A Man in a Million
Well, well, well! The first series romance I read in 2007 turns out to be a good one. I hope this is an omen of things to come.
Michael “Spike” Moriarity is not the kind of man to attract genteel ladies. He’s six feet four inches tall, spikey haired, tattooed, always dresses in black, and rides the biggest, baddest Harley out there. Spike is a talented and renowned chef, but most good girls don’t stick around long enough to find out.
As the book begins, Spike is racing to an engagement reception for a friend of his and when he gets there, he runs into Madeline Maguire, a beautiful woman from a socially prominent family he’d met a few months earlier. Rather than being repulsed, she’d asked to see his tattoos. Spike was intrigued by her and is surprised to see Madeline at the reception. Not that he thinks they have any kind of future together – because of his bad past, he’s given up on good girls.
Madeline has her own set of issues. She may have grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she endured a difficult childhood. Madeline’s father let her know she wasn’t good enough, her brother Richard dripped with condescension toward her, and her sister Amelia slept with her past two boyfriends. Madeline is six feet tall and a crew member on racing yachts, and while she is a pretty woman, she does not see herself as feminine enough to be attractive.
Madeline turns to Spike for help with a family matter. Her family owns a chain of supermarkets and part of her trust fund is shares in the company. Madeline’s brother has always voted her shares, but now she’s 25 and can now take her place on the board. Richard has been pressing her to continue to allow him to vote her shares for her, but Madeline wants to stand up and do it herself. However, she would like to have some backup and Spike is intimidating enough to make Richard think twice about intimidating her.
Spike refuses at first, but then shows up at Richard’s house, looking quite bad to the bone. Over the course of the next few days, he and Madeline establish a relationship and Madeline begins to develop some confidence in herself. Richard is not going to give up his influence easily though, and he hires a private detective to dig up the dirt in Spike’s past and then invites Amelia in to get to know him.
Yes, A Man in a Million does use the Big Secret and the Big Misunderstanding, but in this book they make sense. Jessica Bird lays the foundation for the secret and the misunderstanding and they don’t spring up out of thin air nor do they last long enough to be annoying. I understood why Spike kept his secret and why Madeline reacted the way she did when she saw him with her sister.
I liked both Madeline and Spike very much. Fans of J.R. Ward’s (who also writes as Jessica Bird) vampire series will recognise Spike as very much a non-vamp brother. He’s big, he’s bad, he’s urban, and when he realizes he is in love he is all tenderness and very protective. Madeline is a modern poor little rich girl – outwardly she had all the stuff money could buy, but never anyone to love her and care for her. She and Spike make a great couple and it’s a treat to see her blossom and gain confidence.
This book is loosely related to Bird’s The Moorhouse Legacy series, which I have just glommed, but it stands alone. I think I’ll be putting Jessica Bird’s name on my list of auto-buy authors for series romances. For the past several years, I’ve been taking people off that list. It’s nice to be able to add someone.