Last Saturday was a cool, cloudy, rainy day during which I craved two things. Some fast, comfort food and a book I could read in a few hours. Luckily for me,Tempting Zack had just come out. Since I had enjoyed the first book in this series, Marrying Owen, I settled down with the new one and some hot chocolate. Tempting Zack was a fairly nice little book, the romance equivalent of fast food. It fed my reading hunger for a few hours, but there was nothing particularly memorable about it. Still, it chugged along nicely and helped me while away a dreary Saturday afternoon.
Lovers of beta heros will adore Zack Taylor. Zack is the master craftsman in the home renovation firm of Bachelors Inc. He’s a good-looking single father who is devoted to his daughter, Savannah. Zack is about as far from being a Duke of Slut as you can get, since the only woman he has ever slept with was his first wife. While Zack is a kind of hippie guy, into organic foods and recycling, his attitudes toward women are straight out of the Ozzie and Harriet era.
When Savannah falls off the garage and breaks her arm, Zack takes her to the emergency room and runs into Dr. Kayla Burns, the doctor on call. Zack is not all that comfortable around professional women, since his first wife left him and baby Savannah in order to persue her career and has not had any contact with them for ten years. Since then, Zack has not dated at all and has lived almost a monastic life. Kayla and Savannah bond and pretty soon Savannah has invited Kayla over for dinner, to her father’s initial discomfort.
It doesn’t take too long for Zack and Kayla to become friends though. They are very compatible and both are lonely and long for something more. Kayla is almost forty and has had some unsatisfactory relationships with very alpha, macho men in the past. Kind, gentle Zack is just the kind of man she has been looking for, but his hang-ups about women who work is the wedge that could drive them apart.
There is not a lot of plot in Tempting Zack. Zack’s problem with women who have careers is the big sticking point in the book. He is presented as a man who feels more deeply than the average male. I have often encountered women in romance novels who, when they are betrayed by the man they loved, reacted by withdrawing and becoming celibate. While I have encounted male characters who react to betrayal by withdrawing, they don’t become celibate – more often they become promiscuous. Zack is an original character in that respect.
Kayla is very likable and sympathetic. She is a woman who longs for love, committment and a family; but she is not about to give up the career she has worked so hard for to soothe Zack’s irrational fears. She reacts to Zack’s concerns with love and common sense and then she can only hope that he realizes that she is not like his ex-wife – an either/or woman. Kayla is a both/and woman – she wants to be both a doctor and a wife and mother and is perfectly capable of doing the jobs.
Tempting Zack is nothing new, but it is pleasant. Not all books we read are memorable masterpieces and this one certainly is not, but it helped me pass a gloomy rainy afternoon.