The Billionaire Next Door by Jessica Bird
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: August 1, 2007
Pages: 256 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
This is a well-formatted, well designed Kindle book. It was a pleasure to read on that basis.
I hadn't read a short contemporary romance in a while when this book caught my eye while looking for something to read within the online, digital portion of my local public library. Once I checked out the book, it was a simple, two-click procedure to download a Kindle edition of this book through Amazon, and I had a full three weeks to read it. Hooray for the electronic publishing revolution!
Lizzie Bond is a 20-something nurse whose only relative is her mother, a sweet woman who is a brilliant artist but mentally incapable of supporting herself. Lizzie has also befriended her elderly landlord, who lives upstairs in the duplex she rents. When he suddenly dies, there is no one but her to try and track down his nearest relations. In the process, she calls his son, Wall Street billionaire Sean O'Banyon.
This book was written in 2007, before the huge market crash and subsequent social disgust at Wall Street bigshots like Sean, so this is kind of a period piece, if you will. But even if our recent Great Recession had never happened, it's not that easy to make a sympathetic character of a guy like Sean, who has spent years dedicating his life to cut-throat financial maneuvers in order to get increasingly wealthy. However, as these types of stories go, what makes it compelling is that Sean is a wounded soul who has a painful family secret he and his two brothers have never shared with anyone. As he spends time with Lizzie, while packing up his father's belongings in preparation for selling the house he grew up in, the walls Sean has erected around his heart and soul crumble in the face of his physical and emotional attraction to this very compassionate woman.
This book was meant to be the first in a trilogy telling the stories of Sean and his two brothers, and it is a huge loss to the fans of this talented author that Harlequin made the enormously dumb decision to not go forward with the author's contract to do these stories. Thus, all we have is this one, extremely well-written, contempory romance about the O'Banyon brothers.
Fortunately, this novel stands on its own without a cliffhanger ending of any kind, so it is well worth reading. Lizzy is an extremely sympathetic heroine, and the theme of the story, a harsh man redeemed by love, is a perennial favorite for romance fans everywhere.