The Babe Magnet

( 4 )


The Bachelor: Holt Landen was in trouble. He'd been left a six-month-old baby he never knew he had, and while he'd attracted plenty of babes in the past, they were always the kind in high heels and garters. Diapers were disturbingly new, and they called for a plan.

The Bride: Stevie Stedquest had a problem, too. She dispensed parenting advice on a radio talk show, but she didn't have any children. And although she wanted a child of her own, Mr....

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The Bachelor: Holt Landen was in trouble. He'd been left a six-month-old baby he never knew he had, and while he'd attracted plenty of babes in the past, they were always the kind in high heels and garters. Diapers were disturbingly new, and they called for a plan.

The Bride: Stevie Stedquest had a problem, too. She dispensed parenting advice on a radio talk show, but she didn't have any children. And although she wanted a child of her own, Mr. Right was no where on the horizon—only commitment-phobes and womanizers.

The Babe: Baby Isabelle needed a mother in the worst way. A temporary marriage between her newfound father and Stevie would solve the problem, but they seemed terribly mismatched. Fortunately, Isabelle had two aces up her diaper: opposites attract, and her daddy wasn't the only babe magnet in the family.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When bachelor Holt Landon, a hard-driving business consultant, ends up with a six-month-old daughter he never knew he had, he needs help-permanent help-and he needs it fast. Then he hears child-rearing expert Stevie Stedquist on the car radio and notices that baby Isabelle immediately quiets down. So Holt decides that Stevie is just the person to ask-to marry him! Holt does have logic on his side, because Stevie, parenting expert though she is, has no children-and she really could use some personal experience. But for her marriage without love is not an option. However, Baby Isabelle has her own ideas about this situation, and she is determined to get just what she wants. Light, lively, and totally fun, this is a perfect summer read. Wells (Wild About You) has written a number of earlier contemporaries and is a winner of the RWA's Golden Heart Award. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781428517943
  • Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Pages: 384

Meet the Author

Robin Wells

Robin Wells has won two Readers’ Choice Awards for her contemporary romances, RWA’s Golden Heart Award, the Holt Medallion and CRW’s Award of Excellence. Her books have appeared on Waldenbooks’ top ten bestseller list. Robin lives just outside New Orleans with her husband and two daughters.

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Read an Excerpt

The Babe Magnet

By Robin Wells

Dorchester Publishing

Copyright © 2004

Robin Wells

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-505-52536-4

Chapter One

A gust of cold March wind caught the glass door of the Dallas
County Health Clinic as Holt pushed it open, causing the door
to bang heavily against the doorstop. The temperature was in
the low thirties, quite a difference from the balmy
seventy-three degrees he'd left behind in New Orleans that

Well, it was only appropriate that the weather should be
chilly here. It matched the bone-chilling fact that he was
about to become a father.

No, not become, he mentally amended; technically, he already
was one, and had been for the last six months. But since he
hadn't even known the baby existed until two weeks ago and he
hadn't been sure it was his until two days ago, he figured his
official foray into fatherhood would start today, when he took

Custody. Fatherhood. A baby. The concepts made his stomach
roil. He still couldn't really believe it, but a DNA test had
confirmed it to a 99.99% certainty the day before yesterday:
Isabelle Elizabeth Sinclair Landen was indeed his child.

It had all happened so fast so fast his head was reeling. His
attorney's voice had been somber as an undertaker's when he'd
called with the news. "The test results are in, Holt. Are you
sitting down?"

Amazing, how quickly one's world could change. One minute he
was anunencumbered bachelor, and the next ... Boom! He was a
single father, responsible for raising a child he'd conceived
with a woman he scarcely knew.

Thinking about Ella made Holt close the clinic door harder
than necessary. He stepped through another set of glass doors
into a drab reception area, where a dozen or so people sat on
black plastic chairs lined against the white walls.

The receptionist seated behind the low gray counter appeared
to be trying to make up for the lack color in the dïr. She
wore a parrot green dress and bright red lipstick, and had a
nose that resembled a hooked beak. "May I help you?" she

"I'm Holt Landen, and I have an appointment with Mrs. Tucker."

The woman tilted back her head and peered through her round
glasses at a computer screen. "Oh, yes! You're here to pick up
your daughter."

Your daughter. The words jolted him. He wondered how long it
would take to get used to the idea.

She slid a sheet of paper toward him. "Sign here, please. And
I'll need to see some I.D."

Oh, right as if he'd impersonate someone to get in this
situation. Holt silently pulled out his slim leather wallet
and extracted his driver's license.

