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Elysa M Hendricks

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Publisher:  Elysa Hendricks


Copyright:  July 31, 2011

Race Reed doesn’t want a wife, but to save his ranch he needs a baby. To gain custody of her stepsister, Claire Jensen needs a husband, but she wants love. Wants and needs are bound to clash when they run The Baby Race.

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Race Reed reserves his love and attention for the abused horses he cares for on his ranch. Because his mother changed husbands as often as she changed clothes, doesn’t believe in wedded bliss. Now to save his ranch he needs the money his paternal grandmother is offering as a marriage incentive. The bizarre contest she’s set up between him and his two cousins to produce her first great-grandchild is another matter. His only option – cheat in The Baby Race.
Claire Jensen wants two things out of life, home and family. During her younger years she never questioned her father’s nomadic lifestyle as he hunted for treasure, but as she grew older she longed to put down roots. When her father remarried and gave Claire a stepmother and baby stepsister, she’d thought her prayers were answered. Instead, she took over the parental role to her stepsister as her father and stepmother continued to search the world for treasure. In every way that matters, the six-year-old is Claire’s daughter. When Claire’s father and stepmother are killed on their latest quest for treasure, without a steady job, husband or home, Claire is about to lose custody of her young stepsister. Her only option – run the The Baby Race.


"I can't marry a stranger." Claire shifted restlessly on the stiff brocade sofa then shook her head at the gray-haired, steely-eyed woman sitting across from her in the formal parlor of the Reed mansion. Race Reed, the name sounded like a 60's cartoon character.
"Nonsense." Mrs. Reed gave an aristocratic sniff. "Race isn't a stranger. He's my grandson." She eyed Claire critically. "Though you're far from his social equal, you're young, healthy and presentable. Race needs a woman who values home and family. The two of you shall deal quite nicely together."
In spite of her nervousness, the woman's autocratic tone amused Claire. In the small town of Council Falls, Illinois the Reeds were the local reigning family and Amelia Louise Reed took her position as matriarch to the clan quite seriously. There wasn't much in town she didn't know about or have her hand in. Home and family were important to Claire. Fortunately, though the Reeds were active in all the social and charitable activities in town, the rest of the family were more egalitarian.
"Why haven't I ever met this grandson?"
Mrs. Reed's gaze slid away, but her tone when she spoke was firm. "Jackson," she referred to her oldest son, "was married briefly to another woman, a Native American, before he wed Cynthia. The marriage was a mistake from the beginning. The woman was completely inappropriate. She left him within weeks. She died when Race was sixteen. He then came to live with Jackson.
"Race and I do not see eye-to-eye on his responsibilities to the family, therefore he doesn't attend many family functions."
Claire had heard rumors of the Reed black sheep and his wandering ways, but with the death of her parents on their latest hunt for treasure, she'd been too busy to pay attention. "Another rolling stone is just what I don't need or want in my life. Thanks, but I'll find another way to keep Bobbie Sue."
"Race is no longer a rolling stone. He's made a place for himself here. Now he needs someone like you to…" Amelia broke off what she was about to say and leaned forward. "How? You are a 22-year-old unmarried woman. Your part time job at Max's Cafe can't possibly pay enough to support you and a child. In addition, Roberta Suzanne is not related to you by blood. Without a steady job or stable home it's doubtful you'll be allowed to adopt her."
A familiar sense of despair broke over Claire. She couldn't lose her six-year-old stepsister. Life would never be the same. Bobbie Sue was Claire's only family.
"I only have another year before I receive my degree in food management, then I'll be able to secure a better position or even start my own catering business."
Amelia sniffed. "The Department of Children and Family Services won't wait while you get your life in order. With your father and stepmother dead, custody of the child will be given to her birth father."

Professional Reviews

A delightful and compelling romance
The Baby Race is a delightful, sweet romance that features wonderful characters. Race is very much the hero with a painful past, but it doesn't turn him into a jerk. He's understandably reserved, wary, and cautious, but he's also still kind and thoughtful. It's not easy to gain his loyalty, but it's definitely worth winning, as Claire quickly learns. Circumstances bring the two of them together, sexual attraction makes them want to get together, but it's their basic integrity and the warmth and kindness of their characters that makes readers root for them from the start. Once I started the story, I didn't want to stop. I could hardly wait to find out how Race and Claire would overcome their problems to get together and how the baby race situation would work out. It seemed like such a no-win situation. I was charmed when the author managed a solution that featured a few twists I never saw coming.

One hot cowboy, one sweet gal!
This is a compelling story about the power of love and family set against the backdrop of a horse rescue ranch. Race and Claire never intended to fall head-over-heels for each other when they marry for convenience, but when it happens, sparks fly! The depth of emotion and the sweet story make this a must read for all romance lovers!

A Nice Read to Curl Up With
I wasn't sure what to expect when I purchased this book. A marriage of convenience in a contemporary novel? At first I was put off to see a contemporary woman fall for a marriage contract, but the author redeemed herself. The characters grabbed me from the first chapter. The author did a good job of creating conflict and adding interesting subplots. The more I read the more I found I couldn't put the book down. The ending was a pleasant surprise. Very well done. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to read a good romance with lots of conflict.

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