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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This Can't Be Love by Kasey Michaels

This Can't Be Love by Kasey Michaels
Publisher: Zebra Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (347 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Review by Poppy

One Crazy Summer...

If Molly Applegate marches to the beat of a different drummer, it's probably a naked bongo player. Gorgeous and free-spirited, Molly's set for life – provided she stays employed ten months out of the year as stipulated in her parents' will. To keep the inheritance flowing, she works as a lingerie model, a mansion-sitter, a singing-slash-roller-skating carhop ... you name it, Molly's done it. But a weekend gig babysitting her cousin Jane's daycare business might just lead to something permanent with would-be client Dom Longstreet. He's a Broadway producer who could make all her dreams come true ... if only she'd let him ...

Dom's idea of "summer vacation" is hosting a working retreat for the cast of his upcoming musical spectacular. Sure, he's also promised to babysit his niece and nephew for two weeks, but that's what the local daycare center is for, right? Unfortunately, the place will be closed just when he needs it, according to the beautiful – and exasperating – woman he finds in charge. In exchange for room and board on his estate, Molly Applegate agrees to watch the kids. But Dom can't stop watching Molly, who's fast becoming the unlikeliest of muses ... and maybe – just maybe – his perfect leading lady ...

I only wish there was a higher rating than Best Book... because this book moved and entertained me in ways that I've never been moved or entertained before. This incredible book with its funny, emotional, heartstring-tugging, unexpected characters and plot has earned not just a permanent place on my keeper shelf, but an honored one.

Let me try to tell you why -- aside from saying that in the midst of all the craziness and the chaos, the author surprised with a moment so incredibly touching and unexpected that I cried like a baby. And, even now, thinking back to it, I'm welling up again. I was that invested in the characters.

And just who were they? Let's start with our heroine: Margaret "Good Golly Miss Molly" Applegate, poor little rich girl. She grew up without parents (they existed, they just didn't know SHE existed), but she did okay. Still, she's got all kinds of issues: abandonment, inability to open her heart, runs from her problems, won't stick around anywhere long enough to care about anyone... well, until she ends up playing nanny to two kids long enough to fall in love with them. I can pretty well guarantee you'll fall in love with them, too. Why?

Let's talk about the kids: Lizzie and Little Tony (aka Al aka Butch aka... well, you get the idea). These kids are NOT perfect. Nor are they completely out of control brats. It seems that most novels portray kids as one or the other. These two were just... kids. Sometimes funny, sometimes bratty, frequently fighting with each other as all good siblings should. Occasionally picky about food, frustrated when they're bored, and most of all they have the hearts of children: open and trusting and guileless. And they're hurt when they think their uncle wants nothing to do with them for the three weeks he's supposed to be watching them while their parents are on a second honeymoon.

Let's talk about their uncle: Dominic, the Broadway producer. Dom has way too much on his plate. Instead of taking time off (like he'd promised), be brought the cast of his latest production to the house to rehearse. He's so completely stressed out that he eventually ends up ill, and Molly has another "child" to take care of. He amused me to no end with his head in the clouds, not really paying attention to what was going on around him unless it pertained to his show. The first night Molly is there with the kids, she sets up the table so they're all sitting near each other -- up until then, the kids sat w-a-a-a-a-a-y down on one end, and Dom sat at the other. Molly opens his eyes to possibilities without even really intending to. He, in turn, begins to pry open her locked-up-tight heart without meaning to.

The secondary cast was priceless and so three-dimensional I would know them if I saw them on the street. From the housekeeper to the cast to Mama Billie (and, I've never wanted someone to get their cummupance so badly in my life!), they all added so much to this amazing book!

I checked the author's website and discovered that I (horror of horrors) read this book out of order. It's actually the last in a "sort of" series -- five loosely linked books. And, the moment I'm done writing this review, I'm ordering every last one of them. I. Can't. Wait.

Ms. Michaels, thank you. You absolutely made my day. I can't recommend this book with it's well-drawn, flawed but funny characters and it's funny but touching plot enough and suggest that each one of you grab a copy of your very own.