Bride of Fortune

The Doctor Wore Spurs

Expecting His Child

His Majesty, M.D.

The Secretary &
the Millionaire

Some Girls Do

When She’s Bad

Underfoot by Leanne Banks
(HQN, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-77052-9
Underfoot is the second entry into a series about the Bellagio shoe company. Not having read the first one did not undermine the pleasure from this tale about a PR exec and an advertising man.

Walker Gordon was stood up at the altar by the one of the Bellagio daughters and he is nursing his hurt and humiliation at a local bar. Enter Trina Roberts, the company’s public relations guru, who feels the need for some libation after handling the press for so many hours. Their drinking leads to conversation and a drunken one night stand of hot sex.

Forge ahead 15 months and we have a weary Trina rushing into work, late for a meeting on the new advertising campaign for the spring fashions. As she enters the meeting, she realizes that the presenter is none other than Walker, who has returned from Paris to handle the account and try to maintain his company’s relationship with Bellagio despite the failed marriage attempt. There is just one tiny issue between Walker and Trina and her name is Maddie. She is 6 months old and Walker has no idea she exists.

The story is about Trina telling Walker and Walker dealing with the reality. He has sworn not to become a father, since he is certain good father genes do not run in his family. He even had a vasectomy, which apparently failed. Trina never told Walker about the baby partly because she knew his feelings and partly due to humiliation that her one night of stepping out of bounds resulted in so public a display of misjudgment. Her parents fought like cats and dogs and yet stayed together for the kids. She swears that will not be the experience of her child.

This is oh so familiar territory, but Banks pulls it off, primarily because of the facets she gives her characters. Trina wants romance and is willing to give Walker a chance, in a way. She is convinced he won’t be able to handle it, but allows him to take baby steps into fatherhood. She is smart, business savvy and easily handles motherhood and her career, despite feeling a little sorry for herself at times. She has a great sense of humor and doesn’t hold anything against Walker, even while wary of his advances. She knows she will respond and isn’t sure that is best for Maddie or her.

Walker is an A-type everywhere but in his ability to deal with fatherhood. When his brother BJ shows up with his very pregnant fiancée Danielle, and proclaims that despite their genes curse he is willing to try to be a father to his baby, then Walker starts rethinking his ideas. He has already agreed to be financially responsible, but as he gets to know Trina better and spends some time around Maddie, new options pop into his head. He has his uncle, who is recuperating from heart surgery and Trina’s mother, who is a busybody, to contend with too. Now he just has to convince Trina he is serious.

This story is lighthearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously, adding to the romantic feel of the relationship. The sexual tension is strong, but handled by two adults, not kids. The scenarios are often funny and at times touching. Banks handles both equally well, without melodrama or silliness.

Underfoot is a romantic, comedic story with plenty of romance and just the right touch of comedy, even with a plot line that has been used a time or two before. It’s worth trying on for size.

--Shirley Lyons

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