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Leigh Duncan

REVIEW: The Daddy Catch by Leigh Duncan

REVIEW: The Daddy Catch by Leigh Duncan

Jess Cofer isn’t fixing for a fight. All the single mom wants is to run her fly fishing shop and preserve unspoiled Phelps Cove, Florida, for future generations. Too bad Dan Hamilton doesn’t see it that way. It looks as if the tall, dark and sexy surgeon is in favor of handing over the endangered habitat to greedy developers!

Dan would love to get on his gorgeous new fishing instructor’s good side—if she has one. But he can’t throw away this opportunity to fulfill his dream to build a safe haven for foster teens. Dan knows that when it comes to the truly important things like love and family, he and Jess are on the same side. Will she forgive him when she learns what he’s been hiding?

Dear Ms. Duncan,

The Daddy Catch by Leigh Duncan Thanks for the heads up on your latest novel “The Daddy Catch.” Yes, the title is a groaner but at least the book does actually have something to do with fishing. Fly fishing to be precise and who knew there was all that to know about the sport? See reading romance has come in handy again as a way to broaden my horizons.

I like novels where the main protagonists actually grow and change. Here both Jess and Dan have things to learn and it’s not just fishing, though Jess does turn Dan into a good fly fisherman. Jess lost her husband to an accident she feels was caused by rich types who dared her husband into doing something he knew he shouldn’t have. So when Dan shows up at her store, Jess already has a chip on her shoulder about his profession and his money.

At first she’s cool to him but her experience in the sport plus a sense of fair play won’t allow her to let him flounder and buy the wrong rod or use the wrong flies. And as she learns of his interest in helping foster children, she sees that he’s not just out to be a hot shot society doctor. Meanwhile, though Jess’s eyes Dan sees this last undeveloped bit of coastline as something beyond a way to make money. He finds in the place and in the sport a peace and beauty that can soothe as well as teach

The conflict is not a flimsy manufactured type. Jess and Dan are at opposite ends of the spectrum as far as Phelps Cove is concerned. Someone’s going to lose that battle but I like the way you work things out. Jess has connections she’s never even thought about exploring and her change in attitude towards some of her rich customers, which Dan has helped bring about, allows her to suggest a change in plans that gets Dan everything he wanted out of developing the cove but without spoiling this place she loves.

Dan starts out with an idea of the perfect doctor’s wife he wants to have and Jess definitely doesn’t fit the profile. But just as Jess learns that not all doctors are arrogant and selfish, Dan discovers that he doesn’t want a wife who meets some checklist acceptable to the local medical community. I like the fact that you include some details about Dan’s demanding schedule and actually have it impact their lives a time or two. Being a thoracic surgeon isn’t a cush “9-5 and no weekends” specialty.

Everything’s going along great in their relationship but then comes a final Big Mis that threatens it all. I couldn’t help but feel that Jess flew off the handle a bit. Yes, she doesn’t tolerate what she thinks of as being lied to but she never gives Dan a chance to explain his side of the story before ordering him out of her life. She redeems herself a bit in my opinion by being the one to go to Dan and apologize for her actions but the whole thing felt a bit more like a manufactured “end of the book and we need a little more conflict” romance trope to me.

Jess’s son Adam has never known a father so in many ways he’s like the foster children Dan knew and still tries to help. The scenes of the two of them are touching without being sugary sweet as Dan knows what’s missing in Adam’s life and steps up to provide it for him. I especially love the final part of the book where Dan has his proposal all thought out but ditches it for the chance to help Adam catch his first red. That to me, and to Jess, proved that Dan had truly come of age as far as his feelings for Adam, fishing, the Cove and Jess were concerned.

“The Daddy Catch” is a far better book than the hokey title might suggest. The main conflict between Jess and Dan is not something settled with a short, frank conversation. Both of them move forward as individuals as well as a couple. Adam is a prominent part of the story and Dan is shown actually being a busy surgeon rather than it merely being a wallpaper profession. That last speed bump in the road to the romantic HEA didn’t feel quite right to me but otherwise I enjoyed reading this one. B

~Jayne

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REVIEW: The Officer’s Girl by Leigh Duncan

REVIEW: The Officer’s Girl by Leigh Duncan

Dear. Ms. Duncan,

Living in the South, I keep a close eye on the weather during hurricane season. Like right now with Hurricane Earl twitching around out there. Having lived through hurricane damage to my house, I will never take an evacuation order lightly. Which is what caught my eye about the blurb for “The Officer’s Girl.”

Blowing into town in the path of a Category 4 hurricane isn’t the new life Stephanie Bryant had in mind…especially when sexy Cocoa Beach police officer Brett Lincoln tells her she has to evacuate immediately. Or else! And now the ultra-hunky cop is monitoring her every move.

Brett knows Stephanie’s transfer to his Florida hometown is just a rung on her corporate-climbing ladder. But the petite, curly haired beauty has a way of bringing out the protector in him-’not to mention the off-the-charts attraction that’s telling him she could be The One.

Can a small-town hero with broad shoulders and the bluest eyes this side of the Atlantic turn Stephanie’s stopover into something more permanent?

The Officer's Girl I enjoyed the smart dialogue throughout the story. Both Stephanie and Brett come off as intelligent, caring people who are good at their jobs, interested in each other and not into playing games. I also like that they know instantly that they’re attracted to the other but take the time to get to know each other before moving their relationship to higher levels. And despite the fact that there’s no sex in the book, you still managed to make it sexy.

The conflict between them is all to common today. Two career people, one with a career which might be taking her places if all her hard work pays off, trying to make enough time in their busy lives for romance and facing job promotions and transfers. As well, Brett’s career as a police officer brings him into a deadly force situation which is followed by a fundamental issue that causes Stephanie to doubt any future they could have together. Brett has to “get” how his actions, which were totally unintentional on his part, were interpreted by her, rightly I thought, and then make the decision to change things in his life which could have made them call it permanent quits.

And how about the hurricane? I hope Stephanie never finds out what a direct hit is like, especially from a Category 4 storm. The aftermath is so dead on that I feel you must have experienced it yourself. The maddening lack of AC in hot, humid post storm days, furiously grilling everything from your freezer so it won’t go to waste, worrying about running out of gasoline since the pumps don’t work, as well as the wonderful camaraderie of those in the trenches trying to chain saw their way out of their neighborhoods. I think you nailed this stuff.

Smart lead characters who act believably, a conflict which is much more than a mere Big Mis, a well done background story and good secondary characters makes me wish I’d read this in April and then had it as one of my recommendations. Well, better late than never. B+

~Jayne

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