Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson
This book was apparently the a debut novel first published over 10 years but the pop culture references only extend to Hockey players and a reference to The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Georgeanne Howard, a very buxom Texas gal, is supposed to marry Virgil Duffy, a man over 40 years older than her, but instead runs off with John Kowalsky a hockey player on the hockey team that Duffy owns. The two have quite steamy night and then John leaves her at the airport assuming she's heading back to Dallas. Instead Georgeanna stays in Seattle and gives birth to John's daughter, Lexie, whom she manages to keep secret from him for seven years before he accidentally discovers her. Georgeanna believed that John would want nothing to do with Lexie seeing as how he abandoned her without a backward glance, but John definitely wants to be a part of Lexie's life and Georgeanna agrees on condition that John not hire a lawyer and take things at Georgeanna's pace.
Of course things don't go precisely as planned with John not holding up his end of the bargain completely causing Georgeanna to kind of go insane and try to withhold Lexie from John. Through it though the two can't keep their hands off each other despite intense arguments about Lexie and disagreements about how the past has played out and the two are learning about each other's past and how much they have changed in seven years. There are complications in the form of John's boss who is, duh!, not completely over being left at the alter and thus not too happy that his "friend" impregnated his fiance right after she ditched the wedding. The other complication is Charles, Georgeanna's new boyfriend/ something more, who treats her well, and gets her a kick ass job on a television show. A very small little extra to the book involves Lexie's best friend and business partner, Mae, and John's hockey-playing friend, John and it's very cute.
I liked both the characters immensely and the little girl Lexie. Both were flawed and while her issues with dyslexia were a little too dramatic, I was incredibly glad that Lexie seemed like a real six-year old girl, not one of those ever-present precocious kids that populate romance novels. And I have no problem admitting that I love the secret/ hidden baby plot and all the wonderful angst that it brings out and this was definitely no exception. Georgeanna has a few sexual hang-ups, but they do not get in the way of some really great sex scenes and it was certainly nice not to have to wait until page 200 to get to one. John is definitely a macho man, there's a scene where he talks about how he likes the pictures of Georgeanna pregnant because he likes to think that he put that baby there, which is something I can see turning off some people but it didn't really bother me as it fit in with his character and dealing with it was a part of their developing relationship.
One "issue" that some people might have is the skip of seven years where he overcomes his alcoholism and she learns to manage her learning disability. I was fine with this as I was reading a romance novel not a memoir, but it was just a wierd info dump when we came back from the break and it is not the only dump. Other dump include her weird emotional interpretations of his actions and how he makes her feel "different" and "special" for the first time and his musings on his first wife's suicide. Something I could not understand was how angry they both were about their sexual attraction to each other and how he uses it as against her in a way that makes her seem weak. As is the case in many romance novels the protagonists can tend to be a little mean to each other for my liking and argue a lot.
Rating: I really enjoyed so much about this book; even the "bad" parts weren't that big of a problem for me except for the little bits of meanness.