Housebreaking a Husband
As I approached the end of this book, I discovered that I was reading faster and faster. Not because it was such a good story, but because I just couldn’t wait to be done with it. Poor writing, an excess of mental lusting, and a truly boneheaded hero made reading Housebreaking a Husband an unpleasant experience. Then I took a second look at the sticker price – $26.95! No way can I recommend this book at this – or any other – price.
New to the neighborhood in coastal Soul’s Harbor, dog trainer Sarah Goldwyne meets her neighbor Trent Kasey in a most unorthodox fashion: her black Lab collides with him on the beach. She makes the mistake of thinking he’s married because he’s got a pair of toddlers in tow, but it turns out he’s their uncle. Trent’s sister Melissa recently died and left her twins, Kyle and Caitlin, in bachelor Trent’s custody. He needs to find a nanny for them so he can get back to his construction business, but all the candidates are definite no-gos. Since Sarah seems to have survived, and enjoyed, her stint as fill-in babysitter when Trent had a business meeting, he decides that she can be their nanny, too. Infertile as the result of a car accident that led to her miscarriage and desperate for children, Sarah agrees.
The stakes are upped once the children’s biological father shows up and threatens to take the twins away; it’s not that he cares about them, he just wants control of the money their mother left them. Trent will do anything to keep Caitlin and Kyle, including taking his lawyer’s offhand advice to find a wife pronto. This scenario is not based on sound legal ground. If Trent were named custodian and trustee in both a will and trust by someone with sole custody, the bio father would have quite the fight ahead – if $10,000 will make such a substantial difference to his financial health, he likely wouldn’t have enough money to mount this battle. And if the money were left to the twins in the form of an insurance policy as opposed to a trust, the court would assign someone to handle the funds. Supposing the bio dad did wrest custody away from Trent, it’s doubtful he’d be allowed anywhere near the money; there are rules in place to protect the money of minors. It may be nitpicky to make this point, but when a premise is so incredibly improbable as to be impossible, it’s difficult to become engaged in a book.
Trent was orphaned at an early age and sent to an emotionally abusive relative. He was later abandoned by a fiancée who committed suicide, then lost his sister to cancer. He’s leery of emotional connections, to say the least. Even though he knows that he can never love Sarah – or anyone else – ever again, because to love is to open himself to more hurt and loneliness in the long run, he suggests a marriage of convenience to Sarah. Of course, by this time she’s in love with Kyle and Caitlin, and more than halfway there with Trent, and she knows she shouldn’t do it because she’ll only get hurt in the end, but she decides to take everything one day at a time, hoping that the happiness she feels with Trent and the kids will translate into something more permanent down the road. Trent can’t bring himself to make the proposal, so in the end it’s Sarah who pops the question, and they’re off to Vegas for a quickie wedding.
Trent is a total lunkhead, with absolutely no effective communication skills and less common sense. What responsible parent or guardian, in this day and age, would hire someone to take care of the children for whom he’s responsible without even asking the prospective childcare provider for, oh, say, one or two references, to say nothing of even a cursory background check, which anybody can get on the ’Net these days? And then he marries her, knowing so little about her. Not exactly the brightest bulb in the chandelier. His thoughts about Sarah run the gamut from “I can’t love her – I can’t allow myself to love anybody ever again” to “Isn’t she cute? God, I’d love to kiss her and hold her and make love to her, and oh, those long legs and oh, that tawny hair. Gee, too bad I can’t love her or anybody else ever again,” although these are not direct quotes. The backstory explaining his reluctance is so stale and cliché-ridden that I kept rolling my eyes and muttering, “Oh, puh-leez,” all the way to the end.
Sarah fares a little better; at least she’s honest with herself, and acknowledges the fact that she’s falling in love with Trent. I liked it that she wasn’t perfect: couldn’t cook worth a damn, and the only reason the relationship got anywhere was because she never really bothered to hide her true feelings for Trent. If she’d left it up to him, they would have separated as soon as the ink was dry on the custody papers. On the other hand, she’s completely inept at reading Trent, and constantly allows him to rebuff her overtures. Why she fell in love with such a clueless dolt totally escaped me.
Most of the rest of the cast is unremarkable, with two glaring exceptions. Sarah’s mother is a parody of the meddling “I just want what’s best for you/all I want is grandchildren” type (isn’t that a loving, sensitive thing for a woman to tell her daughter, who she knows can’t have kids?). To add to the woman’s unsympathetic character, Sarah’s dad assures her that no matter what her mom said at the time, if Sarah hadn’t lost the baby her mother wouldn’t really have insisted she give the child up for adoption. Isn’t that sweet? And now all she does is nag Sarah to get out there and find another guy. What a supportive and understanding mom, huh? And I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the biological father of the twins show up for his court appearances wearing a Snidely Whiplash top hat and moustache.
The ending of the book had me boiling mad and dragged the book from a D to an F for me. I won’t give too much away, but let’s just say that the message that’s been telegraphed throughout the whole thing (biology doesn’t make you a parent; love does) is completely contradicted. Some of the writing is pretty awkward, with choppy sentence structure and ridiculous metaphors – “Trent’s mossy green eyes pleaded with her. She shifted uncomfortably. If only his eyes weren’t the color of moss.” I don’t know about you, but to me nothing says “attractive” like wet, slimy stuff that grows on tree bark. In several places, the use of pronouns without a clear antecedents jarred me out of the story. And the telescoping of events had me rereading a couple of passages because they didn’t make sense the first time around: we go from the wedding kiss to the end of the wedding dinner within about a line or two. Sarah gets mad and goes for a long walk on the beach; Trent hears the door close, has about half a thought and before you know it, Sarah’s stomping back into the house.
I cannot imagine anyone spending $26.95 for a book of this quality. Take the cash and put it to better use, be it at a new – or used – book store. Your time and money will be better spent that way.