13 July 2013

Just One Night (9 Months Later; Harlequin Superromance #760)


Synopsis: Zachary Sloan was no ordinary architect. His innovative designs had earned him the reputation of a rebel. The media always had a field day wondering whether Sloan's projects pushed boundaries too far.

Annie Montgomery had married Zach straight out of college. At first his drive to succeed had thrilled her. But although he'd been an exciting and passionate lover, he'd been a less-than-perfect husband, and he'd wanted no part of fatherhood.

Then – six years after the divorce – came a disaster that threatened to destroy Zach's world. Suddenly, only Annie could help him through the night. Now Zach wants Annie back...for a very compelling reason.

She's going to have his baby.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Books, 1997; 297 pages; purchased at a library book sale in 2011.

My thoughts: The characters have very different, distinct personalities. Zach grew up poor, with a distant father and a brood of younger siblings that he helped raise. Once a wealthy uncle took him away from the family home and introduced him to a more glamorous lifestyle, he was driven to be a success in his chosen field, live a comfortable life, and never have children. Fine dining, sumptuous home, designer clothing/shoes, etc. Annie, on the other hand, was a social worker, driven to help others, wearing vintage/thrift store clothing, etc. and very much wanting a baby. After a pregnancy scare and a fight, she walks in on Zach in his office with a co-worker, and that was the end of the marriage.

Now the collapse of a staircase in a museum that Zach designed has brought them back together. Annie arrives at the scene with the Red Cross, to help out, and because Zach is so devastated over the destruction and the injuries caused, she decides he shouldn't be alone and takes him home with her. After they spend the night together, she tells him it's a one off, and that they are not getting back together.

Then she discovers she's pregnant.

A lot of the book was taken up with the collapse and the subsequent investigation into what caused it and who might be at fault. Zach is crucified by the media, but staunchly continues to insist that his design was everything it needed to be and the collapse was not caused by any mistake on his part. I'm guessing the author did a lot of research into structural engineering, because she went into detail and some of it bored me and some of it was over my head.

Zach still loves Annie, Annie still loves Zach, Zach wants Annie to marry him and the three of them be a family when the baby arrives, Annie doesn't trust Zach not to hurt her again. They argue, they hurt each other's feelings, they apologize, they make up, then they do it all over again. At times I very much sided with Zach as Annie and her sanctimonious self-righteous do-what's-right-and-quit-being-so-shallow attitude began to grate on me. I can understand her hurt that Zach cheated on her, but whenever that subject came up she declared “I don't want to talk about her”, and as a couple they never really addressed it. But I guess it was far enough in the past to stay in the past.

Zach has drifted away from his family and has a strained relationship with his father and the older of his siblings. The little girls adore him, but the oldest sister, who is still friends with Annie, is very vocal in her feelings of abandonment by Zach, and his father's silence and habit of walking out of the room when Zach comes in seem to indicate he feels the same way. I was much more interested in this plot point, as Zach begins to realize the meaning of family and wants to mend fences.

All in all, this was fairly standard Harlequin fare. It was a quick read, it was enjoyable, but not so much that I feel the need to go out and hunt down more from the author.

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