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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Family Matters by Barbara White Daille

Family Matters by Barbara White Daille
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (224 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Poppy

Kerry Anne MacBride and her quirky family are a package deal—get one, you get them all. The high school art teacher is stubborn and fiercely protective of her kin, making her the absolute wrong woman for a straitlaced, hardheaded, by-the-books lawyer like Matt Lawrence, no matter how attracted she is to him. And anyway, now's not the time for distractions! Kerry has to focus on cleaning up the latest MacBride mess: a dilapidated amusement park her uncle just bought with the life savings of a bunch of senior citizens, including Matt's mom.

To restore Rainbow's End, Kerry will need Matt's help—and the luck of the Irish—because even though they clash more often than bumper cars, Kerry and Matt are about to share the wildest ride of their lives!

With one of the most endearing cast of characters I’ve read in some time, author Barbara White Daille enchanted me from the first page.

Heroine Kerry MacBride is a caretaker and it shows in everything she does, from the student she’s taken a personal interest in to the way she jumps whenever her family calls. It’s a trait that doesn’t sit well with her, really. She wants to be selfish, and tries time and again, but it never quite takes. The fact is, her parents' lack of interest in their children aside, Kerry and her brothers were well loved and she’s more than ready to share that with others.

Matt Lawrence, on the other hand, has suffered from the idea that his father abandoned him. His mother loved him, but he really struggles with the loss of his greedy, con-man father... a man who still shows up now and then, but only when he wants something.

Mix these two together and throw in a pile of senior citizens spending their life savings to renovate a run-down amusement park and you have a recipe for disaster and fun. And maybe a little romance.

I enjoyed this story very much – Uncle Bren and Gran are the kind of folks I’d love to hang out around. He is the sweetest man to ever kiss the Blarney Stone, and she is clearly where Kerry got her caretaking tendencies from, having raised two grandchildren, and still working on the other two teenage boys despite her advanced years. They always had such positive, upbeat attitudes and were my favorite characters (no offence to Kerry and Matt, but Uncle Bren and Gran stole the show).

Matt thinks his mother is being taken by another con-man and comes on the scene fussing and threatening lawsuits and basically being a nuisance to the point that Kerry has to give up what she thinks is her heart’s desire in order to stay in town and supervise the amusement park work. Matt thinks she’s crazy, she thinks his britches are a bit too tight. They both think the other is attractive and can’t believe how they feel about the enemy.

I will admit to thinking that the conflict wasn’t really strong enough to drive the story. It was obvious, at least to this reader, that Matt was (at the core) a big marshmallow and I never really took his threats seriously. Even so, Kerry did, and it definitely gave her pause when she started actually liking the man behind the lawyer.

That was a tiny issue though, and completely overshadowed by all the many good things about this fantastically fun story. If you love a quirky ensemble cast, if you want your romance sweet instead of hot, but still absolutely heart-melting, and if you love a happy ever after that makes you sigh, then I recommend you give Family Matters a try.