Philadelphia businessman Justin Bond walked out on his wife Heather a year ago. The stress of her miscarriage a few months before, and his own inability to empathize and help her cope, was just too much, and he walked. Now his life has changed; the famous and breathtakingly wealthy Fortune family has found him, and shown him that he’s one of their own; he wants his family back. But things have changed for her, too…
From the get-go, we’re led to believe that Justin is very protective of the wife he has not seen in a year–despite the cognitive dissonance of that statement. He’s very dedicated, but he walked out. Right. But you see, as he must explain to Heather, he’s growing. The Fortune family has embraced him, and that love and acceptance and belonging is something he desperately wants, since he never had it growing up in foster-care. And part of that, he realizes, is that he misses her. So he invites her to Texas with him, to meet the Fortunes, and to give them some time alone to rekindle their old flame.
But there’s a problem, you see. Whilst he was away, she found out she was pregnant, and delivered their son, which he doesn’t yet know about. She has a secret, and for once it’s not another man–it’s their own son.
So she parks the baby with her mother, and off we go to San Antonio. Now, I’ve been there, many times, and I’ve gotta give Shirley Rogers some credit here; her descriptions of the Alamo City are very nicely done–she fleshed it out enough to make it a real place, but didn’t give us enough details that someone could call her on a problem if something changes in later years. I’ve had the problem in other stories where the described place just isn’t the same any more, which could confuse readers familiar with the actual place.
They go out, they have dinner, they shop, they meet Justin’s mother, they go to a charity ball that Ms. Fortune is involved with, they talk. A lot. Mostly about how much he missed her. And wants to make love to her, even though he promised not to try for it on this trip. And when they unsurprisingly do, it’s really, really good. True to the Desire line, we get to the sizzle pretty quickly, and it’s richly described.
…and in the morning light, he sees her stretch marks, and asks about them. And she tells him, and he folds like a cheap suit, and is right back to his angry, closed-up, prideful self. But he moves in with her anyway.
I tried to love this tale, truly I did. Some of the other stories of the Fortune family are ones that I’ve enjoyed a lot. But this one just felt like weak tea to me. Justin’s single-minded determination to get back in bed with his wife, and his insistence that he’s trying to grow into his feelings, are pretty believable, but his explosive reaction when he finds out about the baby just doesn’t sell with me; he had talked over and over about wanting a family with her, and when he finds out he’s got one, all he can think about for some weeks is that she hid it from him, when he’d made no attempts at all to contact her for a year?
The story, as far as it goes, is really not that bad. The descriptions of place and people, as I mentioned, are all quite nice, tidily and effectively done, without distracting us from the obvious attraction our main couple has for each other. What’s missing, for me, are their motivations for their behavior, particularly in Justin’s case. I finished this book last night, and in the light of morning, I can’t tell you with certainty just why he walked out on her in the first place! If that shortcoming is not a problem for you, and you’re looking for some really racy scenes in the hotel room, then this book will do just fine. If you’re a Fortunes fan, then this story fills in one more gap in the huge family epic, and is worth the read for that alone. I liked it…but I just couldn’t love it.