Well it's official. I haven't been reading nearly enough Karen Templeton.
Yours, Mine...Or Ours? is the second book in a trilogy featuring the Vaccaro family. Rudy Vaccaro is a cop with a dream. After his wife abandoned ship when their daughter, Stacey, was six months old, Rudy did the only thing he could think to do - he ran home to Mom and Dad. But now Stacey is twelve, and Rudy is tired. Tired of putting his dreams on hold, tired of listening to everybody's advice on how he should parent his own daughter, and very tired of being a cop. So he empties his savings account and buys a dilapidated bed-and-breakfast in New Hampshire. Rudy knows it won't be easy, but he sees this as his ticket to a better life.
Of course once he arrives in the small town, chaos smacks him in the face. Stacey is convinced her father has ruined her life, and then he meets Violet Kildare. Violet used to work at the inn Rudy bought, and the old lady who used to own it swore to Violet that she'd inherit it after she died. Of course no will was ever found, the inn went to the old lady's daughter, and she couldn't unload the albatross fast enough to Rudy. After her ex-husband abandoned her and their two boys two years ago, Violet thought it couldn't get any worse. Big surprise, it has.
Rudy feels like a major shit-heel. OK, Violet's predicament isn't his fault, but he still feels responsible. Wanting to right a wrong, and realizing he needs the help, he asks Violet to come work for him. He needs someone to help restore the inn, plus a cook once they open for business. Violet loves that old house, and frankly with no other options, she agrees.
What I love about this book is that Templeton gives us characters that behave like real people. Rudy is a painfully nice guy who just wants to do the right thing. He wants to raise his daughter without interference and he wants to start having a life of his own. The minute he lays eyes on Violet he knows he's in trouble. He's basically been a monk for the past eight years, and one look at her wild red hair and sad eyes and he's practically begging. The snag is that Violet can't make up her mind.
Violet's husband Mitch was steady as a rock. He saved her from a horrible childhood, was a good husband, and wonderful-beyond-words father. Then two years ago - poof! Vanishing act! Even in hindsight Violet can't find any signs or signals she missed. When she asks for a divorce he doesn't contest it, but it doesn't keep the clueless moron from writing the occasional letter home. Leaving Violet in virtual limbo, and unable to move forward or back. Then Rudy comes along and all her pesky hormones start doing the mambo. And Lord knows the fact that he's so incredibly nice isn't helping matters either.
Everything about this story is really fantastic. The kids behave like kids, and while Stacey sulks like a typical 12-year-old, her angst doesn't last the entire story, nor is she used as the sole source of conflict (Thank you baby Jesus!). No, most of the conflict arises from the question of the inn and Violet's uncertainty about what she really wants out of her life. There were moments that I thought she should have been more angry at her idiot ex-husband, but the author handles the conflict in a believable, mature manner and the resolution wraps everything up beautifully.
I enjoyed this story just as much as the first book in the series, Dear Santa. I cannot wait until April when Kevin's story, Baby, I'm Yours, makes it's appearance. Really, an excellent series thus far.
Final Grade = A