I have to confess. Sometimes I really like a tearjerker. This story is a romance and it has a HEA, of course, but there are lots of hurt feelings and pining away before you get there. And I loved it.
Ryan Nix is willing to go see his newborn nephew in the hospital. Yes, his wife and child died tragically, but he loves his sister and she’s just had a baby. But when he shows up, he sees a tiny little baby girl next to the bouncing baby boy in the nursery. And the hospital card says he’s her father. In other words, things start where lots of romances start winding down.
Ryan goes off to confront the mother - Emma Davenport. Yes, they’d been intimate a few months ago, but he’d told her to forget it when she starting hinting they might become a family. He doesn’t want any more family or any more heartache. But Emma isn’t well and he realizes the baby is probably his and he should have been gentler in breaking things off with Emma. Ryan knows he has to take some responsibility in taking care of the fragile mother and baby.
Emma is used to being abandoned. She has no intention of intruding any more on Ryan or his family. But she’s weak and needs care and somehow the whole Nix family descends on her. Even when she tries to escape her weaknesses - both physical and romantic - the Nix family keeps following her.
Emma starts off by seeming like one of those fragile heroines with nothing but pride to keep her going. You expect the hero to bully her. But he tries hard not to and he learns. Emma doesn’t knuckle under, either. That shows both Ryan’s good qualities as well as Emma’s. By the end of the story Emma has what she wants and she shows she’s stronger than she seems. Ryan could easily have become one of those I-know-what’s-good-for-you heroes . . . in fact he starts off that way. By the end he’s discovered you can’t make people do what you think is best for them. In fact, sometimes what you think is best actually isn’t.
I was touched when Ryan’s misunderstanding about what Emma wants almost literally tears him apart. (But, like I said, I do like tearjerkers.) He can’t break the impasse he’s created, so Emma has to step in this time. Emma’s understanding of the problem and her solution makes both characters more complex than they seemed at the start.
This isn’t great romance. I struggled past the beginning with the sickly heroine (not my favorite type.) There are stereotypes in the description of the characters and some of the Silhouette conventions are a little confining here. But I read the story from start to finish without a stop and sometimes I rooted for Emma, sometimes for Ryan, just the way the author wanted. And when I was done, I thought back about the book and still enjoyed it. What more could you want for an afternoon’s read?