I had a hard time connecting with the characters at first because they were very much the wealthy crowd in an arrogant, looking down on the rest of us kind of way. At the same time, she used British terms when all I knew was that she came from New York City so words like flat instead of apartment stood out. Then, just as I was wondering whether I would keep reading, something amazing happened. From scoffing padded sofas in favor of ultra-modern, uncomfortable, fashion statements, Stella suddenly became human, touchable, and relatable. A single glimpse behind Bobby’s money-oriented drive had the same effect, turning him from a fancy developer and reality TV star into someone who was pushed to succeed by his own sense of being the failure in his complicated family.
What started out a walk on the wealthy side became a complicated love story between a neglected daughter and a guy who never felt he could measure up. Bobby gets the same glimpse behind the curtain that is Stella and he’s so determined to give her the chance to decide for herself that he almost throws away the first thing in his life that is really his own. Her whole life has been orchestrated by an overbearing, but cold and distant, father who blames her for the loss of his beloved wife. To make matters worse, this same man is the main backer of Bobby’s dream, one he convinced his whole family to sink significant funds into as well. But Stella’s father has another critical trait, one that came to haunt Bobby after a one-night stand with Stella before he knew who she was: her father is a stickler for propriety, ironically a front man for the family values platform.
Since the story begins with Stella appearing on Bobby’s doorstep to announce an accidental pregnancy resulting from that one time which has lingered in Bobby’s mind until he hasn’t dated anyone else, you can guess there are a lot of tense situations. But what forms the heart of the story, and what got me hooked, is how these two get beyond their changed circumstances and their own trust issues as they trip over each other in a desperate attempt not to force either of them into something they don’t want. Bobby wants to give Stella control over her life after finding she’s never had any while Stella doesn’t want to condemn Bobby with a marriage, wife, and kid he doesn’t want and will treat as her father has treated her.
Expecting a Bolton Baby is a strong tale of family expectations, fear, and hope. Not what I expected from the beginning, but I’m delighted with what I got. It’s a Harlequin Desire title, so there are well-written sex scenes, but the dialogue (story wise) around the sexual pressures and choices are more important, at least in my eyes, than the graphic descriptions.
P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.