Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61922-877-1
Contemporary Romance, 2015
The Virgin Cowboy Billionaire’s Secret Baby is a role-reversal take on the common “too busy for sex” trope while serving up some familiar rich bloke-regular girl kitchen sink romance, and, if I put aside the gimmicky role reversal, what’s left is pretty standard fare. It also exposes how these tropes, no matter how popular they may be among certain readers, are often ridiculous when taken into present day context.
Matt Coolidge, the billionaire of our story, has retired at 35. He has to, actually, as all that work he had to do to make those billions had left him with migraine, high blood pressure, insomnia, and the occasional panic attack. Instead of getting to live a quiet and peaceful life at the family ranch, he is getting a headache. You see, his mother is pressing him and his sister to marry and make babies – eeuw, not together, of course not – going as far as to threaten to change the will so that everything would go to a brother who would happily sell off the farm and let some interlopers convert the place into a shopping mall. His mother is not budging – no babies, then everything goes to the younger brother who has made her happy by getting married and popping out brats as per the demands of this bitch demon hag mother from hell.
Just like a romance heroine, Matt may be a billionaire but he is apparently helpless to do anything to get the mother off his back. Oh, and he probably has to do what his mother wants because he doesn’t want his sister to lose the farm – she had worked her rear end off to bring it to its current glory, after all. He’s also a virgin – too busy to date, no time, et cetera. Hey, that excuse is perfectly acceptable when a hot heroine uses it, so why not?
In comes Dara Marley, pregnant with his baby. No, it’s not a case of immaculate conception – a while ago, she had to undergo chemotherapy, so she had a few embryos frozen to allow her to conceive in the future. These embryos were the result of her eggs being inseminated by Matt’s sperm, and now she is carrying a baby that is formed from a successful implantation of one of those embryos. I’m not sure why she’d opt for freezing her embryos instead of her eggs, even if there is a higher success rate with embryos compared to eggs, since things could get messy down the road. And they could, indeed: she eventually married a different man, and then got herself pregnant with this kid that is someone else’s biological babies. Perhaps it is a good thing that her husband cheated on her (for the 5th time!) and filed for divorce before he realized that she was pregnant, as things may get really messy otherwise.
Never mind, now that she is a divorced woman, she approaches Matt so that her child would still have a father. Oh, and if Matt happens to be married or something, it’s okay, she’d be nice and give Matt time to explain to the wife. Yes, she really expects Matt to be an active daddy for her baby. I don’t know whether she’s being horribly optimistic or selfish to be doing this to someone who could have been happily married. Fortunately, Matt is single, thus avoiding many unfortunate consequences that could arise from Dara’s actions. To be fair. she feels guilty now and then when she realizes just how much she’d be changing Matt’s life for him by pushing a baby into his life. Mind you, she’s the sort to insist that she doesn’t want anyone to support her and her baby, since she is an independent woman with no means and no home, so in this case, I can’t help feeling that she should have just sent a postcard instead of disrupting Matt’s life like this. It’s not like he knocked her up and then refused to pay child support – this is an entirely different ball game, with many grey areas.
Oh, and their family hate one another. Therefore, I find it odd that everyone else other than their parents expected them to end up together. Well, they didn’t – they had an argument that saw the two of them never getting in touch again until now. Dara decides to let Matt lose his virginity to her so that he wouldn’t have to be awkward and weird in future encounters, telling him that, unlike other women, she wouldn’t judge him for his inexperience. Oh please, he’s hot and he’s a billionaire. Even if he’s a ten-second man, a woman only has to imagine the size of his credit to spontaneously experience at least three orgasms in a row. I don’t see any problem in that area.
Anyway, will they end up together forever after all, like those people would like to believe?
This story plays out like every relationship story in which the heroine believes that the hero would one day walk out so she would never, ever, ever entertain the possibilities that could have been. In this particular story, this is a rather problematic premise, because as I’ve mentioned, the heroine has already disrupted the hero’s life without really considering what her “Hello! I’m pregnant with your baby!” announcement would do to him, so for her to then go, “Oh, I’ll just let him poke me and then I’d leave to live life as an independent and feisty heroine with no obvious means of supporting myself and my kid!” – the whole thing seems suspiciously like someone trying to justify using and then dumping a guy.
Furthermore, he’s a billionaire. The money is his. Therefore, I don’t understand why he and Dara need to bend over and take it from their family members if they really want to be together. I mean, just give them a middle finger and then move somewhere else, what’s the big deal? I know, family may be important and what not, but the parents in both families are unappealing turds. Why play a martyr to these turds? It makes both the hero and the heroine look like dumb-dumb types.
At any rate, The Virgin Cowboy Billionaire’s Secret Baby may seem at first like a parody or satire, but it is actually far more like the subject it is allegedly trying to lampoon. There is not enough tongue-in-cheek humor to let readers know that the author is in on the joke. Aside from the novelty of a virgin hero losing his virginity to a woman who is carrying his baby, the story is too sober, too contrived, and hence, way too much like a very average Harlequin series romance for its own good.