Home For Christmas by Carrie Weaver
The Particulars: Harlequin SuperRomance #1311, 2005, Out of print, Available digitally, Connected to previous book, The Secret Wife (which I naturally have somewhere in the TBR ::sigh::)
Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: Probably for the same reason a lot of random category romances are - I liked the sound of the back cover blurb. I do know I picked this one up at a used bookstore that has since closed up shop.
The Review: Nancy McGuire moved to upstate New York looking for a fresh start. Not only was her husband murdered, but she also found out he was a bigamist. To add insult to injury? Nancy desperately wanted a child, she never conceived with her husband, but he did manage to knock up The Other Wife. So she decides to adopt a little girl from Russia, willingly becoming a single parent much to her mother's disapproval. It's hard, but she adores Ana and they've built a good life together. What she does not need is a man in her life, especially a slick-talking, snake-charming ladies' man like Beau Stanton.
Beau is also fairly new to town, and is now flying solo with his troubled 14-year-old daughter, Rachel. Having been married three (yes, three!) times, Ex-Wife #1 shows up one day, dumps Rachel in his lap and essentially says, "I raised her the first 14 years, you can deal with the next four." Naturally this kind of upheaval has led to Rachel acting out and Beau's not exactly good at dealing with conflict. Nancy and Beau end up meeting at a single parents support group and much to their chagrin, end up being paired off as "buddies."
It has been many, many months since I've read a SuperRomance and while this one wasn't perfect, it was a solid read. There's a lot of baggage here for our couple to deal with. Beau is one of those guys that seems like all surface, but he really does have hidden depths. The reason he hides that from the world has to do with various family dynamics (having parents who doted on his "perfect" baby brother....) and Nancy has to learn that a lot of Beau's slick talk is almost like a defense mechanism. In turn, Nancy has major Daddy Issues, which are at the root of why her first marriage was such a disaster. Daddy abandoned her, her first husband married another woman while still married to her, and now she finds herself attracted to a guy with three failed marriages under his belt? Yeah, she's unthrilled.
The stuff with Rachel is fleshed out fairly well. She comes off as a believable, confused teenage girl. Poor kid. Her Mom essentially dumps her off with no explanation and her Dad, up until this new arrangement, was basically a Good Time Charlie who breezed in and out of her life. Ana is a typical Romance Novel Land toddler, which is to say kind of a plot moppet. But she's not overly annoying.
The Christmas theme is a very light touch, so if you're normally not wild about Christmas reads, this is a book that doesn't beat you over the head with the holiday. I also liked that not everything is wrapped up neat and tidy in the end. Yes, our couple gets together, but just like in real life some elements of their pasts don't magically morph into Sunshine Happiness just because they've fallen in love - most notably, Nancy's relationship with her absent father is still complicated. The writing is a little uneven in spots, and sometimes I wondered exactly how/when/why Nancy and Beau got hooked on each other - but it's a quick pleasant read pairing up a couple that should be all wrong for each other, but happily are just right.
Final Grade = B-