The Billionaire Next Door
The Billionaire Next Door is the first in a trilogy about three brothers. While 2007 hasn’t been a good year for me when it comes to series romance, this book is a winner. I started reading it and didn’t put it down till I finished it and right now I want to read it again. This is the best kind of series romance – an interesting story, a wounded alpha hero, and a strong and nurturing heroine. Bliss!
Sean O’Banyon is a superstar in the financial world, known as the best deal maker on Wall Street. Everything he touches turns to gold, and to top it off, he is handsome as can be, well dressed, and extremely charismatic. Women want him, men want to be like him – he is beyond successful, he is the legendary SOB. Sean is about to close the biggest deal he’s ever brokered, when a phone call changes his life.
Lizzie Bond works as a nurse in South Boston. For the past several years, she’s rented a duplex from Eddie O’Banyon. She and the sometimes crusty Eddie developed a friendship over the years and sometimes she wondered why he never spoke of his family. Lizzie was the one who took care of him, made sure he took his medicines, and it was she who took him to the hospital when he had a heart attack. Eddie refused to allow her to contact his family, but when he died, she found a phone number with a Manhattan area code and called his son Sean. Lizzie discovers Eddie had three sons, but Sean is the only one who shows up – and he is very tight lipped about himself and his brothers. Lizzie wonders what could have caused such an estrangement between father and sons, but when she meets Sean, he isn’t exactly ready to talk. Lizzie and Sean are attracted to each other, but his past left him bitterly scarred and he has great difficulty trusting anyone.
Sean is very much the focus of this book. Unlike many of his Wall Street compatriots, he is from a lower class background – Irish South Boston – and he had to fight for his place in the world. When his mother was alive, Sean and his brothers Billy and Mac were happy enough, but when she died, his father began to drink. Drink made him moody and vicious and he beat the boys. His moods were so volatile that the boys never could predict when he’d explode, so they lived their lives walking on eggshells. Mac was the oldest and took the brunt of the abuse, but Sean got his share as well. Billy, the youngest, wasn’t beaten as badly, but he was cowed and frightened most of his life. All three of them left as soon as they could and they haven’t spoken to anyone about their childhoods, but they are all marked by it.
Sean has trust issues both from his childhood and because, despite his success, he still feels like an outsider in the world of finance. He is cynical enough to know that most of the men who glad hand him and praise him to his face only do so because he has power. Behind his back, they smirk at him and sneer at his lower class origins. When it comes to his relations with the opposite sex, early on Sean fell for a woman who used him to move on to someone more successful, and since then he has never trusted another. He’ll take a date to dinner, but they go Dutch, and when he sleeps with a woman, he never stays over…or allows her to.
Sean begins to have tender feelings for Lizzie that both surprise and scare him. For one thing, she has no idea of his reputation. Lizzie doesn’t follow the financial pages and must work doubly hard since she is the support of her slightly mentally retarded mother. She believes Sean is just an average white collar worker. She likes him, she is happy to be with him, she is smart, somewhat charming, and she asks nothing from him. When Sean finds himself paying for their meal, the wall he’s built around himself gets its first crack. Later, when he and Lizzie become lovers, Sean can’t keep cool and distant. Lizzie is not like the usual society women he beds and for the first time ever, he dreams of a future with her, but of course something happens. When Sean finds some papers in his father’s desk, it leads to a big misunderstanding on his part, but it’s not a silly or slight one and it is very realistic considering his background.
The Billionaire Next Door touched me. My heart bled for Sean and his brothers and the flashbacks showed just how much they had endured and how their past still affects them. Sean has the love and support of a strong and caring woman and as the book ends, he is happy for the first time since he was a child. I loved this book – right now it’s the best series romance I’ve read this year. I look forward to Billy and Mac’s stories in the future.