RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: The Baby’s Guardian by Delores Fossen


Title: The Baby's Guardian
Author: Delores Fossen
Publication Info: Harlequin 2010
ISBN: 9780373694723
Genre: Romantic Suspense

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc.This RITA® Reader Challenge review was written by…me. No one signed up for this book so I read it. Oh, boy.

Book CoverPlot Summary: In the past twenty-four hours Sabrina Carr had been shot at, kidnapped and held hostage. As if being eight months pregnant wasn’t stressful enough!

Now, after narrowly escaping the clutches of masked gunmen, Sabrina and her baby needed a protector. That’s when hot Texas cop Shaw Tolbert came to her rescue. As the surrogate mother to his child, Sabrina couldn’t help the sizzling attraction to Shaw that the danger stirred up…or the kiss that told her she meant more to him than she ever realized. With her attackers still on the loose, Sabrina’s priority was keeping the baby safe. But how could she keep her cool when things were so hot?

And now, my review:

How did this book annoy me? Let me count the ways.

1. Sabrina is pregnant. She’s the surrogate mother of the hero’s baby. I couldn’t figure out why she was in that position because she and Shaw have a crappy relationship at the start of the book, leading me to believe Sabrina’s an idiot.

2. The hero, Shaw, is a widower. So sometime in the last 8 months to a year, his wife died. I’ll be honest: I’m always suspicious of romances that start within a year of the death of one spouse, particularly when the widowed party is grieving through the time-honored romance-hero method of semi-permanent residency in an emotional vacuum. Totally healthy hero and father material, right? Sure!

So this is a new one: she’s very pregnant with his child but they’re just now addressing their attraction to one another, and they’ve never had sex. The problem is that the emotional leaps required to make that rearranged chain of events work are too big and too much for me to believe.

3. Shaw’s a cop, and someone is leaking information. No one can be trusted! Except the ones he trusts, except when he’s wrong. And if the scene is being told from the heroine’s point of view, she knows exactly who he trusts and who he doesn’t except when he is wrong about someone, despite not having talked to him consistently for the past 8 months or so. I’ve heard of Pregnesia, but apparently Sabrina has Pregomnisience.

4. In the flop room, where guys take time off to sleep when pulling double shifts, when everyone is working overtime to deal with this case and the crisis of not having the suspects in custody, when anyone could walk in, when they’re supposed to be watching out for one another, that right there is the PERFECT time to get busy. More than once.

5. There was so much description of how shocked she was at her body’s physical response to her attraction to the hero, I expected her gynecologist to comment on it.

6. AND THEN THE OB/GYN DID COMMENT on how there seemed to be something between them, despite knowing that he’s a widower, she’s his surrogate mother, and they aren’t together. Subtle. Classy. And totally not inappropriate at all! Except the opposite of all that. I visibly cringed during that scene.

7. Want to implicate some more people just so it’s not obvious who the villain is? Sure, go for it! But definitely leave those threads untied or insufficiently explained at the end once we learn who the actual villain is, ok? Ok.

8. One character loses a spouse in the novel’s opening hostage scene. This character is of course still at work, and of course everyone is asking him how he is. HOW DO YOU THINK HE IS?!

9. Grief: it’s really annoying and gets in the way of having surrogate babies and doing your job.

9. Sabrina is 8 months pregnant. We are told this over and over. And in that time, did Shaw show up for one appointment during her pregnancy? Nope. Holy crap, for real? I’m supposed to believe that he’s hero and father material? He’s a jackass. An emotionally vacant jackass who is neck-deep in grief over his wife.

10. Sabrina is so bizarre, and I cannot help but attribute her actions as a surrogate to selfishness than to altruism:

Some women would have stopped there. Some women wouldn’t have continued to press to carry a baby for a dead friend. But she owed Fay. She owed Shaw. And that’s why three months after Fay’s death,  Sabrina had pressured Shaw for her to use the embryos that Shaw and she had created. It hadn’t been an easy fight – especially since the embryos were her DNA, not Fay’s. However, in the end Shaw had agreed, probably because he’d been too beaten down by Fay’s death to realize the full impact of having a baby with Sabrina.

Well, he no doubt knew the full impact now.

A man who was unwilling and grieving at the time of conception would be a PERFECT father. How could I question her judgment?

I respond to that scene with Keanu Reeves from Parenthood, attributing his comments to Sabrina:

11. There are some lines that are magical in their hilarity. Like this one:

But Shaw shook his head as well, and he learned forward to kiss her. It was French.

And perfect. The kiss from a man who knew exactly what he was doing.

Oh yeah, totally. Shaw knows exactly what he’s doing: hiding in the police station boning a witness who is also the surrogate mother of his child. Is that French, too?

