Oh, secret babies. These Harlequins are so much fun. It's hard to pull off the "secret baby" storyline without it coming off utterly ridiculous and this one starts out above the curve though it ends up undermining itself. Here's the official synopsis with my comments:
Discarded for breaking his rules… Naïve Phoebe Brown fell for Mediterranean--
In other words, who gives a fuck what country this guy's from? He's Italian or Greek or Spanish or Sicilian. It doesn't matter. The Harlequin readership knows they all look alike: cue in the dark hair, dark skin, giant honking famblee, inexplicable height, and massive hard-on for loose socialites and archaic traditions.
--magnate Jed Sabbides--
JED? LOL WUT?
--after he wined, dined and bedded her with a fervour that made her feel cherished.
Because everyone knows sexing = lub
But when Phoebe happily announced she was pregnant Jed was appalled.
How dare she!? How could this have happened!? HOW? ...OHHHH.
Didn’t she understand – she was only a pleasing distraction? Sadly Phoebe lost the man she loved--
Loved for God knows what reason. The sexings, I guess. He was just THAT. GODDAMN. GOOD.
--and her baby… Claimed for having his child! So it is with disbelief that, years later, Jed discovers Phoebe has a little boy…who looks just like him!
HMMM. Could it be his? Can he has son nao?
This probably the fourth or fifth I've read by author Jacqueline Baird. She sets up the couple and their past in the first two chapters and devotes the rest to rekindling their relationship, which I liked. Some other Harlequins seem to be fond of meandering in time and inserting several confusing, boring flashbacks no one really gives a fuck about. Baird is succint in this regard and we spend the majority of the story in the present. Good on her.
Thirty-year-old Jed Sabbides is a hot, foreign rich guy like most of these dudes are. Brother made his money first as an online poker millionaire. Hey, it's possible. He uses his poker winnas to set up a successful investment firm, later taking over his father's company Sabbides Corporation. Overkill much? Having a dude get rich by his mad poka skillz alone would've been tiz-ight and hella more interesting. But Baird decided to make him the Harlequin Standard Greek Tycoon™ after all. Boo, he was already rich by default through daddy. Oh yeah, and he doesn't believe in marriage. HAHAHA.
Phoebe is the requisite Harlequin blonde heroine: an innocent, slender, blue-eyed, creamy-skinned, 5'8" virgin nine years Jed's junior. She wants to finish her college degree and travel the world: first stop, the tiny peninsula nation of Jed's pants. He manipulates her into giving up the goods and after a year on tour--if you get my drift--she's in love with him. In fact, she's fantasizing about marriage despite that he TOLD HER FROM THE START he would not marry her. They don't even so much as live together. *headdesk*
She tactlessly tells him she's pregnant and hell breaks loose. They part ways a short time later under the assumption that Phoebe miscarried. Wires are crossed of course and she thinks he never cared about her or the baby. Jed... well Jed doesn't really HAVE an excuse. He does nothing to overtly suggest that he ever loved her or to disprove that she was just a warmer for his meatstick after all.
They meet again some five years later. Despite having a new woman in his life--family friend and almost-fiancée Sophia--Jed becomes obsessed with Phoebe again. That's right, he was on the verge of proposing even though he doesn't believe in marriage. Make up yo' damn mind, foo'. He is floored to discover Phoebe is a single mother and her nearly five-year-old son Ben looks JUST LIKE JED. Yes, it is his kid. You can guess what happened.
Jed is naturally pissed and hilarity ensues. Well, not really. After a good start, it gets kinda dull. Jed proceeds to manipulate his way back into Phoebe's life. Somewhere around Chapter Eight or Nine he ends up bagging her again. Without contraception, he's too happy to note. UGH. Way for her not to learn her lesson. And she teaches sex ed classes at a school. ARGH.
At one point Phoebe confronts almost-fiancée Sophia: "In a way Phoebe almost felt sorry for Sophia. She had come closer than any other female to marrying the most eligible bachelor in Greece." Good lord, the conceit! Over the selfish, manipulative asshat that Phoebe believed for years had treated her like a disposable whore and wanted her to abort her baby. Considering Sophia was never jerked around this way, Phoebe should stick to feeling sorrier for herself.
Jed eventually admits his love for Phoebe in the last damn chapter. In fact, he loved her from the moment he saw her. HUH? ORLY? Then why did he SIT ON HIS ASS FOR FIVE YEARS and never use his considerable resources to win Phoebe back? Then Jed sweetens the pot: "I never even looked at another woman for over two years since you left." That admission is soooo special and flatters Phoebe because Jed is a "highly-sexed man." Him going without cooter for a lil' while is, like, a big step. Never mind he started porking Sophia and whoever when his highly-sexedness returned. He's a proud Greek male after all, all Greekness all the Greeking time. Meanwhile, Phoebe's had nothing but Hitachi and Kenny G. Jed likes the way Phoebe rolls. It gives "him immense pride and satisfaction to know he was the only man who had ever made love to her." HYUCK.
And of course, in the end the whole famblee gets together for a big Greekity, Greek wedding. Jed's father, who was supposedly at his death bed, gets his mack on with Phoebe's Aunt Jemma who now lives in Greece, thus keepin' it in the family y'all. Ben magically speaks fluent Greek like a Greekian should. Phoebe pooped out twins, giving Asshole "the heir, the spare, and the bonus." Yeah, real nice. And thus their kids shall grow up to hate them both.
With less reliance on the tired Harlequin tropes, a more contrite, devoted hero, and a heroine who isn't so ready to fling her panties off and her brain with them, this probably would've been a more enjoyable read. The ending was tied up so neatly with a bow I almost choked on ribbon. I did, for the record, like the first few chapters.
Three acorns out of five.