The Billionaire Next Door (The O'Banyon Brothers) by Jessica Bird
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was my first book by Jessica Bird, who is better known as J.R. Ward, the author of the bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. J.R. Ward's writing style is very characteristic and I was curious to see if her writing as Jessica Bird would be as "unique", so I decided to give this book a try.
So, what's my "verdict" after reading it? Well, there was definitely some similarities in the writing style of these "two" authors, especially when it comes to showing the hero's POV. That wasn't a bad thing, since I happen to like the way this author tells a story. And the best thing about this book when compared to the BDB books was the fact that there was no switching POV with the villains. Argh, how I hate those scenes with the BDB's lessers! Anyway, I'm getting a bit sidetracked here. Let's get back to the main program...
Sean O'Banyon is a Wall Street genius who doesn't do relationships, either with women or friends. He's barely survived an alcoholic and abusive father while growing up, and he has the emotional scars and constant nightmares to prove it. When he's informed of his father's death, he flies back to his hometown Boston to do his "duty": claim his father's body, arrange his cremation, pack his affairs, sell his old house, and forget the whole thing as quickly as possible.
Lizzie Bond was Sean's father's tennant and friend. With an absent father, a mentally challenged mother and on the verge of losing her job, her life is anything but easy. But she's one of those strong and no-nonsense heroines who never falter, and she's just what Sean needs to start overcoming his tortured past. Their relationship is a bit tentative at first, mainly due to his emotional hang-ups, but it isn't long before they realize there's more than a simple attraction between them. Unfortunately, trust isn't something that comes easily to Sean, so they have to face a major bump before they get a more than deserving HEA.
I loved this book! I don't remember the last time a "category" book got me so emotionally involved with the story and the characters. I could see Sean and Lizzie falling in love with each other, and I could feel their connection. Every time Sean had one of his nightmares, I wanted to jump inside the pages of the book and comfort him. Yeah, I'm crazy like that! *sighs*
As for the the plot, it wasn't unique but Ms. Bird has managed to craft an excellent story out of it, with a well-rounded hero (who I just wanted to hug and never let go) and a likable heroine (who sometimes seemed too good to be true but, hey, it fit the story). I wasn't even bothered with the fact that Sean only said his ILY on the epilogue, because that was just the right time to do it. He was so emotionally damaged that he really had a long way to go before he could open himself to say those three little words. And the waiting was more than worth it... :)
All in all, this was a more than satisfying read, and I'm going to try and find more of Ms. Bird's backlist.
Fun fact: Butch O'Neal, from the BDB series, was briefly mentioned in this book as being one of Sean's childhood buddies. While it was funny to see that loose connection, I couldn't help but wonder if Ms. Bird (or Ms. Ward, I don't know how to call her anymore) wasn't getting a bit too far with her "obsesssion" with the BDB.
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