The child he didn’t know he had . . .
Andrew Yates has come to a decision: it’s time to stop sowing those oats and start a family. But searching for a bride isn’t as simple as he’d hoped, and many of the respectable women of his acquaintance feel . . .lacking. Then beautiful, feisty Wilhelmina “Billie” Wells arrives at the family ranch with a toddler in her arms, claiming Drew is the father!
The woman he didn’t know he loved . . .
Billie had no choice but to show up at Destiny in search of Drew. For the sake of their child, she’s willing to leave him with his father so the boy can have a better life, but then, before she can blink, she’s saying “I do” in front of a preacher in a marriage of convenience. All Billie and Drew have in common is the heat that brought them together, but can their sizzling passion lead to an everlasting love?
Drew had been making time with Billie – a whore in San Francisco – for about 2 years. He takes off for Mexico with the thought that he would find himself a wife. He doesn’t have any luck but when he returns he sees Rosaline Ruiz and starts courting her. He heads to the bordello where Billie works but she’s gone. He’s told by Prince DuChance, son of the owner of the bordello, that he has no idea where she is – which is a lie.
Billie has been a whore for almost 10 years and she’s not ashamed of what she does. When she finds out she’s pregnant she obviously has no idea who the father is but she decides that she wants to keep the baby but asks Pearl, owner of the bordello the Black Pearl, if she can find a good home for the child. Pearl agrees that Billie will give up the child when it’s a year (as so many babies didn’t live longer than that). She works on her back until she starts to show and then does work around the bordello scrubbing floors and other work. When she’s in her 7th month she goes to live with Addy who was the housekeeper at the bordello. She’s treated well there and when she gives birth she’s immediately attached to the child – something she had no idea would happen. When she sees the birthmark on the child’s back that is an exact replica of the one that Drew has on his back she immediately knows who the father of her child is. When Prince DuChance comes to get the baby after a year Billie doesn’t want to give him up and runs to save herself and her child, Antonio.
Billie heads to Drew’s family home (I think somewhere around Stockton, maybe?) for protection for her child but interrupts Drew’s engagement party. Drew isn’t exactly happy to see Billie even though he once treated her like a queen. When she says that the toddler is his he flips out and gets angry but not as angry as he gets when his fiance’s mother breaks off his engagement. Drew and Billie are barely civil to each other but end up getting married and eventually come to grips with the rest of their lives. Drew starts to see Billie as the kind, giving woman that she is and Billie starts to see some of the man that she fell in love with years ago. Unfortunately with Prince DuChance still after Billie life will not be quiet.
The main characters:
Drew was what I would think of a regular guy. Though his family had wealth he worked as a lawyer and enjoyed it greatly. He wasn’t a man tied down to a woman so being with Billie whenever he felt like it was great. He was so kind to her – buying her pretty clothes, giving her side money that her madam didn’t know about, teaching her to read, it was all very sweet. That was until Billie ruined his engagement. Wow – did that guy have a temper, or what? Of course he met his temper match in Billie but I still thought he could have been nicer. Once he wrapped his mind around things and finally realized that his life had changed completely he opened himself up to his feelings for her and turned into a nice guy again.
Billie was wonderful. I so liked that woman. She had gumption and she wasn’t about to let anyone bring her down. She wasn’t ashamed of being a whore – even after she was married to a wealthy land/ranch owner. She knew who she was and you could take it or leave it. She loved wholeheartedly and that gave her many gold stars in my book.
The secondary characters were no less interesting. We met Drew’s mother who was a wonderful grandmother, Drew’s brother and sister-in-law and a couple of minor additions to the story. All of them were well written.
The way the book was written we got excitement and intrigue at the beginning and the end of the book and then romance and settling in at the ranch in the middle. The middle wasn’t any less good but it was definitely more staid than the other two parts. This was my first book by Beverly Jenkins and I’ll be picking up more of hers in the future (I have to find out what happens with Drew’s brother, Noah!).
Rating: 3.75 out of 5