Beauty and the Black Sheep

His Comfort and Joy

From the First

An Irresistible Bachelor

Man in a Million

 
The Billionaire Next Door
by Jessica Bird
(Silh. Spec. Ed. # 1844, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-24844-X
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This is the start of a series about the O’Banyon brothers and if this one is any indication, readers will want to read all three. The Billionaire Next Door features middle brother Sean and a lovely nurse named Lizzie.

The O’Banyons are not your typical family. Three boys (Mac, Sean and Billy) were raised by their father after their mother died when they were under 10. Eddie, the father, turned to booze to get him through his grief and sadly, also turned to physical abuse to appease his sense of helplessness. The boys grew up protecting each other and have many scars as adults. Billy went on to play football and Mac is in Special Ops. Sean has risen above their lower middle class roots of South Boston and is a CEO and major financier. He has been all work and women have only been an afterthought to assuage his needs. Trust is a major issue, with only his brothers in his inner circle.

Eddie, meanwhile, stayed on in the duplex they called home and has just died. He died a lonely man who had kicked the booze habit and apparently had major regrets for the way he treated his sons. He had been befriended by his tenant for the last two years, who knows nothing of his brutality, only his loneliness. Lizzie Bond is a loner herself, having only her partially-disabled mother as a support group. Because of her mother’s cognitive difficulties, Lizzie has actually been the parent in the relationship for a long time, dealing with her mother who flits about exploring her artistic talents. Lizzie is currently working as a nurse in a clinic that has tight funding. She also moonlights as an ER nurse. Lizzie has been taking care of Eddie, even helping him pay for his medicines and bills. At times, she paid for things and he reimbursed her at the end of the month when he got his check. He had given her Sean’s name to call as an emergency contact.

Sean and Lizzie meet up when Eddie dies. Sean is attracted but is leery of a woman who had any relationship with the Eddie he knew, a man he had not seen in over 15 years. He is certain that Lizzie is after his money. But the more he sees her and spends time with her; he realizes she is just a nice person. He hides who he is, basically enjoying the fact that she seems to like him for who he is, not for his power or his money. Lizzie doesn’t understand the relationship Sean had with his father, since she is unaware of the abuse. And Sean doesn’t want her to know, feeling it somehow diminishes him.

This story is about a complex relationship and it is filled with discoveries and the wonder of falling in love. There are tender scenes, funny scenes and poignant scenes. The two each have their inner turmoil and yet, they seem to be a match when together. They work out differences and even when at an impasse, they act as people who care. Sean is alpha and yet has a tender side which he just doesn’t know how to deal with. Lizzie is vulnerable and often feeling overwhelmed, but is strong when she needs to be and doesn’t want anyone, especially Sean to take her for granted. They work out their issues of trust, even when it looks like they have hit a dead end.

The glimpses we see of Billy and Mac are intriguing, as they are meant to be, setting up the next stories in the series without being too obvious. I, for one, will be looking for them and hoping they are as enjoyable and interesting as The Billionaire Next Door.

Shirley Lyons

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