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Monday, December 6, 2021

Review: The Billionaire's Christmas Baby

I'm a sucker for a Christmas romance and this December I've decided to take a deep (deeeeep) dive into my Kindle and read the oldest books I could find languishing there with "Christmas" in the title.  So far this plan has been a success, given that the first book I unearthed was the 2017 gem, The Billionaire's Christmas Baby by Marion Lennox.  If the mountain of Christmas romances in my TBR are half this good - well, I'll be a fortunate reader indeed.

Max Grayland is a nice guy hiding under a loner exterior. He's also very rich. The kind of hotel guest that causes staff to say "how high" when he says jump. He's a savvy businessman determined to right the ship at his father's company and undo all the shady environmental deals Dear Old Dad wrought over the years. He's smart and capable. What he can't do? Deal with a tiny infant unceremoniously dumped in his lap by his father's much younger, social climbing mistress.  Daddy Dearest promised her a big pay day if she could get pregnant with another heir so he could disinherit Max - of course a male heir (I mean, do you even have to ask?).  Well Phoebe came out a girl and Daddy Dearest up and died before changing his will.  Max inherits it all, the scheming mistress gets diddly squat, which means she has no use or time for a baby.  Here she is Max, Phoebe is your problem now.

In this Sydney hotel room witnessing Max's dilemma is hotel maid, Sunny Raye (yes, that's her real name), who is naturally horrified by the entire spectacle. Max, who seems cold, indifferent and completely out of his depth. The child's vile mother. And there's Phoebe, a tiny defenseless child who asked for none of this bullshit. It's Christmas Eve, Sunny has worked a double-shift (she needs the money) and she just realized she forgot to buy her Gran's favorite cherry cordials. She doesn't have time for this. But Max takes one look at how she handles his screaming half-sister and before you can say cherry cordials, she's spending the night in the suite to help with Phoebe. 

Max is out of his depth. He's only in Sydney for his father's memorial service and when Phoebe storms into his life he's struggling to write a eulogy for a man he had an extremely complicated relationship with (I mean, if you can call it "a relationship").  Anyway, one thing leads to another, because of course. Max begs Sunny to stay and help him while he's in Sydney.  She agrees, on one condition. She's not missing Christmas with her grandparents and four siblings. Max is coming home for the holidays, Phoebe in tow. And what Max learns, very quickly, is that Sunny is aptly named. Sunny is the glue. She kept her younger siblings together while her mother battled drug addiction. When Mom died, they were saved from being split up in foster care by the appearance of their grandparents (who they never knew existed). Still, Sunny was a young teenager.  Yeah, Gran and Pa were there - but she raised her siblings up to that point, so she didn't stop.  They got an education, Sunny didn't finish school.  She works hard and dreams big.  And here comes this billionaire into her life like some sort of Prince Charming.  Prince Charming who thinks he can throw money at any problem. Prince Charming who doesn't understand or really know what love and family mean.

And that's the crux of our story. Sunny with her love of family and Max who grew up with the silver spoon but nothing else outside of material possessions.  On the surface this book easily could have fallen down the Cinderella rabbit hole, and certainly it would have been a fine read. What makes this story work though is Sunny. She sacrifices for her family but doesn't truly see it that way. Certainly there were times when I wanted her to run away, be selfish, live her best life, but that would break her heart. She loves her family, they love her, and never once as the reader do you feel like Sunny is being taken advantage of.  There's a dignity about her character that is very appealing and welcoming. Sunny is all about dignity, even as she's scrubbing a carpet stain in Max's hotel room suite as the story opens.

What I liked about Max is that while he's clueless is many ways, he's not a bad guy. He's, in fact, a pretty nice guy.  He just doesn't "get it."  He's completely ill-prepared for the arrival of an infant and for his attraction to Sunny that's more than just sexual chemistry. But even as he recognizes his feelings, even has he professes those feelings to Sunny, this poor sap still doesn't get it. The last couple of chapters of their going their separate ways, then coming back together are really well done.

This did lose a little steam for me in the second half, but it's pretty much everything I want in a holiday romance. It's warm, it's cozy, I really, really liked Max and Sunny - as individuals and as a couple - and the baby serves as a nice dose of relatable conflict (not everybody would be comfortable dealing with an infant that just suddenly fell into their lap!). This story is tailor-made for a Hallmark movie adaptation, right down to the trip to New York City that happens midway through.  If you're looking for something cozy and heartwarming to read by the fire this holiday season? Look no further.

Final Grade = B+


Phyl said...

This sounds great. One-clicking! Have a very happy holiday, Wendy!

Miss Bates said...

It IS excellent! And it sounded so familiar: yes, oh, yes, apparently I read and reviewed it ... back in 2017. Huh.

Ros said...

Not currently available for purchase, gah!

willaful said...

Of course, I read one really good Lennox book and then forgot about her. Do'oh! Putting her on my list of books/authors I really want to get to.

azteclady said...

As a rule, I'm the opposite: no Christmas romances for me. However, because I know you, I'm tempted by this one, if there's not a lot emphasis on Christmas as the cure all?

Like, I could deal with the holiday as the background for the story (people have to go places because family, what you gonna do?), but not when it's "the magic of Christmas" magically (heh) fixing problems without fixing them, if that makes sense.

Wendy said...

Phyl: Happy holidays to you as well!

Miss Bates: LOL, I saw your review on GR and it definitely put a spring in my reading step! I was pretty sure since you liked it that I would like it too.

Ros: I'm not sure where you're based out of - but it's available in digital here in the States. Print, I'm afraid, is likely looooong out of print since it's a 2017 release.

Willaful: I read a really good Lennox a couple years ago and then naturally went on a buying glom. She's got a HUGE backlist. Mainly Medicals and Romane - I think?

AL: Oh, there's not "magic of Christmas" stuff in this book. It's a romance that happens to be set during Christmas-time and there is a requisite family gathering. But that's it. No Pollyanna heroine thawing the hero's Scrooge-like heart in this book.

azteclady said...