. Here was my status update on GR at that point:

“I still haven’t read any further, but it’s almost physically painful to think about picking this up to read again.”

When I dread picking up a book (and a romance novel at that) to continue reading it, I realize it’s time to cut my losses and “toss” it into the virtual DNF pile.

What didn’t I like about this book?

To begin with, I disliked both main characters. In the first 25% of the book, neither showed any redeeming qualities—or like they would be gaining any throughout the course of the book (which my reading of the negative reviews of the book seem to bear out).

The heroine: She’s supposed to be some kind of child-prodigy science genius, but she is a COMPLETE IDIOT about genetics, biology, and nature-vs-nurture. She had a crappy childhood because she was so smart. And now, barely into her thirties having just broken up with a boyfriend, she’s desperate to have a baby. (Don’t get me started on how much I hate this trope—it’s a personal thing.) So she decides that because she had a crappy childhood owing to how super smart she was, she’ll get someone she deems stupid to sire her child. Except, of course, she can’t go to a sperm bank, because the only sperm there are from medical students (and there’s no such thing as a non-genius medical student?????).

Look—I know this book was published in 1997, but still. Both the Internet and the library existed twenty years ago. As someone who was supposed to be a scientist, she could have applied a little bit of the scientific method and discovered that her prejudices about sperm banks and the genetics of reproduction on IQ and intelligence were completely WRONG. I know this without even having done any research, and I was an ENGLISH MAJOR.

Then, there’s nature vs. nurture. She had a crappy childhood. Boo-hoo. How about instead of committing fraud (and nearly sexual assault) against a stranger in order to try to get pregnant, she realize that she can use the experiences she had as a child and give her child a better life than that!

There are so many ways that SEP undermined what could have been an interesting and actually intelligent character by making her completely ignorant and nonsensical. (And then there’s her slut-shaming of the girl next door who sets her up with the hero . . . but I won’t get into that here, except to mention how confused I was by the book not only opening in that girl’s POV, but returning to it even after the hero/heroine met.)

And the “hero”—what an Alpha-Hole! Sexist. Ageist. Narcissistic. Demeaning to those around him. Only out for himself. He’s even a jerk to his own teammates. And then—then! When he finds out she’s pregnant he forces her to marry him, just so they can get divorced when the baby is born so the baby isn’t a bastard? What is this—1953? He thinks it will play better in the media if he divorces her when the child is born? Oh, wait—no, he’s a genius too (science degree, graduated with honors). So that means that in the world of this story, there’s no way he can actually make educated, common-sense decisions or behave in a way that would be normal to most intelligent, educated people.

I grew up in a family with a mom who has a Ph.D. in science education/microbiology and a dad with a master’s in biochemistry (and both still teach in these fields at the college level). My grandfather was a college chemistry professor. Most of my parents’ siblings and many of my cousins have advanced degrees in some scientific field or another. (What happened to me, right?) So I guess I have a much different view of how smart people can be who are geniuses in scientific fields than SEP showed in the first quarter of this book.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

  1. Sunday, February 14, 2016 2:28 am

    Thanks for the review, Kaye. I’ll stay away from this book. And yes, people without a scientific degree (or any degree really) can still show lots of common sense, compassion, and cleverness.



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