Lara McKee is living life carefully now. Her first marriage died in a blaze of agony, including her miscarriage. Working for Cole Cassidy is her life’s focus now, and even though she finds the man incredibly sexy, she’s turned off that part of her life. Cole too has been soured on marriage. A forced marriage based on a pregnancy resulting from a drunken binge, Cole is now a widower with an infant that isn’t even his. And that hurts the most. He loved Molly from the minute he found out about her, and that love grew when he first held her. Now all he can feel when he sees her is his dead wife lies and deceit, and what a fool he was to fall for them.
Unable to care for Molly, he hires a string of help that is anything but. He develops the idea that his personal assistant, Lara, is just the woman to handle that job. All he has to do is convince her to marry him. Convinced Cole is crazy, Lara nonetheless accepts his proposal to be able to be a mother for the adorable Molly. Told she is unable to have children after her miscarriage, she snatches this chance with both hands. But when Cole and Lara are forced into close confines, the buried sex drive and desire both have denied comes roaring to the surface. With all of their messy issues, how can they possibly connect and be a real family?
Not a simple read, this was rife with tension and turmoil. While in usual "man" fashion Cole makes it all about him, there is Molly to consider. While he does what he must, he’s cold and unfeeling about it. I had a hard time warming up to his character as a result of that attitude and my practical nature wondered why counseling wasn't addressed. But his agony and angst was what drove the story, so I understand the omission.
Lara on the other hand was an open book and delightful in her enjoyment of the baby. The simmering tension and erotic dreams both harbor for one another set the stage for what was sure to be a cataclysmic consummation, but that wasn’t what the reader got. The author was very creative in how she handled that, and that added some mystery as to how this seemingly predictable story would unfold. I didn’t get the anticipated story, but what I got was better. And the evolution and realization of their erotic dreams was worth the wait, as was two hurt people finally finding out what real love is.
After her husband was killed and she lost her unborn child, Sarah Madison believed she’d never find love and happiness again. Instead, she has channeled all her energy into her job as assistant to the sexy CEO of Guardian Security. When he proposes a marriage of convenience, the chance to become a mother is tempting, and so is her new prospective husband. His only flaw—the distance he keeps between himself and his sweet little daughter.
Reno Sullivan’s life is a mess. His first marriage was based on a lie, and the fiery death of his wife left him to raise a baby—a constant reminder of his wife’s deceit. He desperately needs someone to mother the child and take charge of his personal life, and his no-nonsense assistant is perfect for the job. Unfortunately, the alluring woman in the bedroom next to his chips away at his determination to maintain the hands-off clause in their agreement and the ice around his heart.
A near-tragedy and Reno’s fear of love could kill Sarah’s hopes of turning their fake marriage into happily ever after…
This book was previously published under the title The Bargain but has been heavily revised.