He's in charge of the bank loan she and her best friend direly need to start their business. He'll only approve it if she finishes the 42 days she reneged from their 3-month contract a year ago. She agreed for her friend's sake and her own unquenchable need to be with him regardless of why.
She's not sure how he'll react when he notices the changes in her body due to the traumatic year she had apart from him.
But his hunger for her couldn't be swayed.
Nor his need for revenge against her for leaving him for money.
She understands his anger and cannot tell him the truth. Her decision to relish her 42 days with him brings her back to the high life she had with him.
And eventually produces the intimacy he's been resisting.
But, when her wealthy but nefarious family threatens the son he doesn't know he has with her, she's forced to make a difficult decision once again.
What choice does she make? What happens to the trust she built with Hero?
I was wowed at the progress this book made from book 1, The Billionaire Banker (click here for my review). This book was much more emotionally impacting, suspenseful, and well put together than the previous book in the series. I still think this book series are like HPs(Harlequin Presents) but with more oomph. If HPs are the adult Disney version of classic fairy tales, then this book is more like Tim Burton's version. May look romantic and sweet but it's also cryptic, steamy, sometimes irreverent, and has dark undertones. We get the touching romance with irreverent topics of poverty (i.e., urine-smelling elevators in the low-income housing heroine and her baby lived), politics (i.e., the powerful rich controlling social media information), fidelity(i.e., the sniffing business), and family (i.e., child abuse as a generational inheritance and way of instilling self-control). The mixture of the two was written so seamlessly. It shocked and titillated me as it endeared me to the romance and the overall story. It made for an unpredictable and captivating read. I read this book speedily. Even at the end, I wasn't quite sure if this was the end of the series or not. It wasn't a cliffhanger. But not everything was resolved and answered perfectly. I'm curious what happens next to Hero and heroine.
We also got to know heroine more from her 1st-person POV(point of view) in this book. She's still a caring and self-sacrificing person. But she's grown up some. She's much more accepting of her sexuality and embraced it when she got another chance to be with Hero again. She may be new to Hero's rougher and sometimes shocking sexual repertoire but she reframed them as memories to keep of him in their limited time together. She no longer holds herself as a victim of circumstance like in book 1. Heroine chose to take the 42 days with Hero because she just wanted to be with him again. The business loan was just a bonus. Her choosing to be with him was her assertion to do something for herself for once. I liked her change of power position in heroine in this book. Although Hero tried to degrade her with sex & his cold manner towards her, he didn't succeed because she didn't accept them as degrading and that in itself chipped at Hero's self-imposed barriers against caring for her again.
What was the biggest improvement in this book from book 1 was that we finally got to know Hero. He seemed remote & hard to connect with in book 1. In this one, we find out his motives and connected with his character. Although he's still portrayed as a very controlled and guarded man, we sensed his inner conflicts and felt his emotional intensity. He's the quietly controlled alpha male who is a seething cauldron of restrained emotions that I love to read about. When something about heroine pushed his buttons enough, he became a wild and sexy possessive beast obsessed with heroine. And I loved it! I loved seeing him unhinged because of her. It showed his hidden vulnerabilities and not all of it is positive. We found out that he's quite emotionally damaged from his past.
---------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details-----------
His father was a big believer and follower of a very old secret tradition among certain powerful families. He instilled this tradition resolutely among his family, especially his sons, just as it was instilled in him from his forefathers. One of the rituals his father followed to teach self-control and absolute power was to rape his potential heirs to his business when they're still kids. What was truly sad was that Hero rationalized his father's rape of him as education, as if his father cared enough about him to teach him self-control this way. This all came out when Hero felt pushed by heroine to prove to him that she was different than other women he's been with. The oral-anal (through vibrator) sex from heroine seemed to him brought back his suppressed childhood experiences and it became clear to heroine that his father molested him.
His promiscuous sexual history made sense as well as his emotional disconnection with his lovers. Until heroine, that is. He went through many women during the year he and heroine were apart. He was trying to exorcise her emotional hold over him. But he realized that he was looking for her through these random women. And they didn't sate his need for her at all. Thus, driving him to search for her and, once he found her, demanding she follow through the 42 days she owed him. He was mixing his emotional need for her with something he was used to from childhood: sex. She had power over his heart just as his father had over him as as child. But, with her, it was healing while with her father it was destroying the good in him.
I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book. The conspiracy theory linked to the secret cult was a nice touch. It produced a believable reason for Hero's family's conspiracy against heroine. It made her later decision about whether to stay with Hero or not the full 42 days poignant. I didn't expect the ending and how it resolved his family's conspiracy against her. And that's a good thing. I like being surprised. More like shocked, really.
My only minor quibble was we don't know what happened to Hero's fiance. She supposedly consented to Hero's getting heroine out of his system. But we never hear anything more from her after heroine accidentally saw her at a store and scampered away. His fiance played a big part in separating Hero and heroine in book 1. Did Hero officially end their engagement? What machinations did his fiance have for keeping him if he did? She was a wily one and I'd have liked to have heard more about how she reacted to Hero choosing heroine over her.
I highly recommend this book.