Forgotten Marriage

The Magnate’s Baby Promise
by Paula Roe
(Silh. Desire # 1962, $4.75, PG-13)  ISBN  978-0373-76962-9
Set in Australia, The Magnate’s Baby Promise is a standard marriage of convenience and unexpected baby story. The characters are well written, but the storyline is just too familiar for more than an acceptable rating.

Cal Prescott is the owner of his own company and the heir to a multi-million dollar corporation.  His mother and stepfather have assured him it is his. But then his stepfather decides to make it a contest between Cal and his estranged half-brother. The one to marry will get the company.

Cal has no interest in marrying, now or later. He resents the ultimatum, knowing it is being done out of spite. Luckily for him he doesn’t have to look far for a bride. Ava Reilly and Cal hooked up about nine weeks ago for a hot night of passion. When Cal thinks about a possible woman, he immediately imagines her as his bride. And then he discovers that 1) she is pregnant and 2) that her Outback home and inn is almost bankrupt. Now he has the means to get the woman.

Ava has taken over her family’s property and is struggling due to a lack of paying customers. Her parents are both deceased and she carries guilt from being the driver of a car in which her only sister was killed. Her only living relative is her Aunt Jillian., who lives with her and helps her with the little inn they operate. She is still reeling with the discovery of her pregnancy when Cal comes to her home and confronts her, accusing her of trying to blackmail him.  

One thing leads to the other and they end up engaged with a “deal” that Cal will pay to upgrade her inn into a resort if she will act as his hostess and wife at the society events he is required to attend and of course, have his child. While some of the details are weak, their relationship is interesting. Their interactions range from anger-filled to passion-filled and they do find they have some things in common. Cal has a vulnerability about him due to his father’s abandonment, which was followed by a tense relationship with his stepfather. Ava is both strong-willed and filled with remorse over her sister’s death; something neither of her parents let her forget while they lived.

There were times in this story that I struggled with the motivation of the characters. Cal in particular seemed to run hot and cold for no apparent reason. But when together, the pages often sizzled and their compatibility could not be questioned. Overall, the story meshed well but there were areas where there were more questions than answers. The mother and stepfather’s relationship along with the estrangement of his brother were one of those areas. Cal thought his stepfather was devoted to him and the explanation given for the dramatic turnaround was weak. 

Generally when I read a title that has words like “magnate” in it, I cringe, knowing that the hero is a rich and often snobbish individual. Cal is a little better than expected but still has his moments. Marriage of conveniences with unexpected babies is a plot device that has been well-worn. This one is no exception, although The Magnate’s Baby Promise is a very readable story. 

--Shirley Lyons

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