I’ve got a thing for single dad romances lately. I don’t know why since I have no desire to have kids but put it in a romance book, and I will glom it. The single dad angle and the butler angle in Christie Ridgway’s The Secret is what caught my eye.
First, The Secret is actually part of a series, Billionaire’s Beach. This is book six. That being said, I jumped right in and had no trouble getting caught up on the world of these characters. While the couples from previous books play a role, this book is definitely focused on Charlotte and Ethan.
Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson is the butler for Ethan Archer and his young son, Wells. She not only takes care of Wells but she keeps the household running as Ethan jets off around the world with his work responsibilities. Charlotte’s role suits her and she is happy with it though lately, she has been fantasizing about Ethan. Charlotte knows this is not a good idea because not only is Ethan her employer, but she has a secret that would prohibit any kind of romantic relationship from happening.
Ethan married the love of his life, Michelle. Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer. They couldn’t have kids and they were lucky to adopt Wells before Michelle was diagnosed. They envisioned a happy future but instead, Ethan has been raising Wells alone. Now on the nearer side to forty, Ethan is wondering if work and Wells is all he has to look forward to. His friends suggest he start dating again, start having sex, but Ethan is not one hundred percent sure he is ready for that step. He does know that he is attracted to Charlotte and that presents problems because Charlotte keeps his home life running smoothly. Would getting entangled with her prove to be cause for celebration or more complications in his life?
The Secret proved to be super sexy (like way sexier than I remember Christie Ridgway’s books in the past). Emotionally it was sexy too. Once I figured out Charlotte’s secret, I was kind of hesitant to keep reading. A lot of people are going to guess instantly (like I did) what the secret is and it’s a tough thing because how do you make her choices seem not intrusive or obsessive. But Christie Ridgway does a decent job of setting things up so that by book’s end, I believed and trusted that Charlotte and Ethan were in a good place to move forward together. While the couple does end up marrying at the end, I wasn’t sure that was exactly the right step but I think it will be a good situation for most readers.
I liked all the characters in this book. I enjoyed seeing their relationships evolve together. And Wells proved to be a fun little boy to have in the book. This is a single-dad romance that is well-done on all fronts: setting (a beautiful beach), hero (a rich guy with a caring heart) and emotional arc (somewhat fast but a true connection). The Secret is fast reading and I am curious about reading some of the other books in the series now.
Title: The Secret
Author: Christie Ridgway
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Being butler to a widower and single father is a dream job in more ways than one for Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson. She helps keep businessman Ethan Archer’s household running without a hitch and enjoys every minute she has with his six-year-old son, Wells. But as time passes, the situation feels alarmingly intimate and when her heart starts beating faster each time Ethan steps through the door, Charlie must exert rigid control over her feelings.
With her secret, falling in love would be all kinds of bad…
Ethan Archer values the woman who keeps his life in order and cares so much for his motherless boy. He and Charlie act in harmony with each other and it’s not hard to picture them as a little family…in fact, it’s so easy, one reckless night he proposes a marriage of convenience.
What will he do if Charlie says yes? And worse, what if she tells him no?
Christie Ridgway is a California native and author of fifty contemporary romances. A six-time RITA finalist and USA Today bestselling author, she writes award-winning, emotional reads starring determined heroines and the men who can’t help but love them. Christie grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, went to college in Santa Barbara, and now is married to the sweetheart she met there.
She started off as a technical writer and moved on to computer programming before having two sons and pursuing the dream she’d held since childhood—writing romance novels. Her first book stars a hero who was a former professional surfer and since then she’s written about businessmen, TV stars, soldiers, journalists, vintners, race car drivers, and horror novelists. What her heroes have in common is their resistance to love and their hardest of falls when they finally do find their right woman.