Chance Randell is out working and surveying the land he soon plans to make his. After all, the Kirby ranch has been deserted ever since Lil Kirby died. Whenever her heir is found that person couldn’t possibly want it the way he does. Chance has been working on a ranch all his life and he’s ready to make one his own. Maybe then he’ll feel as if he has lived down his father’s bad reputation and his wild younger days.
Then he discovers a woman in the Kirby barn about to give birth. Chance helps Joy Spencer deliver her baby girl and he feels protective toward them both. But Joy isn’t there just because she got a sudden labor pang and needed to stop the car. To his shock, Chance discovers Joy Kirby Spencer is the long-lost heir and she is not planning to sell the ranch and leave.
Joy’s late husband’s parents want her baby and they have wealth and power. Joy wants to get out of their way and make a home for her child where they can’t interfere. Chance, who is interested in but irritated by Joy keeps showing up to “be neighborly.” Joy knows she needs help, but isn’t happy about the situation.
Well, of course they eventually decide to make a deal: if Chance will marry Joy - in name only - so she can present the in-laws with a loving couple who can take care of a child, then Joy will let him have some of her ranch. Of course Chance agrees. The two of them begin the process of getting to know each other. Since both of them are attracted but wary of the other, this takes - well, (not too surprisingly) most of the book.
I kept yelling in the back of my head “Where are these ferocious in laws? What is she so afraid of?” Even when the first question was answered I did keep wondering about the second. I also questioned why anyone would think a marriage made between two people who had known each other a few days would be considered a good defense against a custody battle.
However, those qualms aside, I realized I read through the whole book - questions and all - at one sitting. The plot isn’t new, but the author handles the plot and the characters nicely. Chance’s need for acceptance, which is why he really wants a ranch of his own, comes through clearly. Joy’s ability to make him feel both loved and lovable, a part of a family, is nicely done. The supporting characters - Hank, who took Chance and his brothers in, the housekeeper, even the baby, have more depth to them than most secondary characters in shorter romances.
There aren’t any huge surprises in Chance’s Joy, but the author gives you the chance to settle in, learn to know and trust the characters and then delivers on what she promises.