Monday, July 1, 2019

Review: Wanted: Billionaire's Wife

I picked up Wanted: Billionaire's Wife by Susannah Erwin mainly because, once upon a time, she was a local author for me.  I've seen her kicking around at various conferences and when I heard she sold her debut to the Desire line?  I was all in.  I love reading debut authors, especially in category.  It was only after finishing this book that I realized she also won the 2017 Golden Heart for best unpublished manuscript in Contemporary Romance: Short...for this very book.  Which goes a long way in explaining why I enjoyed it so much.  Folks, this is a good one.

Danica Novak is an assistant at a small boutique executive recruitment firm in Silicon Valley. She's just returned from a trip home to visit her brother, who had a freak accident while playing football.  Doctors are recommending an experimental treatment for him, one that insurance isn't going to cover and her parents cannot afford.  So needless to say Danica is distracted when she literally runs into Luke Dallas, the latest tech CEO wunderkind, devastatingly gorgeous and looking for her boss.  They're both in a for a shock however, because the boss?  Yeah, has literally emptied out the office and left a Dear Danica "got an amazing offer sorry to light out while you've been dealing with family stuff for the past 2 weeks" letter.

This is not great news for Luke either.  His company needs an influx of cash to expand and he thought he found the perfect partner in the Stavros Group.  But just as he's about the sign the papers they pull the rug out from under him and things go sideways.  How sideways?  He's at the recruiting firm to convince his old college friend (Danica's dearly departed boss) to take on a new job...find him a wife.  A wife will, for reasons eventually explained, solve the issue with the business deal gone south.  Well, in for a penny, in for a pound - he convinces Danica to take the wife finding job by throwing a fair amount of money her way and, what he doesn't know?  She needs that money for medical bills so says yes.  Never mind she wants to lick Luke like an ice cream cone on a hot summer's day.

I read across most category romance lines but I'll be blunt: I don't necessarily read Harlequin Presents or Harlequin Desire (at least today's Desire...) for realism.  Some of the plots can get patently absurd and this one strains the seams.  I mean, anytime you get the ol' "have to marry for XYZ reason" trope you know that as the reader you just need to roll with it.  It boils down to how well the author sells the absurdity, and Erwin sells it well.

It helps that I felt like she knew northern California.  That she had at least some passing familiarity with the tech industry and with the field of executive recruitment.  I can't say with certainty that it's 100% authentic (not everything is in fiction - which is why they call it "fiction") - but she gets the feel of it right and I appreciated that.

I also liked that while Luke is a bit of a cold fish, thanks to his parents because OF COURSE!, he's not a complete jackhole and honestly?  His parents really are a piece of work.  By contrast Danica had the best example of a happy-ever-after in her parents - eastern European refugees who fled with nothing but their love for each other and scraped together a new life in the United States.  Danica is hopeful to Luke's cynical and it's a nice contrast.

Of course the thing standing in the way of Danica's mission to find Luke a wife is their attraction to each other.  Besides their different temperaments, Luke is a man raised in privilege (dysfunctional, but privileged) while Danica is a woman who has learned the hard way that trusting anyone outside the family unit can get you burned.  This past is reinforced when circumstances end up altering their original agreement.

This is a strong debut and a well-done category romance.  I enjoyed it a lot and inhaled it in a couple of sittings.  I'm definitely going to pick up Erwin's next book which, hopefully, Harlequin will have the brains to publish.

Final Grade = B


Nikki said...

I have a soft place in my heart for category novels and this one sounds just like what I need.

Katy Cooper said...

I think it's a lovely book. I enjoyed it *so* much. (Full disclosure: the author is a friend of mine, but most of my friends are authors and I rarely take about their books.)

When The Princess Bride came out, I said, "That's a movie that knows exactly how big it is." It didn't try to be more than it was, so it ended up being lovely. I feel the same way about this book (and any well-done category romance).

Wendy said...

Nikki: It's a very strong debut for the Desire line. I hope you enjoy it!

Katy: That's exactly it! There's a rhythm to category romance and this one hits the beats at the right moments and throws two interesting characters into the mix. I wasn't surprised in the least to discover after the fact it won a Golden Heart.