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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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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

5 Comments

  1. Sarah
    Feb 28, 2011 @ 16:23:23

    I’m so going to purchase this book tonight, despite the obscenely scary cover. Your cover comment made me chuckle. Lovely review!

  2. Jayne
    Feb 28, 2011 @ 16:33:52

    Well, at least the art department got all the people right according to the book descriptions. It takes place right after the pizza delivery!

  3. Laura
    Feb 28, 2011 @ 18:28:43

    Random question, but how old are the hero and heroine? I’m assuming the heroine is probably at least in her thirties, if she’s an acting principal?

  4. Jayne
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 04:58:08

    @Laura: Yes, early to mid 30s for both of them.

  5. SonomaLass
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 02:29:31

    Thanks for this review, Jayne! I saw this book on the category display, and the cover put me off. Now I can’t wait to read it, although I’ll probably buy digital so I can ignore the cover more easily.

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