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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Daddy Catch by Leigh Duncan

The Daddy Catch by Leigh Duncan
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (216 pgs)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

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?

This is a story about the dreams of youth not living up to the spotlight of adult reality. It explores what a man is willing to give up and how far he will go in his pursuit of the perfect life, and readers find out if a woman can derail it all with a fishing pole.

Dan’s character certainly has depth and substance. He survived being a kid with no parents, being dumped into the foster care system and, through determined grit and perseverance plus the guidance of a loving couple, made something of himself in spite of it all. There’s a lot to like about his personality. He’s got a big heart and Ms. Duncan made that very clear to readers. His dialogue shines whenever he interacts with Jess, the heroine. His conflict is mostly internal. He has to face some ethical and moral dilemmas which will affect not only him but others as well. It’s a heavy responsibility and he shoulders it well. Yes he makes a few mistakes but that made his character more believable and interesting.

Jess is a single mom with a couple of passionate interests. The first is her son and the second is the land that borders her fishing grounds. She’s driven, protective and, as such, is blinded to some of her faults. Her conflict is a combination of external and internal. Outside forces push her to action and eventually she realizes not everything she does is altruistic. Jess was graceful about eating humble pie, eventually.

The author certainly knows her way around fly fishing. The details were specific and numerous and after awhile I accepted that about this story. Jess’s job is to teach Dan how to fish and since my own family has taken up the hobby, I have since come to understand that there is a unique language to it and it takes some getting used to. Humor abounds. Another detail that I was impressed with is the author’s understanding about the deficiencies and injustice with the foster care system. I’d read about it in the news so I know it’s real. Ms. Duncan tackled a sticky wicket with grace and consideration. I wish more people were like Dan and the solution as wonderful as what Jess did to bring it about. It was a strong emotional hook.

Another aspect of The Daddy Catch that I appreciated was how Ms. Duncan handled the presence of Adam, Jess’s little son. He’s an adorable character and very much present throughout the book. His character wasn’t a prop but an integral character to the romance. He was the bridge that eventually brought the two together by opening Jess’s eyes to the man Dan really was. Dan’s interaction with Adam presents readers with a clear picture of how appropriate and qualified the hero is to be a male role model for an impressionable child. The author’s writing made that very clear.

As much as I adored this story, I ran up against a question mark. There is sensual tension and a strong growing love between the characters, of that I have no doubt. Ms. Duncan wrote a wonderful romance. What made me pause was the revelation at the end. It’s sweet and it makes the happily ever after practically perfect. But it stems from something that obviously happened a bit earlier in the book but it was so obscure, I missed it. I re-read the book three times to find it. It’s one sentence, a breathless moment, and once I found it I was fine. But no paragraph actually explores it. If there are any readers like me who completely missed the clue, I can assure you the happily ever after is wonderful and it makes sense.

The Daddy Catch is a romance with heart. Ms. Duncan was thorough in her details in bringing Jess’s world to life. I loved the part about the manatee and enjoyed Dan’s discomfort and rebounding enthusiasm at his first class. The author provided so many endearing touches to bring her characters to life and it made my reading experience richer. I found the secondary characters to be well placed and plotted out and thought Sam was a dear. This book has a lot of personality and Ms. Duncan took the time to create a romance peppered with engaging scenes that grab the empathy and imagination within a reader. It’s well done and worth spending time with.