Review: BABY ON HIS HOLLYWOOD DOORSTEP by Lauri Robinson

42639945._UY2560_SS2560_Full Disclosure: I absolutely adore babies, paid thousands of dollars to become a professional nanny, and deliberately gave birth to a whole bunch of the little darlings and very much enjoyed staying home when they were littles. So be prepared, ‘cause you better know I’m gonna gush!

Of course, lots of Romance novels have babies in them.  I always appreciate it when they’re done well.  I read tons of books so when I find one done this well I’m all fangirl squeee!

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First of all, oh my goodness, that cover is adorable! My other interests include history and tall, blond dudes (married one, that’s why my children are massive) and so this guy and the girl in the Roaring Twenties outfits really grabbed my attention. The sweetest, prettiest little baby in the whole wide world nailed it.

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Helen is one of those rare people who grew up in a totally messed up family and made the painful decision to leave it all behind. Actually, it was partly made for her, because most of her loved ones were murdered by a rival Chicago gang. She was assumed dead, leaving her with the perfect opportunity to end the family curse and start a new life as a fine, upstanding citizen, albeit an extremely private and untrusting one.  Wow, talk about strong character motivation there!

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Helen is strong and brave but not in the corporate boardroom or sword-backing warrior way.  Thank God, I am so sick of those knock-offs. She is strong and brave in the quiet way many of us are and fail to see.

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Remember, most of her loved ones are dead. Take a reality pill and explain to me just how you’d move on from such a traumatic event!  You dig deep down and find something to live for. That’s courage, baby.

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Helen’s good friend had fallen in love with a dude named Joe. They’d married and he’d gone traveling for business. This was the 1920s, so no Internet and constant communication. While he was gone, she fell ill with Tuberculosis, because this is also before there were any great treatments for that.

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And she was pregnant.

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Helen helped her friend give birth secretly. Her friend was terrified she’d be put in a sanitarium and have her baby taken away. As it turned out, the friend died and didn’t get to nurture and love her baby anyway, except from heaven. Before she passed, she asked Helen to take the baby, named Grace, to her father in California.

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This is all historically believable stuff. No cramming our 21st century values down that rat hole. They were lucky to have survived the 1918 Flu Pandemic and World War I. The Great Depression was just on the horizon. This is why our great-grandparents were tougher than nails, folks.

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Anyway, Helen takes the baby to California as promised, all while keeping her true identity under literal wraps with disguises and such. She hardly feels glamourous and rightly so. She’d come from ill-gotten money and had been scraping by in retail ever since. Now her most realistic ambition is to get a dishwashing job she can bring the baby with her to do, until she finds the dad.

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Helen finds the dad.

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Well…actually, she finds the uncle, but she thinks he’s dad. So distraught about being separated from the baby whom she’s come to adore, who gives her the reason to live and go on and keep trying, she puts the baby in his care and runs.

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Jack has his own problems before the waif with the bundle appears. He’s building a film studio from the ground up and his irresponsible brother banged an entertainment bigshot’s wife and got himself blacklisted. Now he has to handle all this by himself.

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With the gangs moving into Hollywood for a piece of the action.

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He has no reason to believe the waif has any connection to that mess. He thinks she’s just another starlet desperate to get into the movies.

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But Helen’s hardly seen the movies and she produces proof that Joe is the father of her friend’s baby and she is most certainly not the baby’s mother.

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Biologically anyway.

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Jack comes off as kinda boring at first. Hey, I’m a girl who prefers Will Smith to Christian Grey. Nothing is sexier than a sense of humor!

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Turns out, he’s a regular bore because all his energy is going into this studio he’s building and the new movie he’s producing, all while dealing with the growing dark cloud of the Chicago gang. And now his irresponsible brother Joe drops another problem on his lap and is gone.  This is totally believable.

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But baby Grace is not a problem. She’s a human being, an innocent, vulnerable little person and she is family.

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Paternal instincts kick in quite naturally for Jack and, of course, Helen finds this endearing. And suddenly he’s not at all boring. He pulls a drawer out of his dresser for the baby to sleep in and then buys her crib and fetches the doctor and fearlessly performs baby care few guys were brave enough to do back in the day. Or any day, really. Except mine, he’s awesome.

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Anyway…

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There’s no way Helen can get romantically involved though. It would be too dangerous for Grace, and for Jack. To say nothing of herself. She must keep her identity secret, or the remnants of her family and their rivals will find her and finish the job which had left most of her loved ones in a blood bath.

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Meanwhile, Jack thinks he just needs Helen’s help to care for Grace while he finishes the new movie. Then, he’ll track down his brother and set everything right for the baby. Of course, he’s got to protect reputations and Helen and Grace from the gangs and all too.
And then he really feels the increasing need to provide and protect. I found it delightful that these feelings didn’t really scare him. Mark my words, that’s the kind of courage it takes for a guy to stick around and change his share of the poopy diapers.

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Jack’s biggest weakness is trying to take care of everything, especially for his brother. They grew up with traveling, half-starved actor-parents who died when they were still young. Not uncommon for those days. We take so much for granted now. Anyway, Jack and Joe pretty much had to raise themselves and each other. This left Jack with a strong work ethic and need to take care of Joe. This makes him awesome daddy and husband material.

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It also makes him extremely vulnerable.

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Jack is used to the blond bombshells throwing themselves at his feet and all the deceit and cynicism of Hollywood and finds it all rather annoying. Helen is pretty, kind, and authentic, though he clearly senses she’s keeping a secret.

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Nevertheless, everything seems to be going along blissfully well.

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Until…

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The baddies arrange for Jack’s movie to not be shown where he wants it to so he can make the money necessary to continue his studio.

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Over the phone, Joe demonstrates no intention of coming home quickly. Puzzlingly, he seems to have loved Grace’s mother, wants to put a beautiful headstone on her grave, is very concerned for the baby, especially her health. But, won’t tell his brother what’s keeping him from collecting his offspring. He seems to care, he seems to…

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This is all very disconcerting for Jack, though he finds himself thoroughly enjoying having Helen and Grace around. Helen even comes up with great ideas to improve his movie, like using fans to make feathers look like snow really falling. She has a talent there, an easily overlooked one, and she’s just learning how to express it.  Organically, she seems to be falling into a life partner kind of role.

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Hope I didn’t give too much away in my gushings and burstings.  But, seriously, ya gotta check this one out.  You’ll be happy to know the author has an extensive backlist too.

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You can find Baby on His Hollywood Doorstep at   Harlequin and pretty much everywhere books are sold.  But, this publisher offers a great deal for readers who buy regularly from them.

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Lauri’s Main Site

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