With his sun-streaked blonde hair, ocean blue eyes, and sinewy muscles, maverick Jack Van Buren has spent his twenties living the playboy life that comes along with being handsome and the heir to a billion dollar business empire. But when Jack resolves that he wants more out of life that dating the latest reality TV starlet, he decides what he yearns for most is a child to raise. The only catch is that he’s not ready to settle down with one woman yet.
Bianca Forrester is an independent-minded medical student with fiery red hair to match her personality who dreams of one day tending to the health of the less fortunate. Bianca’s determined that she doesn’t want high student loan debt to dictate where she works and who she treats one day. When she decides to become the surrogate mother for Jack Van Buren’s child to finance her education, Bianca’s confident that she can give him the most important gift of all…the love of a child…and then move on with her life.
But when both Jack and Bianca begin to realize that they would pick each other if they were to enter a long-term relationship, can the two of them ignore the growing sparks they feel and the child on its way to keep things between them “just business?”
Tabitha Foster grew up in the Santa Barbara wine country and not far from the beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline. She currently lives in the Los Angeles area and is hard at work on her next book, Sweet Temptations and the Surprise Billionaire. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Giveaway: One free copy per blog stop.
Excerpt: CHAPTER ONE
He knew she was the one from the moment he laid eyes on her she walked into the fertility clinic. After meeting a parade of women that the surrogacy agency had set up, Jack Van Buren had started to come to the conclusion that he would never find the woman who would carry his baby, his heir. Each woman he had been introduced to had been perfectly lovely, smart, and engaging in conversation. Each one spoke of how healthy she was and how much she wanted to help someone’s dreams of parenthood come true…at a very hefty price of course. Jack couldn’t put a finger on it, but none of them felt right. He was looking for much more than an egg donor and a rented uterus. Jack wanted the woman who actually carried his child and lived at his home from the second trimester until she delivered to be someone he felt some sort of connection with, someone he admired.
Just when he thought he might give up the search, he met Bianca.
“This is Ms. Bianca Forrester,” Shannon O’Dailey, the surrogacy agency owner, said smiling widely. Jack knew that Ms. O’Dailey was growing concerned that he wouldn’t meet the woman who would seal the deal and land her hefty commission.
“Pleased to meet you,” Bianca said.
Her flowing, wavy auburn locks, green eyes, and peaches and cream complexion spoke of the Irish heritage written about in the profile he read on her. And she had a twinkle in her eye that suggested she may be skeptical of him versus ready to dive head first into an agreement. Jack liked that.
“My pleasure,” Jack said, shaking her hand. “I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me this afternoon.”
“Why don’t we all sit and have a chat?” Ms. O’Dailey said, motioning to the black leather sofas in her office and a coffee table that had a tea set on it. “Please, also help yourself to some tea.”
Jack noticed that Bianca’s eyes had grown wide when she walked into the room and saw him. He wondered if she recognized him from one of those unfortunate recent tabloid articles he appeared in when he’d dated an ex-reality TV star. His family, including his brothers Max and Bruce, couldn’t understand why he just didn’t find the right woman and settle down if he really wanted to be a father. Max had finally settled down and married, and Bruce, long considered to be the last brother to probably get hooked up, had just gotten engaged to a woman from the office. In addition, his family was worth over a billion dollars and owned a chain of successful Mexican restaurants named Tio Jose’s, or TJ’s for short. Money mixed with handsome usually equaled a prime catch in most people’s world.
Jack was still a little shy of thirty, and if pressed, he’d admit that many women found him attractive. At over six feet tall with crystal blue eyes, shoulder length sun-bleached hair he sometimes wore in a ponytail, and a trim muscular body he could look like the stereotypical handsome Southern California surfer boy one moment. But put him in one of his tailored Armani suits and he looked like the successful young businessman he actually was.
