I am, once again, trying to make some inroads into the humongous TBR pile–particularly the print one, since it’s the one displacing everything and everyone chez aztec–by participating in our very own Super Librarian Wendy’s TBR Challenge.
This month, the theme is shorts, and it so happens I have a rather large number of category romances laying about, so I went digging and found this little gem, Sandra Hyatt’s debut title, published in early 2009 by Harlequin. My copy is autographed by the late Ms Hyatt, and I want to say (but I may be completely wrong) that I got it at RWA 2009 in DC.
Ms Hyatt died unexpectedly at 46, in August 2011 while attending the annual Romance Writers of New Zealand conference, and leaving behind two adolescent children and her husband, Scott.
Having the Billionaire’s Baby, by Sandra Hyatt
I confess that I often have issues with category romance. For one, the length of the stories tends to limit how well certain issues are addressed, so readers who are not very conversant with the tropes and shorthands often used by authors can be lost–or, as is most often the case with me, become frustrated by the same. For another, Harlequin has fairly strict guidelines regarding language–not just curse words, you understand, but how graphic can it be to describe body parts and what goes where during a sex scene. And finally, I’m usually quite impatient with most category romance heroines, because most of them tend towards the ‘doormat’ and/or incredibly young and naïve type.
I cannot tell you happy I was to read a heroine who is smart–and not because I’m told she’s smart, but because I see her acting in smart, sensible ways.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Behold, the (awful!!!!) back cover blurb:
In bed with her client?
That business card couldn’t be right. Callie Jamieson had just spent one impulsive, passionate night in the arms of the hottest, most irresistible stranger she’d ever met. And morning’s light revealed her lover to be new PR client, billionaire Nick Brunicardi…
One Sizzling night of passion, then she was gone. Nick was determined to find and have his fill of his mysterious seductress…a seductress, he discovered, who was carrying his heir!
(If you can, forget you read that)
The story starts at a wedding reception somewhere in Sydney on New Year’s Eve. Calypso aka Callie attends not so much because she wants to but more because her pride won’t let her miss it. Jason, the groom, is her current business partner and erstwhile lover/fiancé. Melody, the bride, manages Cypress Rise, one of Callie’s PR firm’s most important clients.
Understandably, Callie is not having as much fun as other people during the reception, so she takes a long break meditating out in the balcony. As luck would have it, Nick, one of the groomsmen, heads out to make (and take) a couple of phone calls, and two solitary people have a lovely meet cute.
One thing leads to another, the scene fades to black, and in the morning, as Callie is getting ready to leave him a brief note and perhaps her full name and phone number, she happens to see his business card. Nick is actually Dominic Brunicadi–brother of the bride. Callie realizes the whole thing has the potential to explode in her face, so she quietly leaves, hoping her uncharacteristic impulsiveness won’t come back to haunt her. After all, the only thing her wonderful one-time lover knows is her full first name…
Of course, if that were the case there would be no book, and that would be an absolute shame, because this is a lovely, well-written story about two people who are so not ready for each other.
Nick is not only a successful businessman–who, by the way, inherited a goodly portion of his current wealth. Having lost their mother when he was thirteen and his sister barely three years old, he’s also a very protective and, shall we say, involved older brother. He’s willing to like his newly minted brother-in-law because he’s never seen Melody as happy as she seems to be with him.
The fly in the ointment–or so Melody thinks–is Jason’s clingy, perhaps even conniving ex lover and current business partner.
Since Nick is already in New Zealand for business, taking a couple of hours to make sure the little tart leaves Mel’s man alone presents little problem. Heck, it may even provide some distraction from his uncharacteristic preoccupation with the woman who vanished the morning after some pretty incredible sex.
Shenanigans obviously ensue when it turns out that Jason’s ex and Nick’s missing woman are one and the same.
For her part, Callie has spend the first month of the new year realizing a number of things about herself–among them, that she’s not as broken up about her ex as she thought she would be. Dealing with Nick in overbearing older brother mode, and with the unforeseen consequences of a broken condom provide ample opportunity for further growth.
I truly enjoyed these two characters, particularly Callie. They both grow during the novel, but the starting point is of two intelligent, sensible, responsible adults.
Callie has no problem calling Nick on his arrogance, while acknowledging to herself just how attracted she is to him. She is also struggling with the news of her pregnancy–one the one hand, she would have liked to be settled by now, since she’s almost thirty. Also, not for nothing was she in a six year relationship with Jason–she does want a family.
On the other hand, she never thought she’d be a single mother, and the fact that Nick is determined to be a true father to the child, regardless of its parents’ relationship, doesn’t make the actual circumstances of her pregnancy any easier on Callie to accept.
What I like the most is that, despite the clichéd premise, these characters behave like real, intelligent, self-aware people. The reader is privy to their struggles to cope with unexpected feelings and unforeseen circumstances, which are absolutely valid in the context of their lives and personal baggage.
And throughout it all, their main concern is to make the best possible decisions for their baby. They talk, they marvel together at the miracle of this unexpected but now so very wanted baby. They agree on some things, argue about some others, but they don’t lose sight of what is truly important. Callie does not flounce off to ‘be independent’ and shit by having a secret baby, and Nick does not coerce her into marriage.
If I have one quibble, is that the time Nick and Callie spend together before their happy ending is fairly brief–if quite intense, for obvious reasons. It could be argued, though, that this trial by fire gives them a firm foundation and sound tools to make a success of their life together. I like to think so.
Having The Billionaire’s Baby gets a 9.00 out of 10