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REVIEW: Quarterback Daddy by Linda Barrett

Quarterback Daddy by Linda BarrettDear Ms. Barrett:

With a title like “Quarterback Daddy,” it has to be a Harlequin. No offense to Harlequin and I like this better than most of the “Presents” line but I hope that non-series fans can look past this to the good book this is.

Alexis Brown would never have contacted pro-football player Dan Delito about her niece – and his unknown daughter – if her back hadn’t been to the wall. But the expenses of her murdered sister’s funeral plus all the baby stuff needed for Michelle added to Alexis’s low paying position as a district attorney have depleted her resources. Her first impression of Dan isn’t a good one but she’s not to know that this is the second anniversary of his wife’s death.

Dan’s immediately suspicious of this woman and her claims that he’s the father of this child – after all he is a major sports figure and pulls down an impressive salary – but he and his attorney treat Alexis’s claims with all due seriousness. And when the DNA results confirm he’s a father, he takes on the responsibility maturely. But he doesn’t have a clue how much these two females – one 3 month old and her aunt – will affect his life and his future.

I like a lot of things about this book. Alexis and Dan are level headed, smart, intelligent people and – Glory be – they act that way. Alexis has reservations about Dan due to her family history with an alcoholic but she doesn’t immediately harsh on him and is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It does take her awhile to finally believe in his sobriety but given what you’ve built into her background, that does make sense.

Dan is shocked to learn about his daughter but – much as it makes them look bad – he’s a well known sports figure with hordes of groupies hanging around and sometimes a condom will break. He doesn’t deny the possibility but does act sensibly to be sure no one is pulling a fast one on him. He’s also cognizant of how the media will descend on the story and moves to control that as well.

The research you’ve done on NFL football is well done and smartly worked into the story. Since the main emphasis of the book is on Dan and Alexis it makes sense that football is used to show how it affects Dan’s private life and how it will influence Alexis’s view of him rather than the sport taking center stage. Fans of New England will be happy to see their Patriots vie for another Super Bowl, even if it’s only fictional. I also like how Dan’s mother has her own way of deciding whether or not it was a good game for Dan.

“He looks good,” said Rita, eyes glued to the screen. “Dirt doesn’t count. He walked evenly and his eyes are focused….”

Which is saying something after a defensive line has been trying their best to sack you for the whole game. I think readers who don’t follow sports and or American Football won’t feel too lost in the story though.

When Dan’s family is introduced, I thought “Oh, dear here we go with another tight-knit Italian sports family” but the Delitos turn out to be solid people, concerned about their son/brother/uncle, welcoming of the newest additions to the family and thrilled that Michelle and Alexis are pulling Dan out of the depression he’d been in. They add a nice touch to the story by showing Alexis what family life should have been for her rather than what she grew up with.

Dan’s interactions with Michelle are fun to read and not because they’re all turned into “aw shucks that’s so cute” moments or become comic pratfall scenes for him. At first he’s hesitant with her as would be anyone who hasn’t changed diapers or dealt with spit up but he gets the hang of it. But I think you show the growing feelings and joy he has for his daughter.

Dan and Alexis take some time to get to know each other before diving into bed. I guess you could say it’s plotplotplotsex. Dan makes a promise not to push Alexis for anything physical and then sticks to it despite being tempted. It was nice to read a story in which the hero and heroine don’t give into mindless lust after knowing each other two weeks. I was glad to see that Alexis makes sure about Dan’s reasons for asking her to marry him before she says “I do.”

Though I felt that these two were growing closer emotionally as well as physically by the end of the book, I was surprised at the issue you revealed about Alexis’s past given how I had thought it was discounted by something she told Dan earlier. This is a major event in her life and is obviously still affecting her, and though I’m glad she’s going to deal with it as the book ends, it seems like something that a significant other would need to know and I’m not sure when Alexis would have told Dan if not for his own revelation.

I was also never quite sure about why you’d made Alexis be a ringer for Dan’s dead wife. But after reading Jane’s opinion piece “Is there Really a Second Chance at Love in Romance,” this bit from Dan eased my mind.

“No one, Ally, should settle for being second best. Not you, and not me. You’re right about Kim and me having a great marriage, a wonderful relationship. It’s exactly because of that marriage that I know what I’m missing — and I want it again! …And with you I would not be settling for second best.”

I’m a long time fan of NFL football so it was nice to read a story using the sport as a backdrop. But even though it features a sports hero, the relationship takes priority here. Despite a groaner of a title, I’m glad I read this one and now I’m on the look-out for other books you’ve written. B


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Dee Carney
    Mar 27, 2010 @ 12:05:34

    My very first words when I saw the title of the book were “this has to be a Harlequin title.” Good grief. Glad to hear it’s a good read.

