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Tanya Michaels

REVIEW: His Valentine Surprise by Tanya Michaels

REVIEW: His Valentine Surprise by Tanya Michaels

“When six-year-old Vicki Hathaway emails a request for a new mommy to the entire PTA mailing list, there’s no end of trouble for interim principal Shay Morgan. Then bigger trouble walks into her office in the form of Mark Hathaway. Instant attraction.

Mark hasn’t been called to the principal’s office since he was a kid. And he’s never seen a principal who looked like Shay! For Shay, mixing business and pleasure is a big no-no while she’s being evaluated for a permanent position. And it’s quite possible Mark will relocate to Colorado for his job in a few months.

It wouldn’t be fair for Mark to introduce a temporary mommy figure into Vicki’s life. But how can Mark and Shay deny the feelings growing between them? Could it be a little girl is about to get her valentine wish after all?”

Dear Ms. Michaels,

The blurb for this one has “this could be just too cutesy” written all over it. And for that reason, I might have passed it by were it not for the fact that several of your previous books have been favorites of mine. So when I saw your name on it, I chucked it into my e-cart and resolutely ignored the cover with the people who are almost frighteningly fascinated with fondue. Thank goodness I tried this book as it turned out to be my only February recommendation.

His Valentine Surprise by Tanya MichaelsI love Vickie – she’s realistic, smart without being a smarty pants, honest in her desires for a new mother and to be able to spend time with her father, not cloying, and funny in that way that children can be even while they’re embarrassing their parents. The scene where Mark makes a disaster out of dinner and she offers to bring him the magnet from the takeout pizza place and then also bring the phone so he can make the call had me laughing out loud. Her PsOV are shown from what is important to a 6 year old – having a mother for school functions and having a father who will be with her in school activities. Her joy when Mark comes to the school to be the class mystery reader is palpable while her interaction with her older, and at this point in their lives, annoying cousin is a hoot.

Mark’s main concerns after the death of his wife have been roof, rent, food and clothes. He bristles at Shay’s implication that he needs to spend more time with Vickie but then he listens and does what he can. However his libido isn’t dead and he does look – then feels guilty in case he got caught eyeing Shay the first time he sees her. He then faces a dilemma – does he praise his daughter for her ingenuity and planning or punish her for embarrassing him in front of the whole PTA? Being a parent sucks sometimes.

Shay is dedicated to her career and her students though she hasn’t felt the love from a lot of people. But then some at the school office and PTA are waiting for her to prove herself and see what she’s made of while others are just pissants. I like that she has no intention of giving up her career dreams as her first fiance wanted her to do and enjoyed the scenes of her doing her job and working to better her school. I also like that she finally voices her concerns to her mother and actually listens to her mother’s POV and vice versa.

Mark has loved and lost but not closed his heart to loving again. Thank goodness there isn’t any of this, “I’ll never risk my heart again” crap. He’s been legitimately busy with his store, the household and raising Vickie but hasn’t sworn he’ll never open himself to loss or hurt again. When he finally admits that he loves Shay, I can embrace it along with him – finally his thoughts on the question so many have asked him, “Are you ready for a serious relationship again?” is “God, I hope so.” He and Shay talk about the intimate details of their lives, get to know each other and what is important to them. It’s not just lust but falling in love for a real HEA.

The conflict arises from realistic situations. Shay feels hemmed in by public opinion and the risk of seeming to play favorites while Mark is behind the 8 ball to save his store, his employees’ jobs and not to have to uproot his daughter to move. But they talk about these issues and don’t throw hissies and assume. As I mentioned before I loved to see Shay so passionate about her job and to see the specifics about her plans for school. Ditto for Mark networking and implementing ideas to save the store. They don’t work in a vacuum.

When Mark does propose, it’s a knee jerk thing and Shay doesn’t fall for it. She wants and deserves more and holds out for Mark to really think about things. The ending is a twist on the usual. Mark has to make a hard choice but I think he does the right thing for himself, Vickie, his s-i-l and Shay. There’s no magic “romance book” wand waving and everything is okay but he forges a new way and gets things to work out.

Up til now I haven’t mentioned much about the secondary characters but I liked them too. Mark and Cade have a great “guy” relationship – beer, talking about women and taking the piss out of each other. Shay’s friend Geneva is fun and I hope we’ll see more of her in the future. I do have to ask, is Mark going to end up wearing a butterfly beret as the troop leader of the Campside Girls? “His Valentine Surprise” is a delight and I hope the beginning of another one of your series. B+

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  The Best Man in Texas by Tanya Michaels

REVIEW: The Best Man in Texas by Tanya Michaels

The Best Man in Texas Tanya MichaelsDear Ms. Michaels:

I admit to being a little leery when I picked this book out to read. The story begins with the heroine engaged to a man not the hero. To make matters worse, the hero and the fiance are best friends. On the one hand this meant the fiance wouldn’t be demonized but on the other, there are a whole host of issues from what kind of person falls in and out of love and back in again in the course of a short novel to the kind of fall out between the hero and his best friend.

Brooke Nichols grew up in an unstable household.   Her parents were prone to dramatic displays of emotion.   Her sister flits from one interest to another (in this book she has decided she wants to be a private investigator).   When she met Gifford Baker, he exuded characteristics which she had always longed for: strong connections with his family, stability, dependability, decency. That he was handsome and wealthy made it easy for Brooke to say yes when Giff asked her to marry him after dating for two months.

Only Giff’s best friend dares to challenge this match. Initially Jake, who had been away during the time Giff was dating Brooke, questions Giff in a really awkward scene. Giff brings Jake to a restaurant to meet Brooke and Brooke goes to the restroom. Jake takes the opportunity to ask Giff if he really knows what he is doing. Unfortunately, Brooke is back before Jake’s inquisition starts. Brooke tries to laugh it off “I”m sure we’ll look back on this moment and laugh.” Giff gamely jumps in “Say, on our fiftieth wedding anniversary, when we’ve show Jake how needless his worrying was.”

What worked here was that Jake is not instantly attracted to Brooke, and that Brooke, while recognizing what a hunk Jake is (Mr. July in the calendar), is as unethused about Jake.

But Jake is as close to Giff as a brother and Brooke is Giff’s fiance and so Giff asks both of them to make an effort to get to know each other. Giff is busy with his job and suggests that Jake take Brooke to a concert. Jake does and begins to get to know Brooke. The more that he sees of Brooke, the more convinced he is that Brooke isn’t in love with Giff and that she isn’t the right person for Giff. What sucks is that Jake starts to think that Brooke is the right person for him.

Jake struggles with trying to do what he thinks is best for Giff and then later, what he thinks is best for Brooke which is not marrying Giff.

Brooke is at first angered and then hurt when confronted with Jake’s suggestions that perhaps what she is seeking from Giff is safety rather than love. Jake’s suggestion that this isn’t fair to either Giff or Brooke hits home. Has all she been doing in life is taking the path of least resistance, not actually living, for fear of ending up with a life of turmoil like her parents.

Jake is the straight man to Brooke’s uncertain character. He has little character growth, but instead provides the contrast for Brooke. Brooke has only seen how impulsivity leads to ostracization. More than anything she has wanted to fit it and belong. Jake shows that there can be a balance between taking chances and being out of control.

These characters seemed vivid to me. I could imagine them living next door and telling me their love story over cocktails. It was realistic and ordinary yet emotional. Importantly there was no cheating, not even emotionally I felt, even though the couple does kiss before Brooke breaks it off with Giff.

I didn’t think I would like this story but the characters pulled it out although I clearly see a future romance between solid Giff and the undecided sister of Brooke. B-

Best regards,

Jane

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