Wilde For You by Dawn Atkins
(Harl. Tempt. #990, $4.50, PG-13) 0-373-69190-4
Tucker Manning was a troubled kid after his parents divorced.  One of his teachers, Ben Alton, became his mentor and as a result, Tucker also became a teacher.  Ben, now a principal, hired Tucker to teach English.  After several years of hard work, Tucker also qualified to be an administrator, but Ben turned him down for a job.  Ben told him that he thought Tucker was too young and, by the way, the fact the he and another single teacher had been caught making out in a school closet by part of the volleyball team, didn't help.  The teacher reminded Tucker too much of the one woman from his college days he hasn't been able to forget, even though they only spent one short evening together.

Ben recommends that Tucker apply for an administrative job in a smaller school system to get more experience.  He also encourages him to settle down so that he will be taken seriously.  Tucker is offered a job in a small school system, but only after the principal mistakenly assumes he is married because his overnight date answers his early-morning phone call.  When Tucker tells his brother, Forest, and sister-in-law, Anna, about the supposed marriage and how he's concerned he'll lose the job if his new boss learns the truth, Anna volunteers to pose as his airline pilot wife.

Cricket Wilde has been hired by Copper Corners School as a science teacher.  She doesn't have a teaching degree, but got an emergency certificate because of her varied background and the school's need for another teacher.  Cricket has tried several careers, but not yet settled on one.  She has done some work with kids and liked it.  She is great at beginnings, but not so good on the follow-through.  She is definitely a free spirit who likes to bend the rules.  When she discovers that Tucker Manning is her new boss, her thoughts also go to the one evening they spent together, but now he's married?

Cricket and Tucker have all of the typical struggles of a free spirit versus a person with responsibilities.  She decorates her classroom to look like a jungle.  He makes her change some of it to meet the fire code.  She encourages her class to fight for a cause.  He discourages her class from going to extreme measures.  She flirts with him.  He tries his best to pretend to be married and immune.  Tucker is better portrayed than Cricket.  He really is shown as a good educator, even though he is trying too hard.  Cricket supposedly grew up in a small town, but her instincts about what will fly in a small town and what won't seem off. 

In the end, the Hollywood ending at the school board meeting was just a little too unbelievable for me to handle.  I grew up in a small town and my father was on the school board.  The chances that everything would have worked out as neatly as portrayed are highly unlikely.  The relationship between Tucker and Cricket does sizzle, so the romance does work.  However, the reality of the rest of the story is a bit weak.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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