Billionaires and babies go together, and it’s not just for the alliteration.
Gwen Radley has made a life for herself almost entirely on her own. A product of the foster care system, she managed to get an education and become a physical therapist, and she loves her job working with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed hospital. A few months ago she became friends with Ben Anderson when he was a patient and one tequila filled night led to a hot and heavy night prior to his getting shipped out.
Now it sucks that she has to go to his funeral after an IED claimed his life. The ten-weeks-pregnant Gwen knows this nice guy would have been a great dad and a good friend to her in her pregnancy, but all she has now is a sonogram to slide into his coffin. The high-end funeral parlor complete with bodyguards has Gwen quickly realizing that the low-key soldier she knew was actually one of the heirs to the Anderson fortune, money based on the success of football star Rocky Anderson who founded a billion-dollar fitness apparel corporation decades ago.
While Ben’s mother is elated to discover Gwen’s pregnancy, his older – and she has to be honest, hotter – brother, Carter, sees nothing but a gold-digging liar the instant the sonogram photo falls out of her purse. When a series of events has her reluctantly living in the Anderson mansion, Gwen is determined to pay her own way and not take any money from Ben’s family. She grows to care about Judith and especially Rocky, who is wheelchair bound after a debilitating stroke, too depressed after the loss of his son and his mobility to try and improve.
Carter Anderson has always been the good son, and as much as he loved his younger brother, he resented that Ben could go off to the military and follow his dream in ways that Carter never could. He’s an excellent CEO of the family company, Work It, and considering his brother’s death and his father’s health, that’s a good thing. After his scheming bitch of an ex-wife betrayed his trust and attempted to take him for everything he had, he’s known that most women are in it for the money.
As attractive and compelling as he finds Gwen, Carter knows that she’s a woman like any other, and after he reads the background check with her foster home experience, he’s labeled her a ladder-climber as much as any of the blond floozies he squires around the city as one of DC sexiest bachelors. The problem is that the corporation is structured so that Ben’s baby – if it is Ben’s – inherits a third of the company, and there’s no way that Carter is going to stand for his family’s hard work resting in the hands of a manipulative stranger. He needs to charm Gwen enough to get her to sign the paperwork putting him in charge of the baby’s shares.
But the more he gets to know Gwen, the more she defies his expectations. This is a woman who wants to improve the world around her, from his father’s health to the soldiers she helps every day, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell Carter how his company can help. Denying his fascination with Gwen doesn’t last for long, but when Carter still insists on lumping her in with the women from his past, no epiphany on his part may salvage the fragile love he may have destroyed.
I have to warn you, Carter is a grade A asshole in every respect, but Lea Nolan’s choice of starting from that point is brilliant as the book becomes a vehicle for this character’s transformation. Gwen is a great person who has had a crappy stream of life obstacles that she’s managed to overcome time and again. Nolan’s secondary characters of the Anderson parents and Carter’s best friend/corporate attorney are well-developed yet never dominate the book, offering exactly the right amount of support. Being an Indulgence novel, the physical part of the relationship takes a while to develop, but in this case the pacing feels spot-on as these two people really don’t know each other, and Carter has a long row to hoe in terms of his personal development. Honestly, if it were me, I’m not sure I would have accepted his apology without more reassurance, but Gwen is a much better person than me. 🙂
I really enjoyed this novel and Nolan’s writing in particular, so I’ll be checking out more of her work as she adds to her adult contemporary romance titles. With writing friends like Laura Kaye and Christi Barth (who she lists as beta readers), it’s no surprise to discover this relatively new author producing a novel that leaves the reader wanting more.
Don’t wait nine months to check out His Billion Dollar Baby, do it now, especially as Entangled offers its new release discount. 🙂 Happy reading!