The film world can be a great theme for a book – there is undoubtedly intrigue and scheming, strong characters determined to make it against all odds, and the inevitable “plot twist” that can make for a fabulous story. In Baby, Baby, the tone is right, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Tatiana Fox is trying to do what many B-movie, straight-to-video, low-rent starlets before her have tried to do: break into the big time of mainstream Hollywood. The story begins at the premier of Sin by Sin, the movie that could make Tatiana famous. The odds are against her; the corpses of many a scream queen have paved the path she’s trying to walk, but it’s either take the chance or keep making crappy films, and even those are becoming scarce since she’s neither surgically altered nor in her teens. To add to her troubles, six months earlier Tatiana was at the top of her less-than-stellar film career when her husband discovered his homosexuality and left her to take care of their two-year-old twins alone. Tatiana needs a nanny.
In walks former Australian soccer star Jack Thorpe, who has also seen his career go downhill since an unfortunate injury led to him make an obscene gesture which cost him his spot as the golden boy of soccer. To make matters worse, his manager lost all of his money in bad investments. Broke and dispossessed, Jack needs a job. He signs on to be “manny” to Tatiana’s adorable twins, Ethan and Everson, as the deal that might make her a world famous movie star takes shape.
Of course, it’s never as easy as that, and as Sin by Sin becomes a reality, Jack and Tatiana’s relationship gets complicated. Is he just the babies’ caretaker, or is he becoming more? After taking care of herself for so long, does she need what he has to offer?
The book has a very snappy, hip and cool feel, but it was too shallow to really hook me in. Don’t get me wrong, I love breezy comedies where I don’t have to do much thinking in order to enjoy myself, but give me characters I can care about, at least. In Baby, Baby, it’s all about designer labels and famous names and product placement. Yes, I know it’s set in the world of moviemaking where substance is hardly a requirement for enjoyment, but some depth or characterization that went beyond just two dimensions would have been nice. The fact that Tatiana needs an entourage to deal with her life didn’t make her particularly endearing, not when I see women doing so much more every single day without the need for overpaid, quirky “help” who seem to bring more trouble than solutions. Jack is a nice enough guy, but didn’t stay with me after I was done with the book. Also, a detail that may be cleared up in the final draft of the book (this was an advance copy), soccer clubs like Manchester United (Jack’s team) don’t win the World Cup, it’s the national teams that compete for soccer’s top prize. Yeah, yeah, I know, I happen to be a soccer addict, but that’s a pretty easy fact to get right.
While Baby, Baby might qualify as easy, “beachy” reading, it probably was a little too “beachy” for me – I still like characters who interest me in what will happen next; had I not committed to reviewing the book, I wouldn’t have finished it. It did make me long for a good romantic comedy, so I think I’ll get out my old books by Rachel Gibson or Susan Elizabeth Phillips.