The woman cocked her head to one side and examined it.
Apparently he passed muster, because she handed it back with a
smile that made her nose look even longer and more curved.
"Mrs. Tucker is picking up your baby from the foster home. She
should be here shortly." She picked up a clipboard and handed
it to Holt. "In the meantime, I need you to fill out this
form, please."

Holt took the form and sat between a round-shouldered
middle-aged woman and a young Hispanic mother holding a
sleeping toddler. He scribbled in his name, address and other
vital information, then hesitated at the line marked
"Relationship to child." It was the first time he'd
acknowledged, in writing, that he was the child's father. He
scribbled the word hurriedly and moved on.

Holt scrawled his signature on the bottom of the form, rose
from his chair and carried it back to the bird lady. He'd just
taken his seat again when the door at the front of the
reception area opened. "Mr. Landen?" said a dark-haired woman
in flower-patterned scrubs.

Holt jumped to his feet.

"You can come on back."

Holt followed her down an antiseptic-scented corridor, his
heart pounding hard. The wail of a baby echoed from the far
end of the hall. Was that his daughter? If it was, she sure
had some lung power.

The woman led him to a small office where he was greeted by a
plump, pleasant-faced woman in a navy pantsuit. "I'm Virginia.
Tucker," she said, holding out her hand.

Holt shook it. "Holt Landen."

She gestured to one of the two black vinyl chairs in front of
the large, government-issue desk. A nameplate on the desk
read. Dr. J.E. Smithers. Three diplomas on the wall testified
to the fact that he'd completed college and medical school,
and was a board-certified pediatrician. "Please have a seat. I
have a few things to go over with you, then I'll get the

"That crying is that Isabelle?"

"Yes." Mrs. Tucker drew two forms out of a brown folder and
attached them to a clipboard. "Now, first all, I need you to
sign these release forms." Mrs. Tucker handed him the
clipboard. Holt scrawled his signature across the bottom line.

"Why is she crying?"

"Babies do that," she said. "There are lots of possible

Holt drew his brow together. "Well, shouldn't someone be doing
something to calm her?"

Mrs. Tucker smiled. "Don't worry, Mr. Landen. She's with
another social worker who's wonderful with children. I'm sure
she's doing everything she can."

Holt pulled his brows together. If a professional can't stop
the baby from crying, what the hell am I going to do?
something the matter with her?"

"Some babies cry more than others. The doctor will be in
shortly, and he'll explain everything," Mrs. Tucker said

But Holt refused to be soothed. Her tone set off alarm bells
in his mind. "What do you mean, everything? What needs to be

Mrs. Tucker hesitated. "Well, I need to discuss a matter with
you, Mr. Landen." She tapped the stack of papers on her lap,
straightening them into a neat pile. "The first foster mother
who watched Isabelle reported that she was rather ...

Holt hadn't even met his daughter, yet he took offense at
anyone sticking such a negative label on her. "Difficult how?"

"Well, she cries a lot, and she isn't easily calmed. And she
resists human contact. We were concerned enough about her
behavior that we took her to Children's Hospital for a
thorough evaluation."

The door opened abruptly, and a tall middle-aged man in a
white coat walked in.

Mrs. Tucker's face registered relief. "Here's Dr. Smithers. He
can explain it all much better than I can. Dr. Smithers, this
is Holt Landen. I was just starting to explain Isabelle's
condition." Holt shook the doctor's hand, impatient to get to
the bottom of this. "What condition?" he demanded as the
doctor seated himself behind the desk. "Is something the
matter with her?"

"There doesn't appear to be anything physically wrong," the
doctor said, his blue eyes somber. "But she's not gaining
weight the way she should, and she's developmentally behind
for her age. She's nearly six months old, but she looks and
acts like a baby two months younger."

Holt leaned forward. "So what's problem?"

"She's got a non-specific condition called Failure to Thrive.
Given her history and the fact that she seems to dislike human
contact, I'm afraid she's developing Attachment Disorder."

Holt tensed. "What's that?"

The doctor tapped his long fingers together. "Well, all
infants need to form a strong attachment to one main
caregiver. If that attachment isn't formed, the child can
develop all kinds of mental and behavorial problems."

Oh, man. This sounded serious.

"Attachment disorder isn't usually diagnosed until a child
nears adolescence, but by then, the damage is done. The best
course of action is to identify at-risk children and do what
we can to prevent it from causing permanent problems."

The doctor flipped through the pages of her medical chart.
"From what we can ascertain, the baby has had seven different
caregivers nine, if you count the two foster mothers during
her first six months of life. She hasn't had adequate time to
develop an emotional bond with any of them."

"You said we could maybe head off future problems. How do we
do that?"

