REVIEW: The Baby Swap That Bound Them by Hana Sheik
A shocking revelation…and proposal?
Struggling single mother Yusra is shocked when handsome billionaire Bashir turns up, claiming their children were swapped at birth! She’s fiercely protective of her son, AJ, and refuses to give him up. But when she meets little Zaire, she can’t deny the connection she feels. For their sons’ sakes Bashir makes a proposition: marry and move in together! They expected to fall in love with their sons, but falling for each other…?
Dear Ms. Sheik,
I just love this cover. The tropes in the book – a marriage of convenience between a divorced mother and a man who stepped in when his cousin died – has the added interest of being between Somali MCs and taking place in Uganda and on billionaire Bashir’s superyacht.
Yusra is still recovering from the difficult delivery of her slightly premature baby when she wanders out and down the hospital hallway and encounters an obviously grief stricken man. Her overworked but caring nurse hustles her back to her newborn son. Now almost three years later, with her controlling husband a distant memory and struggling to support herself and AJ, suddenly a bunch of suits come visiting her tiny office before being swept out the door by an imposing man. Yep, that imposing man from three years ago.
Bashir drops a bomb on Yusra before the hospital admin types try and influence her in an effort to cover up the fact that the hospital made a mistake. Bashir has justifiable Reasons why he doesn’t want a lot of publicity about this. Yusra also has Reasons why she doesn’t want the world poking its nose into her business. Bashir is in the middle of building a center for refugees and asylum seekers – having been one himself before fate and a kind man took a chance on him thus allowing Bashir to work hard and develop his hotel empire. Yusra doesn’t want her failed marriage or efforts to keep a roof over her and AJ’s heads to become common gossip.
But it’s after their sons meet and develop an immediate friendship – as most three year olds will do – that gets Bashir thinking of a way for them to all live together as neither parent can think about giving up the son they know or missing out on the one they’ve just met. Of course it’s a marriage of convenience – strictly for the children, no intimacy expected, with terms discussed and agreed on with the lawyers.
Yes of course we all know that their Reasons for a “no love” marriage will fall by the wayside no matter what is behind those reasons. Frankly I can better understand Yusra’s reasons to avoid love as she dealt with the change of her husband from loving to controlling and finally stood up to him and reclaimed herself. Bashir’s reasoning – fear of losing his second family after he lost his first to a flood – also makes sense but his actions – “I will run from the second family to avoid the pain of losing them which I know will happen” – frustrated me. The “I’ve known pain before and won’t put myself through it again” is a romance trope I don’t care much for but to run away from the only family – who took him in and love him dearly – he has left and to have not contacted them (or not much) in twenty years gobsmacks me. Yes I feel for him as he was hit by crippling anxiety at the thought of another loss but I wish he’d gotten some therapy for this.
The romance takes a while to get going. Both MCs are of course attracted to the other but must deny this. Roughly 45 pages (and three weeks) of silent lusting and no communication about it later, things finally begin to work themselves out as we get a tour of Kampala and watch Yusra begin to flourish. Bashir manfully denies his feelings until he thinks he’s stepped beyond the pale. Then finally they start to talk only for the dreaded last act separation. Kudos for having Yusra stick to her feelings and realize a way she can try and bridge their gap while also helping Bashir past the thing that has caused him so much pain. Also kudos that Bashir sends Yusra a present that lets her know – even though he’s still denying it – how much he cares. Personally I think she does a great deal of the heavy lifting to get them back together but once Bashir admits love back into his life, he’s full on.
Now I’m not a person who just adores plot moppets dropping into storylines and neither AJ nor Zaire are PMs. However this is actually a story in which I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more of them given how important they’re supposed to be to their parents. A bit more page time for them would have been nice.
So there’s not really anything new as far as tropes or plotlines go but I enjoyed having a character driven story of observant Muslims, flourishing in their chosen professions, as main characters and seeing the unusual setting of Kampala. B-