So this past summer I’ve taken a family psych course and we briefly touched on single fatherhood among other modern family-related issues. I like to think single fatherhood always existed since we could…you know, procreate, but it’s transformed into a more acknowledged scenario in North America particularly.
Why am I blabbing about single fathers?
Well I’ve already read one book with a single father lead and I was able to dig around my monstrous TBR book shelf to find another romance touching on the subject of male, single parenthood and the difficulties associated with parenting in general (raising kids are hard, go figure).
That find was Laura Bradford’s Storybook Dad, and like the title suggests fairy tales and unfulfilled childhood dreams are a motif in the story.
Our lead this time around is more average. An accountant single dad raising his son, and of course because I assume accounting is boring(sorry mum and dad!) hero Mark Reynolds needs some action in his life. And what better way than to join heroine Emily’s entrepreneurial classes offering a range of daredevil hobbies, like rapids rafting, survival camping and rock climbing?
On a more serious note Mark is there for other personal reasoning. His wife died and he’s trying to regain something of equilibrium, and he joins Emily’s class because he wants to try something new.
In a similar conflict Emily started her company offering these classes because she wanted to prove something to herself. AND this isn’t a spoiler she’s been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That was a tough one to swallow for me as a reader. I’ve never read a book where the heroine was sick. I think there might have been one book where the heroine was on remission from cancer, but that was it.
I actually set the book aside for a couple hours before I convinced myself that it was a romance and something GOOD had to happen—I mean it’s Harlequin—and I wasn’t even setting myself up for a HEA, just cautious of making myself cry and wondering how I would cheer myself up if I did.
I didn’t cry. Okay, maybe once if you count getting misty-eyed. There is one scene that will make you definitely sniffle at the least, or smile, or react in some normal human way.
In her opening letter to readers the author discusses her own journey and the spark of inspiration for the cast and conflicts for the book after she was diagnosed with MS.
Of course there is a child involved, and like the only other romance with a child character, Mark’s preschool-aged son Seth Reynolds makes a splash and rocks the starting waves of a companionate-type love between the couple on top of the separate sexual attraction.
There is a sex scene that is moderately explicit, as in there are some details mentioned. But it’s more tender need than flip-your-hair, brandish-your-feather dusters steamy bedroom peeping.
I had no regrets reading the book. The dialogue surrounding the MS, and there was a lot because it was the main source of conflict, had me questioning my level of empathy. I think I came the closest to evoking empathy in the moments Emily openly discussed her MS.
Does that make me sound like a heartless monster?
I mean I got a bunch of sympathy, but the sympathy gave way and instead I just kind of started stepping into Emily’s shoes, rather than reading the book like an audience.
All right enough of my defending myself, and I just might be a heartless monster.
Anyways my rating is based on a couple of misses for me.
1) No small-town community feeling. The other Harlequin American Romance had a vibe of more community than this book. There weren’t a lot of secondary characters introduced and none I felt a strong attachment and/or curiosity towards… Yeah. It’s more a personal flavouring, but I would have liked to see how the community as a whole reacted to Emily’s MS. Though it was made clear that Emily flied solo and only the handful of her close friends and family members knew of her condition. She also isn’t living near family, so all of that kinda made the “community feel” factor nearly impossible.
2) Disconnect with hero’s logic. I felt that Mark was all over the place in his reasoning for holding up his conflict to keep Emily away. I mean I get that he doesn’t want to hurt his son and all, and you have to read the book to find out why he believes he wants to hurt his son, but come on! Emily’s rational spoke more volumes. I think he handled a lot of things very stupidly.
3) Ending felt clichéd and rushed. My gawd that ending was pretty bland. Like I was reading a fairy tale, like those children’s book fairy tales sans the weird pedo and horror elements. I don’t know what I expected, but it was cheese. Another topic is brought up at the end of the novel, too. The decision of child-bearing and disease (in this case of the neurological variety), and Emily and Mark make a decision.
Now go read the book and find out what that decision is.