by Karen Tomsovic
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Published: December 2015
Publisher: Not So Maverick Publishing
Paperback: 364 pages
Today was a day for writing at home, and Martin Leon was grateful for that.
When widowed father of eight Martin Leon remembers that he forgot to invite an important guest to a birthday party for one of the kids, who can blame him? Since his wife’s death, he’s struggled to juggle the demands of a large family with the equally demanding job as head writer of the daytime soap opera he and his wife once co-wrote together, but which he must now pen alone in the face of a dwindling audience, an executive producer only too happy to alter the course of his stories at her slightest whim, and a nagging case of writer’s block.
Martin might love a good soap opera, but that was never the case with Roxanne Hunter. She parlayed her sexy role on After the Loving into a lucrative, luxury-bedding business years ago and didn’t look back. Just when she was on the brink of having it all, the universe pulled the rug out from under her, leaving her to nurse a devastating double loss of her own.
Accepting Martin’s last-minute invitation, Roxanne decides it’s the perfect getaway to take her mind off her lonely life. All she wants is to fulfill a promise she once made to Martin’s sister and find out how he and his brood are coping with grief. Though Martin may wake up one of these days ready for a woman again, Roxanne has no intention of reliving the days of her youthful, secret crush on him.
But the females in Martin’s family have other plans. Startled by the revelation that she is as much a stray as anyone else Martin has taken into his household, Roxanne nevertheless allows herself to be enfolded into the embrace of family life and into a romance with him.
Can she fulfill her promise to him to get through fate together, or will the universe – and the past – pull the rug out from under her one more time, just as she’s about to get the happy ending she always wanted but never dared dream she’d have?
Fans of feel-good romance will want to grab this witty, insightful story of a flailing single father and the femme fatale who brings him back to life.
Rather than an insta-love, there is a lovely romance that blooms in time.
Star couple (Roxanne and Martin) is gradually developed and described as separate strong individuals throughout the story. It takes some matchmaking maneuvering from female forces (via Martin's family) for things to come together.
Of course, lots of fun (and a bit of drama) color this tale before the couple unite.
It was interesting to learn about the daytime tv soap opera industry.
Got me thinking of spousal grief and spinsterhood.
Sailing back toward them for another push, Lana opened her mouth and screamed. "Higher!"
Roxanne heaved a bit harder. Obviously she was trying hard to please. In doing so, she loosened the scent of her perfume and sent a couple hundred flowers Martin's way. He inhaled with a little too much pleasure.
"Now we've got Nilda in that room," he said. "She talked me into getting that new phone everyone's lining up for."
"Guess Nilda doesn't think cell phones cause cancer," Roxanne said. A wicked smile crossed her lips. "Can you handle one of those?"
She remembered his technophobia. Martin smiled wider. "What do you think?"
"I think you can't tell your hashtag from your—"
Lana screamed out again. "Higher!"
Roxanne eyed the listening five-year-old and left her remark unfinished. She and Martin traded glances and shared a mutual laugh.
"You know my aunt," Martin said. "You can't tell her anything. According to her—based on the always-to-be-trusted Internet—you’ve had two nose jobs, an eyebrow lift, breast augmentation, cheek implants..."
"Why, I used to be a man."
"... and an earlobe tuck."
"She was right about the nose job. But there was only the one."
Lana sailed back again. "Higher!"
This time Roxanne replied with a tentative "Uh...okay?" because both she and Martin could see the swing beginning to veer toward the brink of control.
Martin stepped in and brought the swing to a stop. "No higher."
Her fists in a helpless clench, Roxanne shrank back, teetering on one awkward heel of a cool shootie. "Sorry."
Martin patted Lana on the head. "We don't need any trips to the emergency room today."
Roxanne made some obligatory listen-to-your-father type comment and then wound Lana down—figuratively—with a suggestion to see the new kitten.
Martin moved to lift his daughter out of the swing and as he did, his shoulder creaked, causing Roxanne to glance around for the source.
"Was that you?" she said. "Or the swing?"
With Lana safely on the ground, Martin rubbed his shoulder. "It's just a little rheumatism. It comes and goes."
"Ah, you've got arthritis."
"I don't have arthritis," he insisted. "I have rheumatism."
"It's okay, Martin, we all get older. It happens. Even I have to wear reading glasses from time to time."
"Even you?" Martin tsked. He couldn't wait to hear Stephanie's pronouncement about those.
Roxanne had always been a beauty, and as he watched her toddle across the lawn with his daughter, realized she still was. From the moment she’d stepped out of her splashy convertible, she and her dark hair and her air of red roses had captivated him. His family, also dazzled, could not stop talking about her or to her. His seven-year-old niece, who would rather die than be the center of attention, seemed relieved that someone else had taken over the spotlight at her own party and gratefully basked in the reflected light of the mysterious stranger drawing everyone around her like a magnet.
He liked Roxanne, though, and not because of her great looks and charm. When his sister had become a widow, Roxanne had been there. And when Tess was diagnosed and struggling for life, Roxanne had been there. Roxanne was so much more than a party girl. She’d proved herself to be a true friend. And for that, she had earned a place in their extended family.
She was so easy to talk to. They went so far back in each other's lives that he could converse without having to explain the back story, so to speak. He could just jump right in and unload.
Roxanne Hunter, in so many ways, was a sight for sore eyes.
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* review copy courtesy of book tour sponsored by Hello...Chick Lit