USA Today Bestselling Author
One couple, a pending divorce,
and a baby who needs a family…
No matter how hard Kate Malone strives to be perfect, everyone she’s ever loved leaves. She foolishly believed “I do” meant “forever.” Now, her wedding ring is in a jewelry box, and she’s alone once again. But when Kate and her soon-to-be ex-husband become the sole guardians of an infant, divorce is not an option with a new baby counting on them.
Jared Reed loves Kate more than anything—even if he did push her too far. Now he’s determined to keep his promises to his best friends and especially to his wife. A marriage of convenience sounds rather inconvenient, but Jared will do whatever it takes to get Kate back and provide their new little girl with parents who not only love her, but love each other, too.
Parenting brings them closer, but their undeniable attraction makes Kate want to keep her distance. Jared, however, won’t give up on having the family and marriage he wants. Can Jared prove to his wife that he’s the husband she’s always wanted before it’s too late?
This is a revised, expanded version of a book previously published as Marriage for Baby.
When Kate and Jared meet at the lawyer’s office they are under the assumption that their friends Susan, Brady and their daughter Cassidy had all perish in a car accident. That however was a horrible misunderstanding. Their daughter Cassidy is alive albeit in the hospital recovering from her injuries. Their lawyer explains the situation and the guardianship set up by them. It is their wish that Kate and Jared raise their daughter. There are however stipulations to that guardianship. Kate and Jared must be married otherwise Jared gets full custody.
With their divorce about to be finalized, Kate is devastated that Susan could choose Jared over her should they divorce. Although when she reads the letter Susan left her she understands. Jared’s big family would become Cassidy’s she would always be loved and cared for no matter what. Kate is alone in the world just like Susan was until she married. Now she has to come up with a plan that will work for both herself and Jared so she can have that joint custody.
What she comes up with is a marriage of convenience, they will share the responsibility of Cassidy and things will be like they were before the divorce was filed. With one major exception, there will be no sex.
Once the papers are signed, the guardianship granted and Cassidy discharged from the hospital, they head to Susan and Brady’s home.
They need to go through everything and prepare the home to be sold.
This is a favorite scene as they set off on their journey.
It wasn’t right to take credit for doing what needed to be done. He might use the baby to get his wife back, but Cassidy’s needs were the top priority. “It’s the least I could do. The same as you.”
“We have a steep learning curve ahead of us. Checkups, illnesses, diaper rash. I don’t even want to imagine feeding her solids. What if she’s as picky as Brady?”
We. Not I.
The plan would work. The knots in Jared’s stomach loosened.
“Then we buy a side of beef and learn how to disguise vegetables as candy.” He tapped his thumb against the steering wheel. Soon Cassidy would have a mommy and daddy who lived together and loved each other, too.
“What?” Kate asked.
He shot her a sideward glance. “You sound like a mom.”
The hope in the one word surprised Jared. Kate always appeared so in control, so self-assured with everything, but her hopeful tone made her seem vulnerable and more… real. He liked that. “Yes, you sound like a mom.”
A satisfied expression settled on her face. “That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
“I had no idea saying that works better than saying you look hot.” He laughed. “I must remember that.”
“Will that be your game plan when you need a night out with the boys?”
He smiled. “More like how to get out of the doghouse.”
She smiled back. “Flowers and chocolate are good for that, too.”
Yes. A point in his favor. Jared would pump his fist, but he was keeping both hands on the wheel. A glance at the rearview mirror showed flashing lights rapidly approaching. A siren grew louder. Jared slowed the car and changed lanes. An ambulance roared past, its siren blaring.
The baby cried.
“She must not like sirens,” he said.
“She might remember the sound and how she hurt after the accident.”
He hadn’t a clue what babies remembered. “That would make sense.”
“It could explain how she doesn’t like being woken up suddenly or with much noise.” Kate reached back. “It’s okay, Cassidy, we’re right here.”
The baby wailed.
Kate sighed. “I should have sat next to her.”
“Maybe she’ll settle down.”
“I can climb back there.”
The image of Brady’s mangled car flashed through Jared’s mind. He didn’t want Kate to unbuckle her seat belt. “We only have a few miles to go.”
The crying worsened. No matter what they said, nothing consoled Cassidy. Jared couldn’t concentrate on the road. “Did you read anything in the baby books that would help calm her down?”
“No. She might be tired, hungry, wet. I have no idea.” Kate twisted in her seat. “We’ll be home soon, Cassidy. Do you miss your room? All your toys?”
The baby’s cries squeezed Jared’s heart. “I’m getting off the freeway at the next exit.”
“We have to do something now.”
“The radio,” he offered.
“Noise might upset her more.” Frustration laced each of Kate’s words.
He understood. The wailing reverberated around him. “What do you suggest I do?”
When she didn’t answer, Jared turned on the radio. A classical song played. Mozart, if he wasn’t mistaken.
The baby screeched. So much for those songs for babies he’d downloaded.
Jared hit one of the radio’s preset buttons. A country music singer sang of lost loves and dented fenders. More crying. He pressed another button. A rock-and-roll tune filled the car with an electric guitar solo. Cassidy shrieked.
Tension ratcheted. Kate grimaced. “This isn’t working.”
The baby hiccupped between her sobs.
Jared wouldn’t give up. He hit the AM dial and searched the stations, stopping when he heard stock quotes.
“Why are you putting on this station?” Kate reached for the radio. “It’ll make her—”
Cassidy stopped crying as if someone had flicked an off switch.
“No way.” Kate’s arm hovered in front of the ON/ OFF button before she placed her hand on her seat. “How did you know financial news would work?”
“Brady listened to this.”
As a reporter spoke about an upcoming meeting to discuss interest rates, the baby squealed a happy noise this time.
“We’ll have to add the money station in Portland to our presets,” Kate said.
“It’s one of mine.”
“Then it might be one of mine. I rarely listen to the radio. I prefer to put on an audiobook.”
He wasn’t surprised. “Multitasker.”
“I try to maximize my productivity. That will be more important now with Cassidy.”
“You can do whatever you set your mind to.” He wanted to reassure Kate. Who was he kidding? He wanted to take her in his arms and kiss some sense into her gorgeous head. “We’ll both do whatever it takes.”
“You sound so sure.”
“Aren’t you worried about the future?” she asked.
“All we can do is our best.”
Melissa McClone. The Husband ARC (Kindle Locations 1108-1168). Cardinal Press, LLC.
Now being a parent isn’t easy, and because of their life style Kate is essentially a single mom during the week. Jared lives and works in Seattle when he’s not on the road, while Kate’s business is in Portland. Fortunately the rest of Jared’s family is also in Portland so she doesn’t have to worry about child care while she’s working. Unfortunately the perfect baby is long gone and after a week of no sleep Kate is ready for Jared to step in. Well sort of.
Something’s got to give or everything is going to fall apart. A weekend isn’t long enough to make up for a week of no help at night. They do make some discoveries though.
Kate’s first mother’s day is poignant and at Jared’s parents an eye opener. However it’s as Kate gives telecommuting a chance by moving up to Seattle that things really come to a head.
I found myself very angry at Jared’s family and Jared for that matter. The circumstances that broke up their marriage to begin with were archaic and chauvinistic. There are many things that come into play as this story unfolds, there is laughter, tears, love and compassion. However the biggest thing is when Jared’s eyes open to the truth of everything.
I can’t wait to see what Melissa comes up with next for this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!
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USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over forty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group.
With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters.
Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities.
Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!