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  3. Jayne
    Mar 27, 2010 @ 12:22:55

    @Dee Carney: LOL, only the fact that I like NFL football got me past the title to look at the blurb.

  4. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 27, 2010 @ 12:29:29

    I bought this one. I’m a Harlequin fan, a football fan and—most importantly—a New England Patriots fan. How could I not?

    But I didn’t make it past the author’s note. It makes it pretty clear the author had no interest in football before this book. Then she “watched games on television, subscribed to Sports Illustrated and bought one of those Dummies books.”

    I know it’s unreasonable of me—it’s not like I run around shooting people while writing romantic suspense—but I’ve lived and breathed Pats football since I could hold my head up and roll over to see the TV. I think the best sports romances are written by fans of the sport. (Which isn’t too unreasonable, I don’t think. The best legal romances are written by current or former lawyers. A lot of the best romantic suspense/thrillers are written by former law enforcement. Look at the best military romances and their authors.)

    But you’re a football fan and you enjoyed it, so I’ll definitely give it another shot. Especially since, though her husband’s a Giants fans, she chose the Patriots. Good call. :)

    One thing I find curious is that she used a real team, not a fictional expansion team, which is the norm in sports romances. I thought that was a no-no, but I must have been wrong.

  5. Jayne
    Mar 27, 2010 @ 12:50:31

    @Shannon Stacey: I thought it was a no-no to use an actual team as well but that’s what she’s done. Oh, and the team wins the Super Bowl at the end. ;)

  6. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 27, 2010 @ 13:08:02

    Of course they do! They’re the Patriots. :)

    I think after I finish the book I’m reading, this one will be next. So glad you reviewed it!

  7. Annmarie
    Mar 27, 2010 @ 18:52:38

    I told Shannon to buy this book. I even told her it was good. But does she listen to me? Nooooooooo. She listens to Jayne. I’m making a note of this.

  8. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 27, 2010 @ 19:04:37

    I did buy it! The very day you told me to. I just…didn’t read it. But now I will and thanks to you, it’s already on my nook. :)

  9. Jayne
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 04:37:33

    @Annmarie: Oh, dear. Am I busting up a friendship? I’ll just slowly back away from the keyboard now….

  10. Anonymous
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 06:48:48

    Jayne said:

    No offense to Harlequin and I like this better than most of the “Presents” line but I hope that non-series fans can look past this to the good book this is.

    I’ve tried to look past titles like this. Really. I’ve tried damn hard. But, with apologies to Ms. Bennett, who I’m sure had little to no input here, I… just…can’t.

    I’m clearly not in this line’s target demo, but I find some Harlequin lines’ groaner titles to be a very real barrier to buying. And I like sports romances! Seriously, is Harlequin at all concerned about their aging readership, and their ability to attract new and/or younger readers to their lines?

    Jayne’s too polite. OFFENSE TO HARLEQUIN! Flag on the play!

  11. Jayne
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 08:10:01

    Weeeel, it (the title) is better than something like, oh, “Broken Condom, Unknown Daughter.”

  12. Jane
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 08:33:41

    @Jayne I would LOVE to see that title in a secret baby story. HA!

  13. Annmarie
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 08:59:19

    @Jane: I agree. I want to see THAT title for a secret baby story.

  14. Jayne
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 09:04:43

    “Sports Groupie Mom, Instant Daddy”

    “Failed Protection, She’s Got Twins!”

    “Positive Pregnancy Test, DNA Daddy Test”

  15. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 09:06:33

    I must be a gold star member of Harlequin’s Demographic Dream Team because I love the title Quarterback Daddy.

    I also love the Harlequin Presents titles because I know exactly what I’m getting. When I see The Big City CEO’s Timid Virgin Country Mouse Mistress and The Greek Billionaire’s Revenge Marriage of Convenience on the shelf, I’ll grab that Billionaire without even reading the back cover copy. Greek, billionaire, revenge–I’m there. CEO and virgin–gotta read the blurb.

    I’m definitely the reader those hooks hook.

  16. Annmarie
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 09:42:10

    @Shannon Stacey: I’m that demographic too. I saw Quarterback and bought it. Daddy would have done it for me too.

    I am a secret baby fan.

    I’m also a Greek/Italian/Secret/Billionaire/Pregnant/Virgin fan. Add any of those words to the title and the book is in my cart.

  17. Janine
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 16:06:38

    Count me as another one who would be more likely to read it with Broken Condom, Unknown Daughter as the title. Jayne, you should work in marketing. ;-)

  18. RebeccaC
    Mar 29, 2010 @ 14:00:09

    Oh, it says ‘pregnant’ – at first glance I thought you’d written ‘penguin’!

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