12. There are also lines like this one:

“We have a big problem,” Rico yelled over the piercing alarm. “In addition to the car bombs, someone set a fire in the men’s bathroom.”


You know, that pretty much sums up the book for me. Flaming poo. The plot was convoluted, bizarre, exceptionally violent for some very flimsy reasons, and featured a hero and a heroine who were so emotionally immature, I feared for a newborn being in their care. The only suspense for me was whether Sabrina and Shaw would do anything to earn respect from me, or from one another, and really, they didn’t. Only the question of which one of the inept, vitriol-spewing villains actually did the deed kept me reading to the end, and kept this book out of F territory.

This book is available from Kindle | WORD Brooklyn | eHarlequin.com | AllRomance | Sony | Kobo

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Lori says:

    I am clearly over-thinking this, but why was Sabrina is such an all-fired hurry that she had to push Shaw into the surrogacy arrangement before he was ready?

  2. 2
    Miranda says:

    I wondered about that too, Lori. Although everyone knows that lifechanging decisions should be made in the midst of emotional trauma.

  3. 3
    Linsalot says:

    What I am wondering is how exactly it is honouring Fay’s memory to force her widow to have a child that is not actually Fay’s.  I mean I’m sure the original idea would have been for Fay to have an actual baby, but now that Fay’s gone no use for the surrogacy.  But I am talking from a stand point of reality.

  4. 4
    Cathy B says:


    Now I can’t stop laughing, and since I have both tonsillitis and early-stage pneumonia, it really does hurt.

  5. 5
    Emily says:

    while reading this I kept expecting the next thing to be “Sabrina is a virgin”’.
    I don’t get the surregecey either. If Fay is dead and they aren’t her eggs, it isn’t her baby.
    I don’t blame Shawn though. It sounds to me like some crazy is forcing him to become a father.

  6. 6
    Lori says:

    @Linsalot: The child would be biologically Fay’s and in that sense part of her would live on and blah, blah, blah. But yeah, the main idea behind the surrogacy would have been for Fay and Shaw to raise a child together. With Fay gone that’s not going to happen so it’s not at all obvious that going forward with the surrogacy would be the right thing to do.

    And all of that is way too much thought to expect for a book that includes an 8 months pregnant woman having sex with a guy in a semi-public place and, of course we can’t forget the flaming poo.

    This is another one of those books that makes me think that if it got published I weep at the thought of how bad the stuff in the reject pile must be.

  7. 7
    MelB says:

    Love those unintentionally hilarious lines. ‘It was French.” Is she talking kisses or champagne or clothes or…

  8. 8

    @Lori no, I’m with Linsalot, the baby isn’t even Fay’s. It says in that block quote that the embryos are her DNA, not Fay’s. So…basically she’s just forcing him to father HER child, the dead wife really has nothing to do with that any more because of the being, you know…dead and stuff.

    Surrogacy… “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” This isn’t surrogacy any more, it’s just in vitro fertilization now.

    That is still one of the few roles in which I’ve ever liked Keanu Reeves (and it’s also one of my favorite scenes, in one of my favorite movies, so thanks!).

  9. 9
    ChrisZ says:

    @Lori:  It seems like the embryo was from Sabrina, not Fay’s

    “It hadn’t been an easy fight – especially since the embryos were her DNA, not Fay’s.”

    I can see why no one signed up to review this hot pile of steaming poo!

    Thanks SB Sara for not only taking another one for the team but also making the review fun to read.

  10. 10
    ChrisZ says:

    @Lori:  Sorry!  Took me so long to type in my fancy security code someone else had already pointed out the embryo note!

  11. 11
    Susan says:

    Umm.  Never been pregnant, but, does one really have any interest in *the act* at 8 months?  Moms, could you speak to this?  I guess it’s possible.

  12. 12
    Eve S. says:

    Every pregnancy is different but I was never hotter for my husband then when the pregnancy hormonal soup was coursing through my veins. So, when I’m an emotional mess (with fantastic hair and nails thanks to vitamins), not looking my best (gotta love that pregnancy acne) and eating like a horse, I was completely down with making mad passionate sexoring…. good times. :)

  13. 13
    Lynn S. says:

    Monday afternoons are much better when you are annoyed.

    ‘We have a big problem,’ Rico yelled over the piercing alarm. ‘In addition to the car bombs, someone set a fire in the men’s bathroom.’

    and wacky hijinks ensued, correct?  This is a prime reason why I generally don’t like romantic suspense.  Too much else going on and too much stretching of the bounds of credulity; and according to urban mythology wouldn’t a fire in the men’s bathroom be an improvement.  At least no one appears to have had an evil parent lurking in the background.  The real suspense is will it win the coveted RITA.  Delores herself looks less than credulous.

