Having the Billionaire's Baby
by Anne Haven
(Harl. American #824, $4.25, PG-13) 0-373-16824-1
Reading Having the Billionaire's Baby tired my eyes. Not from reading it till dawn, but because every time I turned the page, I'd roll my eyes. This is one of those books where you have a hero and heroine who do things that make no sense at all to the reader.

Serena Jones has been a "plain Jane" all of her life, a young woman who has never spoken out of turn or lived life the way she wants it. When she attends the wedding of the man of her dreams to a blond bombshell, all Serena wants to do is put an end to the ceremony. She makes a move to do so, but the bride's hunky ex-husband grabs mousy little Serena and whisks her out of the church before she can do any damage.

This hunk turns out to be Graham Richards, an amazingly successful businessman and billionaire. At the reception, Serena and Graham talk and get to know each other. The next thing you know, our little Serena is whisking the billionaire off to his hotel room for a night of mind-blowing, forget-that-one-true-love sex.

Oh, yes. I forgot one other thing. Twenty-two-year-old Serena is a virgin.

Graham, who is somewhere in his mid-30s, has never been in love, even with his gorgeous ex-wife, Elaine. But meeting Serena begins to change all that. Serena disappears the next morning from his San Francisco hotel room, but over the next few months, she's all he can think about.

Serena's got another thing to think about, and that's that she's about to become an unwed mother. She confesses this to her father, a well-known San Francisco businessman, and her stepmother, who seems to be some kind of society matron. Fessing up is a Big Deal for Serena -- it's a first step toward her independence.

Through a well-meaning phone call, Graham, now in London, hears that his reception date is pregnant and he does the math. He drops everything to return to the U.S. to talk to Serena. Seeing her visibly pregnant suddenly changes what parenthood means to Graham. He offers to marry Serena and to be a good father to their child, but Serena rejects his offer, based on some of the things Graham confessed to her the night they met.

The problems with this book are rampant. First of all, I didn't buy the whole set-up at the beginning of the book. It would have been totally out of character for a shy, never-shake-it-up woman to pull a Dustin Hoffman in a church. Then pulling the sex goddess routine at the reception served to alienate me further from this character. She's desperate enough to ruin a wedding because she's madly in love with the groom, but hours later she's horny enough to jump in bed with another guy? I don't think so.

Other parts of this book are unbelievable too, like when Graham shows up for Thanksgiving dinner at the Joneses. Serena's father proceeds to insult him and treat him rudely, all because Serena has introduced him as her "boyfriend." (The Joneses want their daughter to marry this other houseguest who seems to not mind that Serena is six-months along with some other guy's baby.) But Graham Richards is a very public businessman. Wouldn't someone like Mr. Jones realize who was eating dinner at his table if this Graham were so well known in business circles?

Another part of this book that gave me trouble was its depiction of wealth. I wonder how much time the author spent researching the wealthy. For example, many of the characters, including Serena herself, repeatedly call Graham a billionaire, both to his face and when he's not around. Since Serena and her family are no slouches in the money department, this seemed to be overkill, and it made Serena's character look tacky. Serena hasn't a care in the world because of her family money, so what difference does it make to her that Graham is a billionaire?

Neither Serena nor Graham were particularly compelling characters, but Havers did a nice job with sensuality in the book. The writing was also very good, and several times I smiled at her attempts at humor. But because of its unbelievable plot and inconsistent characterization, this is not a book I can heartily recommend.

-- Diana Burrell

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