Friday, October 26, 2007

The Billionaire Next Door by Jessica Bird

I can barely remember the last time I sat down and read a Harlequin, or really any short series books really. But I've been curious about this one, and as it happened to be available on paperbackswap, I swapped in a credit and it arrived on my doorstep last night.

The reason for my interest was because the author Jessica Bird also writes under the name JR Ward, and unless you've been hiding under a rock, you're probably aware that Ward is the author of the very successful Black Dagger Brotherhood books. I've read all of the BDB and enjoyed them (although to varying extents), so I was curious to see what her writing would be like outside of that particular world. I'm happy to report that it's quite good.

Sean O'Banyon has risen far above his humble working class Boston roots to become a powerful Wall Street financier. He's successful, gorgeous, filthy rich and trusting of no one, least of all women. Back in Boston, nurse Lizzie Bond mourns the death of her landlord and crusty old neighbor, Eddie O'Banyon. When she notifies Mr. O'Banyon's next-of-kin about his death, she has no idea that the man she's talking to on the phone is a famous corporate baron. When he comes down to Boston to pack up his father's belongings, they find themselves drawn to each other. Sean is wary of women lusting after his money, but Lizzie only knows him as the son of her neighbor. This anonymity allows him to be himself around her and they spend time getting to know each other and gradually falling in love.

Of course the road to the HEA can't be totally smooth. Sean is hiding some major emotional issues from Lizzie, primarily the truth about his father. Although Lizzie knew him as a kind old neighbor - a sort of surrogate father figure - to Sean and his brothers, Eddie O'Banyon was the nightmare who destroyed their childhoods with alcohol-fueled physical abuse. The after-effects of this upbringing haunt them all still. Sean makes mistakes on more than one occasion because of his tendency to view all potential emotional entanglements through a lens of suspicion and mistrust. But Lizzie is a refreshingly open person who doesn't put up with crap and doesn't play the martyr.

I really liked this book. It was an easy quick read and it pushed none of my major hot-buttons. Misunderstandings were cleared up without taking pages and pages of angst. I particularly liked that Lizzie made it a condition of their relationship that Sean begin to see a therapist. I've read too many books in which the hero's serious emotional issues are swept aside as if a declaration of love is going to make it all go away and that the heroine can somehow "fix" him. This felt way more realistic.

As for the Bird/Ward thing, I will say that I noticed a few similarities in the writing styles. A little name-brand dropping (although way WAY less than in BDB), a few times where Sean uses that pattern of speech "..and um, yeah..." which makes him sound like one of the Brothers having a heart to heart, and the mention of Sean's childhood friend one Butch O'Neal. But no extraneous h's, so s'all good, you feel me?



Gail K. said...

Sula, I really liked BILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR too, and another one of hers, COMFORT AND JOY, I think. Much better than the BDB book I picked up and tried :P I have a couple more Jessica Bird Silhouettes in my TBR pile. Years ago I read HEART OF GOLD, a contemporary romance by her, and found that to be too simplistic and annoying. I think Bird's character types (super-alpha male, female in dire need of rescuing) harken back to old-style romances but the successful books have a more modern twist.

sula said...

hey gail! long time no see. :) Now you've got me curious...which BDB book did you try? Cuz if it wasn't Lover Eternal, you know I'm going to pester you to go back and try that one. lol.

I think that the heroine in Billionaire was surprisingly not as much in need of a good rescue as I might have expected from Ward/Bird. Sure, she was poor, but she was no shrinking violet and she was managing on her own. If anything Sean needed her more than she needed him, I think.

Comfort and Joy, you say? I shall have to do a little research and see where I can find it. I must say that I kind of liked the bite-sized Harlequin short book thing. A little like one of those 100-calorie packs they're selling now. Just the right size for a snack but not enough to replace your regular meals. *g*

sybil said...

I have liked just about all of her SSE but this is by far the best. I think she has four maybe five out. And this one has two more.

I may have an extra copy of something... I will look. Wanna do a guest review *g*.

Leaping Hearts and Heart of Gold can be hard to find and I have no clue if they are any good. LOL but yeah I have them. And no I didn't pay that much. LOL I was lucky to get in before ward HIT! So I found them at USB.

Dev said...

I'm very bad ~ I haven't read JR Ward at all, no matter what name she's writing as.

Gail K. said...

It was the very first one, DARK LOVER! I know, I know, I need to try LOVER ETERNAL one of these days...