One in a Million by Susan Mallery and A Dad for Her Twins by Tanya Michaels
Reading Level: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 28, 2012 (originally published in 2003)
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases
Pages: 512 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
I hadn't read either of these authors before and discovered them through a link recommendation on Amazon. This is a Kindle edition, "two-for" deal. Susan Mallery's One in a Million was originally published in 2003, and A Dad for Her Twins by Tanya Michaels was originally published in 2008. This Kindle edition is well formatted and edited.
In One in a Million, 33-year-old widow, Stephanie Wynne, has kept a secret from her eight-year-old twin boys and 12-year-old son in order to save them from disillusionment--she wasn't in love with her dead husband, and she didn't respect him either. He was impulsive and immature, never helped her around the house or with the kids, and was a lousy provider as well. Just before he died, he came into an inheritance and made the one contribution to his family that actually worked out--purchasing a huge house in a small town to turn into a bed and breakfast.
When 31-year-old widower, Nash Harmon, arrives to stay at Stephanie's B&B, they are instantly attracted to each other, but Nash is as leery of a lasting attachment as Stephanie. Like him, his wife was with the FBI. She died on a joint assignment, and Nash blames himself, even though his boss and team members have assured him there was nothing he could have done to save her. Nash and his twin Kevin (hero of the book in this series just prior to this one) were born illegitimately to a 17-year-old mother, and they have recently discovered their promiscuous father had abandoned other legitimate and illegitimate half-siblings in multiple locations in the country, several of them here in the town where Stephanie lives.
Ms. Mallery states in a preface to her fans that this is a "delicious romantic adventure with a sexy guy who not only" makes the heroine's "toes tingle, but also folds the laundry and fixes breakfast." He can also fix a washer, clean the kitchen, and is great with Stephanie's kids. He is, in particular, able to relate to the two who are twins because Nash is a twin himself.
This is definitely a feel-good read. It is part of a series called Hometown Heartbreakers about the various offspring from multiple mothers of womanizer, Earl Haynes (see below for a full list of this series). It might be interesting to someone who has read the entire series from start to finish to have all the couples from the first nine books show up for three separate family gatherings in this book.
All of these various couples are, of course, gorgeous because they have been protagonists of romance novels. In addition, because most of these couples involve one or more partners with children from previous marriages and have since produced children together in their new marriage, there are multiple Haynes families with as many as five children. The extended family as a whole is presented as totally loving and mutually supportive, an idealized fantasy of large, extended family that is very common in these types of Harlequin series.
In addition, this book delivers exactly what every widow/divorcee-with-kids story from Harlequin promises: the once-burned heroine finds in the romantic hero a handsome, buff man who is a fantastic lover, doesn't care about her post-childbirth stretch marks and cellulite, thinks she's the most amazing woman he's ever met, cooks, cleans and does maintenance tasks for her, adores her kids and instinctively knows just how to parent them and, on top of all that, makes a good living. In short, he's perfect husband/daddy material. His only flaw (as is also fairly common in these types of Harlequin stories) is that he is afraid to love because of tragedy in his past. As additional romantic conflict in this story, the heroine is afraid to trust a man again because her first husband was a flake.
The kids in this story are smart and interesting--rather than just schmaltzy-cute, which is a plus. I also enjoyed spending time with Nash. Some readers get bored with perfection, but this is one fantasy that doesn't get old for most women, including me. His cleaning the kitchen was sexier for me personally than the bedroom scenes! I did skim the family get-together scenes because I found it hard to care very much about all the characters I didn't know from the previous books in the series.
Speaking of the series, for those interested, this is a list of all the books in this series:
- The Best Bride, Sil. Spec. Ed. (SSE) 933, Jan. 1995 (Travis Haynes)
- Marriage on Demand, SSE 939, Feb. 1995 (Austin Lucas, adopted Haynes)
- Father in Training, SSE 969, July 1995 (Kyle Haynes)
- Part-Time Wife, SSE 1027, May 1996 (Craig Haynes)
- Full-Time Father, SSE 1042, July 1996
- Holly and Mistletoe, SSE 1071, Dec 1996 (Jordan Haynes)
- Husband by the Hour, SSE 1099, May, 1997 (Hannah Pace, half-sister of the Haynes brothers)
- Good Husband Material, SSE 1501, Nov. 2002 (Gage Reynolds, illegitimate Haynes)
- Completely Smitten, SSE 1520, Feb. 2003 (Kevin Harmon, illegitimate Haynes)
- One in a Million, SSE 1543, June 2003 (Nash Harmon, illegitimate Haynes)
- Quinn's Woman, SSE 1557, Aug. 2003 (Quinn Reynolds, illegitimate Haynes)
In A Dad for Her Twins, 28-year-old divorcee, Kenzie Green, has nine-year-old fraternal twins to raise, supporting them with a conservative job as a bank loan officer. She's just moved to Atlanta from a much smaller town, and her kids are resenting leaving their friends. However, Kenzie has been able to re-connect with her 26-year-old sister, Ann, who has a five-month-old baby girl, and is very willing to help Kenzie with babysitting and companionship. Kenzie is temporarily stationed in a small apartment complex, and she soon discovers everyone there is like a small family. They all know each other and are all friendly, except for the neighbor directly across from her apartment, a handsome, enigmatic, and very tall artist named Jonathan "JT" Trelauney.
This story is a good match for this duo of books. They have twins in common, and a similar reason for the heroine to resist re-marriage. In this book, Kenzie's ex is a rock musician who married Kenzie when she was only 18. She got pregnant with the twins almost immediately, and her ex was useless as a father. Kenzie divorced him because, like Stephanie of the other book, she felt he was like an extra child and not worth the hassle.
JT is a widower of about 31 years of age who is afraid to ever again go through the pain he went through losing his wife. He was a successful, much-lauded fine artist before she died, but he has been unable to paint in the three years since her death.
This is also a feel-good story about a woman with kids looking for a second chance at love with a man who is good father material. Like Nash, he is wounded and guilty and afraid to love. And like Nash, he is instinctively great with kids.
I enjoyed Kenzie's relationship with her sister and the family of affiliation with the quirky neighbors in Kenzie's apartment complex. This is a fast, easy read to while away an afternoon.