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Monday, September 5, 2011

Stand-in Mom by Megan Kelly

Stand-in Mom by Megan Kelly
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (250 Pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

He's Got A Lot To Learn
Scott Matthews had no idea Ginger Winchester was a teacher when they first met—he didn't even know her last name. That didn't stop them from sharing a night of passion. Scott hoped he'd see Ginger again—just not in his daughter's new classroom! Yet, somewhere under that frumpy sweater and chalk dust is the sultry redhead who's been haunting his dreams.

Smart, sensitive and nurturing, Ginger is everything Scott wants. But when Ginger discovers she resembles his first wife, she fears stepping in as a replacement mom. She wants a family, but not this way. She's happy to offer tips on handling rambunctious kids, and even helps the Matthews family adopt a big, lovable puppy. But when it comes to handing over her heart, Scott must prove to her that she's more than just a stand–in—she's the one.

A widower and a divorcee come together at different places in their lives and find the pieces of their hearts they hadn’t realized were lost.

Ms. Kelly has written a romance that touched me with its compassion and kindness. The characters have so many things going on in their lives, from the mundane, the tender and sweet, and the pains of dealing with a small community and the small minds within it.

This is a story rich in emotional detail, realistic personal drama and lessons of compromise. Ginger is the heroine who has dealt with her husband leaving her, and has come to grips with her life. She has plans and hopes and instead of waiting for things to happen, she’s taking proactive steps to get what she wants in life. She has a job that sounded rewarding and fun, not to mention tiring. And like every work place, there are lemons and leeches, jealousy and personality clashes and Ginger walked a fine line trying to deal with it all without succumbing to their level. She does a good job, and in fact too good. I wanted the author to have her character tell me what eventually happened to the coach. I wanted her to do something more pointed, but she didn’t. Ginger was too nice to the snide and viscous fellow teacher and I didn’t like that. Sure, the heroine got in a few digs at times during the tale but I really wanted her to be aggressive about it. Then again, if she did, I guess Ginger wouldn’t have been the best role model after all for the hero’s kids. The author knew what she was doing. However, based on a specific scene, I’m pretty sure I know what Ginger thought though, and I agree with her; but I really wanted to know for sure. I don’t like people getting away with doing what that other woman did. Nasty old prune. I almost wish that the heroine didn’t allow that old biddy to have the power over her as I believe she did. Those are the kinds of situations that have me talking to the book while I’m reading it.

Ginger did remain classy and nice and her personality really did compliment the hero, Scott. He’s a man who is trying to shoulder a heavy load. His shoulders are broad but even a man who has it all together loses it in the face of kids, especially his daughters. I really liked how the author had Scott reacting and relating to the Newfie in the family. It was adorable, ripe with humor and it amped up the sweet factor. I liked Scott’s patience but even more, I liked his perseverance. He knew what he wanted and why. He went after Ginger and when he floundered, unlike most men who won’t ask for directions to get to their destination, the hero wasn’t above asking for advice or help in how to get his woman. He gets tripped up however, from his own past hurts and fears. I enjoyed watching him come to grips on what was really important in life. It was awfully scary for him at one point, but he learned from it and that’s what matters most.

The author wrote the book in such a way that I took turns going to work with Scott or Ginger. Even in the normal course of a day, things happened: words got said and revelations were exposed which prompted responses and actions from either the hero or heroine that moved the plot forward.

Secondary characters were numerous but the most important were Ginger’s friends, and Scott’s two little girls, Shelby and Rena. Those kids were the catalyst for much of the good things, the sad things and even the funny moments that occurred between Ginger and Scott. If those two can survive and thrive in spite of it all, then there is a great chance that the happily ever after will be even better the second time around. The author gave me enough information to make me believe it.

The conflict is mostly internal and the story has a character driven plot. There are a few external issues that cause pressure and affect the characters’ actions a bit, but the biggest element is for the hero and heroine to get out of each their own ways. So many preconceived notions, jumped-to conclusions and mistaken interpretations make Ginger and Scott dance around each other as they learn what they need to from the other in order to fall in love. And they do fall in love, but it’s not easy or rosy or smooth. It’s bumpy. Feelings get hurt and dreams have to be altered before they see what is most important. A reader can see that it’s right in front of their faces. The entertainment comes from watching them slowly realize it. There are a lot of different levels of humor too. Some are sensual, some are outright silly and sometimes it was gentle fun which brought a warm smile to my face.

Stand-In Mom is a book with personality. Ms. Kelly crafted a tale about two people that could easily be about anyone in a reader’s community. The author took time to explore the world in which Ginger and Scott lived and used her characters to describe to me all that went on. Although there was a quick burst of passion in the beginning, the tale is basically about two people having to rebuild the road that will lead to those exploding sexual fireworks again. And they did want it, craved it even. This story is sensual, fun yet provoking, and totally satisfying. All my emotions were engaged and my interest kept. It’s a great read.