The Parker Project
The Parker Project is a sweet story about a widowed single father, his three children, and the librarian turned nanny who helps them become a family again. I have no idea what this story is doing as part of a series about genetically engineered superhumans, but it’s cute nonetheless.
Lost in his own grief after the death of his wife, Harrison Parker didn’t notice that his three young children were out of control. They’d managed to drive away one nanny after another, until Harrison was forced to try to take them in hand. He’s failing miserably when he takes the kids to story hour at the local library and meets children’s librarian Maggie Conrad. The children immediately fall in love with her, and Harrison can’t help noticing how attractive she is.
Desperate for help, he offers to pay her a generous salary to come over to his house and help him with the kids after she finishes work at the library. Maggie could use the money to pay off her student loans, so she agrees to help him for a brief period until he gets things in hand. As she spends more time with the Parker family, though, she begins to realize how hard it will be to say goodbye when the time comes.
This isn’t the type of story I normally read, so I was surprised at how well it worked. It’s nothing new. It’s the very common nanny plot that’s a staple of traditional series romances, albeit more contrived than most. The possibility that Harrison could convince a children’s librarian to come to his house and take care of his kids after she worked a full day was a bit much to be believed, no matter how much money he had to throw at her. There’s little in the way of external plot. It’s all about the hero, the heroine and the cute kids spending time together and growing closer to each other.
But Pickart’s writing style is light and sweet, drawing the reader into this nice little family. Readers who enjoy completely character-driven books and cute kids will find a great deal to enjoy here. Harrison is a sympathetic hero as he tries to do the right thing and keeps finding himself falling short. There are a number of moving moments as he gradually builds a relationship with his children. He’d been so consumed with his work that he never was close to them. As the story starts, they don’t like him very much and constantly reject him in favor of Maggie, until he starts to win them over, only to risk losing their trust again near the end. To be honest, I was more involved in the story of Harrison and the children than the romance, which seemed to receive less attention. Maggie was also less developed than even the child characters, and the contrived final conflict was irritating.
For followers of the Family Secrets series, this is one book that can definitely be skipped. The story’s connection to the overall series is that Harrison is asked to use his computer skills to hack into some top-secret files. This is one excuse Harrison offers for why he needs to hire Maggie, but nearly all of his work on the project takes place off-stage. It’s so inconsequential that the author doesn’t even bother to explain the complicated backstory of the series. She doesn’t have to. It’s not necessary for understanding the story, which makes this book more accessible for those not following the series, but rather pointless for those who have.
I’ve used the word “sweet” several times to describe this book, and it really is the most accurate term. It is sweet, with nice characters that earn the reader’s affection and a great deal of warmth. It’s even set during Christmas, adding another layer of cuteness to it. Light on story but high on charm, The Parker Project is a pleasant way to spend a few hours, but don’t expect much in the way of romance or a highly developed heroine.