Anything For His Children
2002 has not been a good year for me when it comes to series romances. I have been cowboyed, secret babied and sheiked to the point where even my easy going self is about to scream “enough already!” One day at the used bookstore, I went on an extended browse and settled on Karen Templeton’s Anything For His Children. After I read it at home (in one sitting), I immediately drove back to the bookstore to get her entire backlist. Wow – this is no one-shot wonder – This lady is a keeper.
Several of Karen Templeton’s books, including this one, are set in the small town of Spruce Lake, Michigan. “Aha!” you say, “there’s an undercover SEAL, or a burnout cop, or a rancher with amnesia living there.” Umm, sorry, Guy Sanford is a real-estate agent and a single father, whose wife ran off and left him with three young children to raise.
“Oh, then – he must hate all women because of his evil wife and plans to have meaningless sex with the poor heroine just like he has had with a whole string of women, since that’s all they are good for.” Sorry, you’ll have to find another book. Guy is too tired from working and taking care of his children to be a Duke of Slut. Also, he had made a promise to himself that he would not parade women in and out of his children’s lives, and he has kept it. A realistic and decent man as a hero? I perked up and read faster.
The real-estate agency Guy works in is owned by Elizabeth Louden and her mother. At first Elizabeth is not thrilled with Guy since they are total opposites. Elizabeth is neat, precise and…well, stuffy. Guy is not. He has a ponytail, wears an earring and dresses like he never heard of success (or maybe he’s colorblind). Guy also loves slapstick comedy, plays the piano and has a Dr. Who coffee mug. O.K., now I’m in love with him! At first, Elizabeth is inclined to treat Guy like something she scraped off her shoes, but when he turns over a listing to her he could have kept for himself, she’s surprised. Before she knows it, Elizabeth is involved with Guy and his children, especially his 8-year-old daughter Ashli who’s been most hurt by her mother’s desertion.
Ashli and Elizabeth’s relationship is a rocky one. Both of them are conflicted and for very similar reasons. Ashli’s mother ran off and left her; Elizabeth’s father died when she was young. Both of them feel abandoned and both of them are afraid to love and to trust. Eventually they both have to face their feelings and if the resolution is a bit too perfect, well this is a series romance, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ll say it again, I loved Guy. He is that rare creature, a fundamentally good and decent man. He’s not a rake, he’s not a stud, he’s not a man who risks life and limb everyday. Guy works hard, comes home tired and fights a losing battle with clutter. He is almost like a modern version of a Carla Kelly hero, and like her, Karen Templeton can make a good man an interesting character.
Elizabeth is a complex woman and not just a bag of quirks. She is fearful of love yet yearns for it, and if she goes from a house filled with crystal and white furniture to one filled with dog hair and crumbs really fast – well, it is a series romance. The sexual tension is particularly well done, and the love scenes are tender and utterly delicious. Elizabeth’s mother, her friend Nancy, and Guy’s other children all add interest to the book and are not simply wallpaper.
Karen Templeton is now on my auto-buy list. I’ve read all her books but one (I’ll track that one down soon) and I have enjoyed them all. It seems like every time I get depressed about the series romance, along comes an author like Karen Templeton to give me hope. Like I said, this lady is a keeper.