He had developed the reputation of being quite the party animal and had appeared more than once in the Hollywood gossip rags. Most recently for renting Jackie Onasis’ former yacht and taking a group of his thirty closest friends on a sun and boozed filled trip to Cabo San Lucas. The previous year he had even briefly dated a one hit wonder pop star who’d made a name for herself with one of those embarrassing sex tapes with a famous rap artist.
There was no shortage of women hoping to be hanging onto the arm of Jack Van Buren at the latest Los Angeles hotspot, but Jack held a secret that he shared with no one. Deep down he wondered if he could really trust any woman who wanted to be with him. If it hadn’t been for his looks or more importantly his money, would they still want to be there with him watching the sun rise early in the morning from the deck of his Malibu Canyon house? His parents’ continuing stormy, drama-filled marriage, their third to each other to be precise, also hadn’t fostered a sense of future healthy romantic relationships.
He had been surprised when his bachelor brothers suddenly found their dream women, settled down, and embraced fatherhood even at their ages. Despite his wild boy ways though, Jack loved his nephews dearly. The time he spent with them and the unconditional love they gave him had him craving to have his own child even if that meant being a single father. And Jack felt much more ready for fatherhood than being a husband. But then he’d always done everything his way on his own timeline. Be damned what others thought.
“So, Mr. Van Buren, may I ask why?” Bianca said, peering at him over her tea cup.
She’d turned the tables on him just that fast. After interviewing prospective surrogates who appeared to be doing double time to impress him, this woman was putting him in the hot seat.
Ms. O’Dailey shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
Jack found Bianca’s boldness refreshing though.
“Why what, Ms. Forrester?” he asked.
“Please call me, Bianca,” she said, pushing a few stray strands of hair behind her ear. “I’m curious to know why you’d like to be a father and especially a single father via a surrogate. Are you gay?”
Jack chuckled and said, “I can assure you I’m not gay, Ms. Forrest…Bianca.”
He noticed that she wore minimal, if any, make-up. And the truth was she didn’t need it. She had a naturally radiant complexion that he found refreshing in a city where many women were carefully put together before leaving the house.
“I hope you don’t mind my being so forward,” Bianca continued. “It’s just if I were to carry a child for someone I’d want to make sure they were having that child for the right reasons.” Her voice trailed off a bit before she added, “So many people have children when they’re not ready for them.”
I have to admit two things. I picked this book to read based on the title and the fact that I had read Max and Allie’s story in book #1. And LOVED it. The Van Buren’s intrigue me so when I had the opportunity to read Jack’s story…I swooned. I loved him Max’s story and knew there was so much more to him and I was right.
This review will be short because the book was short. So here goes:
1. Jack – he is soooo different in this book than in Max’s book. He has finally decided to stop partying and settled down. Too bad his ex showed up in the pool. I admit I expected it but he and Bianca handled it quite well.
2. Bianca – I liked her from the start. She had goals and she let Jack know the real reason why she was willing to be a surrogate from the beginning. No bullshit with her and she was strong, too. Oh and her ex showing up. I wanted to slap him.
3. The whole “why she’s a virgin”. I found that completely refreshing in a contemporary romance. My only problem with that is, I felt that book wasn’t finished. I wanted some resolution to that between Jack and Bianca. Maybe an epilogue or something.
4. Their romance is completely believable. Yes, I know they meet in somewhat weird circumstances but it works. Jack isn’t Alpha and trying to run her life. He encourages her and is there for her. Bianca challenges him and genuinely respects him and his decisions.
5. Oh my…the family dinner. It was great seeing Max, Allie and CJ. I really need to re-read their story. I will admit that I haven’t read Bruce’s story and I will fix that pronto. Oh and knowing that Allie is still cooking and still not sharing her secrets…love that.
Overall, I loved this short story. Yes, did I want an epilogue. The ending was sweet and touching, too. But I got over it pretty quick. 🙂 Do yourself a favor and pick up not only Jack’s book but the two books. You will fall in love with the Van Buren’s just like I did.