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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: Second Chance Dad by Pamela Stone

REVIEW: Second Chance Dad by Pamela Stone

Dear Ms. Stone:

This is my first time I’ve read a book of yours.   Second Chance Dad caught my eye because I am a fan of the second chance theme.   More of the story seemed centered around the second chances of Hanna Rosser, a recently divorced mother of Ashton, a sixth grade boy with growing pains.   Hanna has spent that last several years being a mom but when her corporate lawyer husband takes up with a 22 year old law student, Hanna decides to move back to her home town of Marble Falls and open a bookstore with her mother.

 Second Chance Dad by Pamela StoneAshton immediately makes friends with Mackenzie Keegan, a tomboy whose father lets her run free within Marble Falls.   Vince Keegan lost his son and his wife nine years ago and moved to Marble Falls where his deceased wife’s family lived.   There he recovered from his loss and mastered the skill of being a single parent.

Initially, I was irritated with how the hero was presented because I felt the reader was being presented with a valuation of which parenting style was better.   Hanna was more “uptight” and strict.   She didn’t want Ashton riding on the back of Mackenzie’s motorized bicycle.   She made Ashton do his homework prior to going out and playing.   She wants her son to wear a life vest when he goes tubing.   She doesn’t want to get a pet for her kid no matter how much he might enjoy them.   Of course, Vince is just the opposite.   And Ashton was miserable and acting out.

Mackenzie, on the other hand, was precocious.   A smart acting (and smart mouthed kid) who could crew her own boat, control a motorized bicycle, and single handedly defeat bullies.   Plus, she and her dad had a near perfect relationship.

Hanna and Ashton had bigger problems that her parenting style.   Her husband left her for a college student, she has lost her independence and had to move in with her mother, Ashton’s suffering from a loss of security, the break up of his family, and the sudden change in his environment.   Showing Hanna’s struggle to be a parent as a stylistic choice rather than relating to the divorce and moving back home seemed to unduly canonize Vince.

When Vince was suddenly interested in Hanna, I wondered why.   Because she was good looking?   At the point in which he decides to pursue Hanna, the extent of his interactions with her were her making his kid cry and meeting in the principal’s office acting starchy.

About the half way mark, I felt the story turned away from whom was the better parent to a conflict that felt very authentic to me.   Vince was ready to have a partner in his life. He realized that as much as he loved his daughter and his in-laws, he had given up dreams of his own and there was a space in his life that longed for a partner.   Hanna, on the other hand, is still feeling the aftershocks of her divorce. She likes Vince, a lot, but she’s very uncertain.   Further, Hanna felt like Vince’s in laws weren’t ready to give Vince over to Hanna.

There were a number of small jealousies exhibited by Vince’s daughter, Vince’s mother in law, and these provided a slightly different but very realistic barrier to Hanna and Vince’s blossoming romance.

And, in an unusual romance move, both Vince and Hanna weren’t totally in love with the small town.   Hanna missed her life in Dallas.   Vince had longed to travel all over the world as a bridge engineer.   Their romance was often impeded by the small town gossip.   I had initially thought that this would be a romance that would praise the small town life over all else (as is often the case) but it wasn’t.   Yay!

I did like the sexual tension and the tender way in which their loving was played out although some of the explicitness seemed forced, as if this was uncomfortable to write.   I would definitely read another Stone but I liked the second half of this book far more than the first half.   C

Best regards,

Jane

 

 

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