She’s falling for the one man who could destroy everything…
Alex McAllister always dreamed of a life filled with the laughter and love of a family, but being abandoned at a young age left her wary of letting anyone in. Now that she’s settled in Still Harbor, Alex struggles between keeping her distance and the magnetic pull of the handsome stranger who claims he’s the biological father of her adopted daughter.
Hayden Brooks never wanted to be a father. Long hours spent building his family’s real estate empire suits him just fine. But when he discovers an ex put the baby he unknowingly fathered up for adoption, his world crumbles. He tracks the child to Still Harbor with the intention of bringing her home—and comes face to face with his daughter’s stunning adoptive mother.
The paternity test is in. And Hayden’s about to make the most shocking decision of his life, just in time for Christmas…
Source: ARC from Entangled: Bliss via NetGalley
This book definitely puts a new spin on the old one-night-stand/secret baby tale. Thanks to an opportunistic, blackmailing ex, Hayden finds out about his daughter in a particularly difficult way, so it’s easy to see why he’s a bit upset and very demanding when he rides into Still Harbor looking for a paternity test. What he finds is a confident little girl that reminds him so much of himself and a beautiful, giving woman who loves her adopted daughter beyond belief.
And that’s where things get tricky. See, normally in these books I’m all about equality and parents getting to spend time with their child, and understanding of why the father might be angry at being denied access for so long. However, because Alex is completely unconnected to the whole one-night-stand thing and Hayden is so Hulk-smash determined he’s going to take his daughter home (right across the country), I found myself really hoping that the paternity test would be negative. Because as cute as Hayden is with Cassy, he completely fails to understand how much of the girl’s happiness and wellbeing comes from Alex and the family she’s built with her sisters.
I liked Alex. She’s nice, if not particularly memorable. She likes to take care of people, she has serious abandonment issues and she, perfectly understandably, doesn’t trust Hayden one bit. Why should she? And why does everyone else absolutely love him? Yes, he’s charming and good with the kids, but he keeps buying Cassy presents and all the adults know that he’ll take her away given half a chance. Then again, we don’t actually see much of Alex’s sisters, since Alex seems to tackle her emotional worries alone.
The story itself does seem to drag out in a slightly unrealistic way. Hayden takes a month off to visit Still Harbor in the run up to Christmas, and it takes ages for the paternity test to even be taken let alone for the results to come in. Mostly this book is about Alex fretting about her life falling to pieces, while Hayden hangs around, admiring the view even as he plans to destroy it all. Their relationship is tentative and slow-growing, but it’s all quite sweet and nice and I did actually enjoy it. It’s easy to read and with mostly likeable characters – even Hayden, when he’s not being demanding.
Then comes the end. If you’re a fan of this type of book then you’ll know the format – story happens until the characters find a seemingly happy place, conflict occurs, hearts are broken, forgiveness is begged, etc. For me the conflict here was ridiculous and almost wrecked the book for me. I know why certain people felt the way they did, but there was an exceedingly good reason and the whole over-the-top nuclear option left me unable to believe that these two would ever find real happiness together – regardless of the magic fix promises.
Which is a shame, because until then I found this an enjoyable read. Overall this is still a nice book, with a slightly doubtful ending. Regardless, I will be keeping my eyes open for the next book, because that story definitely sounds intriguing.
Falling For Her Enemy is out November 9th!
Visit Victoria James for more details.