Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O'Keefe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lyle Baker wants his estranged children home before he dies. And he has the money and power to bribe Tara Jean Sweet to help him in his scheme. So they publish an article in the paper along with a photo of the two of them together announcing their wedding plans.
Luc and Victoria are the children Lyle wants home, which is the last place they want to be. Even though they were from different mothers, Luc and Victoria are very close and spent several summers with their father on the ranch, however those were some of the worst times for each of them. Lyle was a brutal father that dealt out discipline with his hand and fist. At one point Luc’s mother stopped sending him to the ranch when Luc started talking about how to stop his father. Victoria also had the additional problem that her mother was the mistress and she was not treated well whenever Lyle’s wife Gloria was around. The only reason Luc and Victoria think about coming home is that Victoria wants her inheritance and she will do anything, including returning to the ranch, to make sure that a Bimbo Barbie does not get it.
Luc is a famous NHL Hockey player currently on hiatus before his last year of playing, he needs to successfully convince everyone that the head injury he recently received is not causing brain damage and will not bother him during games. Although Luc never wants to see his father again, he will go back for Victoria who is a recent widow after her husband conned several people with a ponzi scam. She has lost everything and has a young child to think about and lacking confidence in herself, believes she can’t do anything except live the way she is used to.
Tara Jean Sweet is helping Lyle with his wish to have his children home one last time before he dies. She does not expect to marry him and plays along with this fake engagement. As a reward, Tara will get a portion of his leather business to have some security in her life, something she never had. She grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and left home in her teens after her mother got mad at her when her mother’s boyfriend took advantage of her. Tara behaved badly in her younger years while trying to survive, things she is not proud of and does not want anyone to know about, she is hiding from a past and a man she hopes will never find her.
The story has unsympathetic characters and you have to dig deep to find positive qualities about them. Luc is angry at everything including a possible life without hockey and Tara is a past gold digger that only recently has lived the straight and narrow. These people are not perfect by any means and need some redemption to be likable; however throughout the course of the story, with the father dying, the reading of the will and Tara’s troubled past coming to find her, they begin to become human and we end up cheering for them to find happiness. Throughout the book we also get a glimpse of the secondary characters, Victoria and ranch foreman Eli, they too need some redemption as they are both very angry and unlovable but they have a whole story to go through to gain our love.
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