"You need to give Isabelle stability." The doctor pushed up
his glasses on his forehead and rubbed his nose. "She needs
one person who'll be with her for the long haul. Someone
extremely patient and empathetic, who'll hang in there despite
all of her fussing and fuming and pushing away."

"She's got me."

"The doctor smiled. "Well, then, she's a lucky little girl."

"So what do I need to do?"

"For starters, you need to arrange your schedule to be with
her around the clock."

Holt froze. "Around the clock as in twenty-four seven?"


"For how long?"

"At least six months. A couple of years would be better."

Holt's stomach sank. "I can't do that. My business would
collapse if I took off for six months! And my current clients
would sue my pants off."

"Well, it doesn't have to be you. It just needs to be someone
who'll commit to being with the child for the foreseeable
future." He leaned forward. "The worst thing that could happen
would be for her to get attached to someone and then abandoned
again. That would make her withdraw even further."

"I've hired a nanny." Actually, his secretary had handled the
hiring. She'd also handled having all of the baby's belongings
moved from Ella's home to Holt's, where a spare bedroom had
been converted into a nursery. "Can the baby form attachments
to both a nanny and to me?" Holt asked.

"Oh, sure. Most children attach to two or more people. But
they attach first to one specific person normally their
mother. Their security in that primary, one-on-one
relationship is what allows them to trust other people. That's
what Isabelle has been missing." He steepled his hands
together. "You need to make sure this nanny is willing to make
a long-term commitment."

Holt nodded. "Six months to two years."

"Oh, no. That's just the amount of time needed for the
intense, bond-forming stage. Ideally, this primary caregiver
would remain in Isabelle's life indefinitely. At least until
she's school age."

"Holy Schmoly," Holt muttered. Where was he going to find
someone who'd agree to that?

The doctor placed his hands palm down on the desk, as if he
were about to stand up. "Do you have any questions?"

Too many to ask. Holt didn't know the first thing about
regular babies, much less babies with issues. "Any special

"Try to get her to take a bottle as often as possible. She
needs to gain weight. And she should be under the care of a
local pediatrician. If she doesn't put on weight pretty soon,
she'll need to be hospitalized and put on a feeding tube."

Holy Diaper Pails. Holt swallowed back a rising sense of

"What do I feed her?"

"Formula mixed with a supplement."

"We have all of that written down." Mrs. Tucker handed him a
typed sheet of paper. "Here you go." The doctor pulled a sheaf
of papers out of the folder, and handed them to Holt as well.
"And here are Isabelle's medical records. You'll need to get
her next immunization in a two weeks."

"Okay." Holt folded the papers and shoved them in his jacket

The doctor rose and circled the desk. "It was nice meeting
you. Good luck."

Mrs. Tucker smiled, as if the need to find a nanny who'd make
a five-year commitment and the potential of feeding tubes were
cheery things to contemplate. "Well, why don't I go get little
Isabelle? I'm sure you're anxious to meet your daughter."

An unaccustomed wave of nervousness washed over Holt as she
bustled out the door. The crying grew louder and louder, and
then Mrs. Tucker walked back in the room, carrying what looked
like a screaming pink dress.

There was a baby hidden among the layers of frills and
ruffles, but her face was the same shade as her clothing. Holt
stared at the child. His child. This was his child, his flesh
and blood. She had a tuft of white-blond hair, blue eyes and
chubby cheeks, but the features that most drew Holt's eye were
her bright pink tonsils, which she was showing to full

"Isabelle, here's your daddy," said Mrs. Tucker.

Holt hesitantly reached out his arms, and Mrs. Tucker placed
the baby in them. Isabelle stiffened, kicked her
toothpick-thin legs against his chest, then cranked up the
volume of her yowls.

"Hey, there, sweetheart," Holt said. The baby pulled drew back
and screamed even louder.

What the heck was he supposed to do now? He looked
questioningly at Mrs. Tucker, but she was smiling like a
sunbeam, as if everything were perfectly fine. She held out a
pink ruffled diaper bag. "She's just been fed and changed, so
she's all set to go. Do you have a baby seat in your car?"

Holt nodded. Equipment was a topic he could understand; you
couldn't play a sport or tackle a job without the right
equipment. He was fully outfitted with baby gear.
Unfortunately, he didn't know how to use any of it. A man at
the car rental agency had helped him fasten the baby seat into
the back of the rental car.

Man, it was hard to think over the baby's screams.

"Well, good. Sounds like you're all set."

All set? Surely they weren't going to just turn the child over
to him, with no training or further instructions. Holt looked
questioningly at the Mrs. Tucker. "You mean ... we're done?"

Mrs. Tucker nodded. "She's all yours. We don't need to do any
further since you're the natural father."