  14. 14
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    W. T. F.

    Given the extraordinary number of very, very bad reviews of RITA-nominated books on this blog, I have to wonder if the people in charge of nominations ever even opened the books.

  15. 15
    Mina C. Lobo says:

    LOL at #s 5 & 6!  :-D

  16. 16
    Linzenberg says:

    I’m sorry.  I just can’t handle

    It was French.

    in my romance novels.

    WTH?  Is by a staff writer for Cosmo Girl?  Does Sabrina later play M*A*S*H to determine if Shaw is her tru luv?  Does she leave a note on wide-ruled looseleaf (in purple ink!) in his locker between class?  Is ST = Hawt-T! scribbled on her Keds?

    If you are mature enough to decide to squeeze a baby out of your vagoo for someone you haven’t even boned, you do not describe your kisses as “French.”  You describe them as “passionate” and “sultry”.  I will accept “hungry” and “eager”. But I am not going to squee about you getting French-anythinged unless it’s tickled.

  17. 17
    Chelsea S. says:

    The Flamming Poo made me laugh rather too loud at work…thanks for that.

  18. 18
    Paula Graves says:

    Now I’m kind of terrified to see the review of my book.

  19. 19
    Cora says:

    I read The Baby’s Guardian as part of one of those Mills & Boon double editions and while I generally like Delores Fossen’s work, this one really was flaming poo. The plot was a mess with way too many characters running around, the suspense part didn’t work and the villain was a complete idiot who neither seemed to have a plan nor a believable motivation. And coming from a country where surrogacy is illegal and viewed about as kindly as human trafficking, I found the whole surrogacy plot creepy and completely unromantic.

    I honestly wonder why this book was nominated for a Rita award, especially as the sequel, also by Delores Fossen, was much better.

  20. 20
    Jane says:

    But Shaw shook his head as well, and he learned forward to kiss her. It was French.

    Are you #romfailing me?

  21. 21
    Alina says:

    First of all, try saying “Shaw and she” ten times fast!

    So… the heroine pressured the hero into having a baby he didn’t want to have? By convincing him that using embryos created when his wife was alive makes that baby his wife’s despite the fact that she would be neither the genetic, nor the gestational, nor the actual-parenting mother of the resulting child? That’s some Olympic-level fuckwittery right there.

  22. 22
    nina says:

    Maybe I’m being too picky, but aren’t surrogate mothers usually vetted pretty carefully? I thought that women who’ve already had children of their own were the preferred candidates. The heroine of this story doesn’t sound as if she’s wound too tight. I don’t think she’d make the cut in real life.

  23. 23
    MissFiFi says:

    “It was French.”

    I had to read that sentence a few times to figure out what the hell it meant at first, thinking I missed some deep meaning.
    I can’t believe that the publisher, editor, agent, everyone involved, was okay with this lame ass description of a kiss in a romance novel. Heck, I am more turned on by Maxim De Winter’s awesome line in ‘Rebecca’: “I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.”

  24. 24

    For shizzly, I have so thought to myself OMG what KIND of kiss will it be???? So many OPTIONS *tearing hair*…oh…it was French.

  25. 25


    *ch* well if she had had children before she wouldn’t be necessarily considered badonkulous enough to be the heroine. I’m still trying to get over the whole “we must preserve Fay’s memory! I know! Let us conceive the childs without the sexxoring!…as it will, you know, lead to the sexxoring and possibly I’ve had the weird stalkerish hots for you since I was picked as a surrogate but now your wife’s dead and I SOOO had nothing to do with that and-” I’m sorry, what? Seriously, this story should have gone all Fatal Attraction and she could be the crazy Glenn Close character who like offed his wife so she could have his baby AND have him and then it ends with her having the baby and him sending her to jail or like a padded cell. Now THAT would have been suspenseful. Oh, and since she’s a super villainous she could also be behind the flaming poo in the restrooms. It was all part of her nefarious scheme!!

    Seriously though, Evil Crazy Pregnant Lady??? That’s like a comic book…

  26. 26
    headgirl says:

    I give this review A+ hilarious. Thanks!

  27. 27
    Hellybelly says:

    I have to wonder if the people in charge of nominations ever even opened the books.

    Right there with ya, DreadPirateRachel. Maybe they chose the books from the covers, and – as we all know – covers are really reliable…

  28. 28
    Kaetrin says:

    The Baby’s Guardian:  $4

    “Pregomniscience”:  Priceless

    thx Sarah! :D

  29. 29
    Karen says:

    The only thing I love more than a bad grade review is a bad grade review with a list :)  (Cuz it’s French ;)

  30. 30
    Cät von J says:

    I have no words!!!

    Sounds WTF (or maybe it´s just French and I don´t get it)…but ? the review!

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