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And The Award Goes To… Challenge
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) — Read a romance where the mother has left her child in care of their father when she left
Her Summer Lover by Marisa Carroll — hero has custody of his children after divorce:
This was the ninth book in the Hotel Marchand series. The setting moved from the hotel in New Orleans where all of the previous books had been set to a small town a few hours away. The h/h had originally fallen in love the summer after they’d graduated high school when she came to town for a visit. But the hero believed her to be out of his league, so he’d dumped her once he went into the Army. The hero was now the chief of police. The heroine came back to town for her godmother’s funeral and to settle her estate. Unbeknownst to the h/h, her godmother and several of her friends—including the hero’s mother, grandmother, and ex-mother-in-law—were illegally smuggling their prescription drugs from Canada. The drugs were hidden in the godmother’s antique store and they wanted to retrieve them without alerting the h/h. The often light-hearted tone of this subplot was at odds with the prologue which was from the POV of a racist ancestor of the hero’s and contributed nothing to the story. The hero was very judgmental about how his ex-MIL and ex-wife dressed which made him look like a foolish jerk. The heroine was a fund-raising consultant. She wasn’t sure she could live in the small town. Things were further complicated by the fact the h/h had nearly reunited seven years prior to the start of the story. We were given some of the details but things were never made totally clear. There was also a subplot about the hero’s ex-wife. The prescriptions subplot was boring and took up too much page time for very little payoff. I would have enjoyed this book more if the romance had been the focus, but the author attempted to cram in so many subplots that the romance came off as a distant afterthought. I liked the h/h and his kids, but overall a very frustrating read.

The Alphabet Challenge Variation Reprise
B = A Secret Life by Barbara Dunlop:
The hero was an arrogant jerk who thought he was all that and a bag of chips. He’d fired his personal assistant for coming on to him (no mention of going to HR or documenting the incidents of her behavior). The assistant then leaked the secret identity of one of his authors which ran as a featured article in the New York Times. Instead of concern the heroine’s identity had become public he set out to charm her into not being angry so he could keep her as a client. Rather than consider her feelings he wondered how they could best capitalize on the situation. The heroine was worried that her old-fashioned family would disown her after discovering she wrote mystery books especially since her most recent release included a *gasp* bondage scene. He didn’t grovel at all and barely apologized so it was vexing that she immediately forgave him, especially since her identity had been a secret for ten years. Her family’s attitude that popular fiction was beneath them was ridiculous. It didn’t help that the heroine herself thought her books had no redeeming value. Or that she’d based her latest book on a murder/suicide of one of the local’s parents without asking and he was convinced her fictional take on the situation would help prove his father’s innocence. There was a secondary romance between the heroine’s sister and the local which I wished had been given more page time. The heroine was often wishy-washy and the hero got on my last nerve repeatedly. I loathed that events were such the heroine ended up apologizing to the hero after his crappy behavior. But I enjoyed the sister’s character arc, the mystery, and the secondary romance so was glad I continued reading rather than DNFing.

K = A Second Chance by Kara Lennox: The hero was the whiny bad guy in the earlier story arc. He was such a cowardly jerk and many of his so-called pranks could have severely injured or killed people. While his motivation could have been understandable, his constant blaming of others for his own actions was wearisome. One of the main problems was the fact we had his POV in so many of the books. The continuing plot required his character to persist in his selfish pursuit of revenge through the first two-thirds of the series when he could so easily have come forward. So his turnaround from bad guy to “hero” did not work for me on multiple levels despite his apologies. He now ran his grandmother’s B&B in the small town. The heroine owned a bakery and was a single mother. Her husband had been killed in prison and she didn’t want her daughter around anyone with as much as a speeding ticket. The hero chose to keep his past a secret despite multiple opportunities to be honest with the heroine. I could also have done without the slut-shaming from the heroine. The plot felt very paint-by-numbers. I didn’t like the rewrite of history so the hero was now somehow the wronged party. Overall a disappointing read,

J = The Legacy by Shirley Jump : The heroine owned a funeral home and was head of the committee to save the town’s run-down opera house. The hero was a photographer from Canada and had recently inherited it. He started off as a rude and judgmental jerk. He had issues with his parents and refused to stay in one place for long. The heroine’s intellectually disabled younger brother was treated as a plot device rather than a well-developed character in his own right. The hero eventually admitted he’d been wrong, but he was still exasperating. The heroine was often judgmental as well. A few unexpected twists, but overall a boring read. Despite issues with many of the books, I’m glad to be done with the series,

  • The 20th Century Challenge: 2 down, 17 to go…
  • The Alphabet Challenge Variation: 10 down, 9 to go…
  • The 19 in 19 Phonics Challenge: 11 down, 8 to go…
  • The Nonchalant Nineteen Challenge (The Whittler) — novellas: 2 down, 17 to go…
  • And The Award Goes To… Challenge: 12 down, 7 to go…
  • The Alphabet Challenge Variation Reprise: 5 down, 14 to go…