He was the biological father, which was quite a different
thing from being a natural. It seemed completely irresponsible
of these people to just hand a baby over to him especially one
who was screaming like Isabelle.

He raised the child higher on his shoulder and awkwardly
patted her bony back. She stiffened and pulled her head away,
as if she wanted as little of her body touching him as
possible, and yelled all the louder.

"Good luck," Mrs. Tucker called.

Man, am I ever going to need it, Holt thought as he headed
down the hall, gingerly carrying the screeching baby, the pink
diaper bag dangling from his arm. From the way this fatherhood
gig was starting off, he was going to need boatloads,
truckfuls, entire cargo carriers of luck delivered daily to
his door.


Excerpted from The Babe Magnet
by Robin Wells
Copyright © 2004 by Robin Wells.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2004

    Robin, at her absolute best!

    I began reading The Babe Magnet early in the morning of a day in which I had a full agenda, but I eventually sacrificed everything I had planned because I couldn¿t put the book down. The plot is ingenious. And, of course, Robin really knows her babies and thus has created one of the most likeable baby characters you¿ll ever read about. I liked the intricate plot elements that all came together at the end of the story. The secondary characters are well developed and lovable and almost comprise stories of their own. This book brought tears of joy and tears of sorrow to my eyes. It is truly a comedy in every sense of the word. The whole time I was reading Babe Magnet, I kept thinking: this would make a great movie. I also enjoyed reading about all the famous New Orleans locales, such as: Café du Monde, Jackson Square, Commander¿s Palace, Tulane University, Windsor Court Hotel, Aquarium of the Americas, Arnaud¿s Restaurant, Lake Pontchartrain, and St Charles Avenue, to mention only a few. Robin¿s eloquent manner of expression is tops in Babe Magnet. Witness the passage: ¿...the twenty-story vantage point of his Canal Street office gave an unobstructed view of the Mississippi River¿s crescent curve at the foot of the French Quarter¿. Babe Magnet is a great book. Anyone reading it would love it and would be glad they had read it. Don¿t let another day go by without reading Babe Magnet. I recommend it very highly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2004

    Babe magnet

    one of the best cont romances thjat i have read... robin has an awesome way of discribind any posiable situation. it is a must have

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2004

    Reader magnet...

    Holt can barely remember Ella Sinclair. Yet, his is the name she left to call in an emergency, and the Dallas Police Department considered her death just that since she left behind an infant daughter, Isabel. Holt Laden is listed as the father, although all they shared was a quick affair. ....................... New father Holt is clueless. Isabel is fussy, but a ray of light comes when she responds to a voice on the radio. Stevie Stedquest may not have any children, but she is the acknowledged radio version of Dr Spock. Holt contacts her for help, and then goes a step further. He proposes to the lovely young lady. Unlike Holt, Stevie believes marriage is until death do us part, so an inconvenient marriage of convenience is not something she normally would consider. But Isabel needs her and she has come to love... Isabel. The fact that Holt is charming and handsome is immaterial. The rules are to be followed exactly, no fooling around with anyone until the marriage is over and Isabel has adjusted to things. Neither counted on the magnetism between them. ................... *** You get three romances for the price of one in this winsome book. The serious topics of commitment and love are humorously addressed in a light and easy to read manner. Each character, except Isabel, gets to deal with their own ghosts and exorcise them in the best way. If only reality could mirror fiction, life would go more smoothly. ***

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2004

    Adorable romance

    The call from a Dallas police officer informed Holt Landen that not only had Ella Sinclair died in a car crash, but the heiress named him as the father of her child. He barely remembers the flighty woman he had a one night stand with in Aspen, but the DNA proves he is also the father of a six month old child Isabelle with her. Holt leaves New Orleans to pick up his daughter only to learn that his daughter suffers from Attachment Disorder.................................... Holt is desperate for help so when Isabelle stops crying while hearing New Orleans radio parenting advice show host Stevie Stedquest speak on the radio, he offers the childless Stevie a deal. They wed in a marriage of convenience in which she provides Isabelle with proper loving nurturing and she has that child she wants to raise. However, Stevie and Holt are opposites in every foreseeable way except that Isabel has hooked both of them. Now can the baby play matchmaker when neither of the two adults wants the other though love has blossomed between Stevie and Holt.................................... THE BABE MAGNET is an intriguing contemporary romance even with using the Stone Age gimmick of a marriage of convenience and a traumatized baby to bring the lead couple together. Though obviously opposites, Holt and Stevie are caring people, who readers will like since both try to do the right thing for Isabelle. However, the infant owns the show as she is unable to allow anyone to reach out to the darkness with love that is until her daddy and her new mommy shower her with affection because everybody needs hugs...................... Harriet Klausner

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