Millionaire Dad: Wife Needed
by Natasha Oakley
(Silh. Romance #1844, $4.25, G) ISBN 0-373-19844-2
***
A new British author is introduced with Millionaire Dad: Wife Needed. This is a rather sentimental story that starts slow and has a huge amount of set up before the romance takes off; but it ultimately works.

Nick Regan-Phillips is a very complicated man. He is currently trying to raise his five-year-old daughter, who is deaf. Nick is divorced and his ex, Ana, a fashion designer, had turned over the raising of their daughter to her mother, who is now deceased. Nick has agreed to let Rosie live with him. What he discovers is a lonely young girl. She uses sign language to communicate, but neither her father nor any of the nannies he has hired can understand her. It isn’t until Lydia Stanford enters their lives that things start to change.

Lydia is a career journalist with a myriad of tragedies in her life, making her the woman she is today. One tragedy occurred when her parents, who were deaf, were killed crossing a road when she was just 18. Lydia has battled the guilt she has always felt for abandoning her 12-year-old sister to relatives while she went off to college. There are plenty of other things that have caused Lydia guilt. But she has built her career and is so successful that she has been asked to write the authorized biography of Wendy Bennington. Wendy is a wealthy philanthropist and highly acclaimed political activist. It is a plum assignment. Wendy is also Nick’s godmother.

Nick and Lydia meet when they both come to check on Wendy and discover that she has fallen and broken her ankle and suffered a small TIA (mini-stroke). Nick seems almost hostile to Lydia, even though it is clear he knows she is there for a legitimate reason. Nick is extremely leery of Lydia, believing her to be like his ex-wife – selfish and more concerned with advancing her career than loving anyone or caring for anyone long-term. Nick was badly hurt by Ana, especially when she left him with his best friend from college, a man who could gain her entrance into the social circles she wanted to enter.

Lydia and Nick get a chance to further their relationship when Wendy agrees to live with Nick while she recuperates, thus causing Lydia to come to the house to work. When Lydia stumbles into a messy situation where Rosie has tried to run away and through signing, asks Lydia to communicate for her with her father, things get interesting. Lydia and Nick are attracted to each other, but have much to overcome. Nick resents Lydia’s profession, fearing she is just out to get a story and will expose his daughter to gossip because of her famous mother. Lydia is appalled that Nick has had this child five years and had made no attempt to learn how to communicate with her. Both are treating their biased assumptions as facts and this leads to conflict in their relationship.

I found this story intriguing on the one hand. There were so many complicating factors that it is impossible to list them all in this review. It takes a good three quarters of the book before we fully understand the two main characters and all the events that have shaped their views and attitudes. On the other hand, it is this very high level of complexity that leaves the romance as almost an aside with a sense that it is rushed at the end. Luckily, because of the presence of the little girl who is blossoming under her father’s newfound love and attention, there is enough tenderness and warmth to make the reader feel good about the relationship that is building.

Millionaire Dad: Wife Needed is an enjoyable book with an intricacy in the plot rarely seen in a category novel. It is a fine way to be introduced to a new author.

--Shirley Lyons


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