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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: The Nanny Plan

Disclaimer: I presented a workshop with Sarah M. Anderson at RWA 2014

When I first got over myself and started reading category romance, the Desire line was my favorite. But then the Desire line started to shift more towards the Presents end of the spectrum and my interest turned towards SuperRomance and Special Edition. I met Sarah M. Anderson at RWA in 2011. I was Librarian of the Year. She was a newbie author whose first book hadn't quite come out yet. She handed me a card and, hello - cowboys?  She writes about cowboys?  I was there.  I've since gone on to read many of her books, liking them to varying degrees.  The Nanny Plan, despite having a baby on the cover (::shudder::) is balls-out amazing. I loved this book.

Trish Hunter is a long way from the reservation, but she can never forget. Working on her master's degree in social work, she has also started a charity to help kids back home in South Dakota. She has big plans, but for right now her focus is on school supplies. Trish remembers when a teacher once gave her two brand new pencils and it was like being given the greatest gift of all. She wants ever kid on the rez to have new backpacks filled with everything they need for the school year and she just won a $10,000 grant thanks to an award her professor nominated her for.  But Trish has plans and for that she needs more money.  Which means taking her oversized novelty check to a local university symposium where Nate Longmire is speaking. She's going to corner him into matching the grant she just won.  Once his presentation is over, she just has to find the right moment during the Q&A session.
Well. Yay for him acknowledging the state of the Native American reservations in a five-second picture, even if the montage did irritate her. All the people of color had been relegated to the poor section of the talk.
Nate is a tech bazillionaire who made his money on an Instagram-like concept. He now has more money than he knows what to do with, so he started his own foundation. He's new money, having grown up in a comfortable middle-class world, but he's a touch socially awkward. Growing up he was overshadowed by a handsome, jock older brother, and now he's got women falling all over him just to get near his money.  Trish intrigues him and when they meet to discuss her proposition after the symposium, he's sunk.  The attraction is instant and he's comfortable with her business-like approach.  Here's a women who wants him for his money yes, but for her charity. Flirting, banter? Nate freezes up.  But a business traction, dollars and cents?  He's all in.  They agree she should stop by his office in a couple of weeks and that's when all hell breaks loose.

Nate gets word from home - his older brother and sister-in-law have died in a car accident. His six-month-old niece is now an orphan and because of "stuff" his parents cannot raise the child.  Hence, Nate, who was also named guardian in the will.  Except, of course, Nate knows nothing about babies. Like, zero. With all this going on it's only natural he forgot about his appointment with Trish, but when she turns up again, and is frankly a natural with the baby, he convinces her to become a temporary nanny.  Trish has nine siblings and a mother who wasn't much of a mother.  Frankly she's full up on raising babies and tells Nate as much, just not in so many words. But then he says the magic word (money!) and she cannot say no.  For a girl not very far removed from extreme poverty, Nate's offer is impossible to refuse.
She tried to reason that at least Nate had a reference - her mother had hooked up on far less - but it didn't change the fact that, for the first time in her life, Trish had followed in her mother's footsteps. When a good-looking man had said jump, she'd asked how high and tossed everything to the side to take care of another baby.
Similar plots have existed in category romance since the dawn of time, but what makes this one work so well is how Nate and Trish interact with each other.  The attraction is instant, but for reasons (compelling ones I might add), they resist.  Trish having no desire to repeat her mother's history, among other things.
And the reality of the situation was that Nate was not her type. She didn't have a type, but whatever it might be, a Boy Billionaire clearly wasn't it. She would probably never have a total of five million dollars in her entire life - and he was the kind of guy who spent that on a comic book.
While Nate wasn't born into money, there's no denying that his experiences are vastly different than Trish's. That's not to say Nate didn't have hardships, or obstacles - just different ones.  The reason why Nate's parents cannot raise baby Jane are compelling, as is his complicated relationship with his now deceased older brother.  He's ready to fall totally in love with Trish, but her moving on from her baggage is easier said than done.
The intensity of this need scared her. For once in her life, she understood her mother, how she could overlook the health and safety of her children in favor of a man who might make her feel like Nate had made Trish feel. Because if she stayed here with Nate and raised Jane - became a permanent nanny during the day and his lover at night - well, then what would happen to One Child, One World?  How was Trish supposed to look her baby sister in the eyes and say, "Yes, I know I said you should put your education and career ahead of any man, but he's a really great guy!" Because that's what her mother would say. That's what her mother would do. Trish was not her mother. And that was final. 
All this from a book with a baby on the cover.  I know, right?  And even when the author falls down a well-trod romance trope path (Nate's got an ex who did him wrong then of course shows up again having obviously had "work done") Anderson reins it in by actually making the woman somewhat sympathetic.  OK, she's not totally sympathetic, but she's also not cartoonishly vile.

This is a Desire, so every word in the word count is precious.  The author could have spent more time on Nate's family relationships, but I don't think the romance at hand suffers from what the author probably could not address because of word count.  Still, this is a really good one folks.  Yes, with a baby on the cover.  The chemistry between Trish and Nate. The dialogue. The baggage.  It's really good.  The kind of book where I was highlighting every other paragraph good.  Drop everything and read it now.  And yes, I know - baby on the cover.  You won't catch cooties, I promise.

Grade = A


Unknown said...

A couple in a romance novel resists acting on their attraction for good reasons? Unheard of!

More seriously, although categories are hard for me to find outside of a (to me) risky purchase, this one sounds good. You and Miss Bates read the best category romances, I swear.


Phyl said...

I haven't read any of Anderson's. But I'm happy to try this one. Because you told me to :) Although seriously, it does sound like something I'd like.

Hilcia said...

I saw the word "Nanny" on the title, and the baby on the cover and immediately looked at your grade. I was shocked to see that A! But it sounds so good it's going on my wish list. :)

Kristie (J) said...

An 'A' is a very rare thing. I'm thinking this means I Ned to get this one.

Wendy said...

Lawless: And a heroine who actually *thinks* about the consequences BEFORE jumping into bed with the hero. Shocking!

Phyl: She's written some good ones. A Man of His Word and A Man of Privilege were both really good. I also really loved the second book in her Beaumont series, Tempted by the Cowboy. I've read a few others that hit my "OK" spot and I've got a handful of others waiting in the TBR (because, of course I do).

Hils: I know, right? The only reason I picked up this book is because I'd read the author before and liked her. Don't let "Nanny" and baby scare you off!

Kristie: Well AztecLady will tell you I've been pretty fast and loose with A grades this year - at least by my ususal standards. I've been slumping as far as actual reading time, but I've read very few duds (yippee!) and quite a few standouts so far this year. I think this might be Romance Novel #5 that got an A from me this year? Maybe I've been kidnapped by a pod person?

nath said...

Wow, an A. I need to get this one :P

azteclady said...

Actually, what aztec will tell Kristie is that, despite the horrible slump, lil miss Wendy has been having a GREAT reading year, which is most excellent.


Bona Caballero said...

I've just read this book, yes a little bit late, I know. And you are right, it's great. The plot is something we have all seen many times to count. But the characters sound so real, and their instant connection so romantic... It helps that Nate is not one of those alpha millionaires that buy a new wardrobe. No, he is respectful, polite and, well, a little bit nerdy and I just loved it!

Wendy said...

Bona: Yippee! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!