The Bachelor Project

The Best Blind Date in Texas

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A Cry at Midnight

 
Daddy Lessons
by Victoria Chancellor
(Harl. American #1098, $4.99, G) ISBN 0373-75102-8
***
It is rather amazing how many people in category romances either have children they donít know about or are divorced with children. In Daddy Lessons, we have both: a mother with a six year old son trying to recover from a nasty divorce and a man who unexpectedly discovers he is the father of an eight year old girl.

Kate Wooten (sister of Travis Whitaker from Coming Home to Texas) was married to Ed Wooten and never guessed he was stepping out on her and losing all their money. She lived contentedly in her soccer mom world until the bottom fell out. Now Kate and her son, Eddie, are in Ranger Springs, Texas, to start a new life. She is a school teacher who has never actually taught other than a few days as a student teacher and a substitute. She is hoping that she will get hired full time and be able to find a place of her own. Meanwhile she is living in the garage apartment at her brotherís ranch.

Luke Simon is a retired Hollywood stunt man and animal trainer. He bought land in Ranger Springs because he is looking for a place to hide from the world. His father was a famous man, who left him money in his will as his ďunnamed illegitimate son.Ē Luke is using that money to buy the ranch and build a home for animals that are no longer needed. These animals include circus animals, such as two zebras, and show business animals that have gotten old. He is saving them and many others from death.

Luke has baggage, too. His mother worked her whole life to raise him without a cent from his father, who did not acknowledge him and had another family of his own. Just days after moving to Texas, Luke discovers he has an eight year old daughter named Brittany. He and her mother, Shawna, had a brief affair just after Lukeís mother passed away. Shawna tried to find Luke, but didnít realize his name was different than his motherís. Shawna died in a car accident and her brother has now tracked Luke down to take over the care of his daughter.

Luke is twenty-nine and a bachelor. He has no idea what to do with kids. The only kid he has had contact with is Kateís son, when he comes over to the ranch out of curiosity. Luke sees how good Kate is with Eddie and with her class, so he enlists her help to teach him all he needs to know. He invites her to help him set up his house so that it is welcoming for Brittany, too. They have two weeks to get everything done.

On the surface, this was a nice tale about two people with their own needs and agendas fighting their attraction as they come to grips with all that life has dealt them. Neither is as confident as they portray to the world and they need their mutual friendship, which evolves into more. But both fight it because they have children who must come first.

Underneath, there is not much more to it. The author attempts to provide depth by giving each a background that cries out for love and something more solid than they had. Luke and Kate both show emotions and at times they even discuss and share those emotions. But the short time frame just doesnít seem realistic. The barriers fell away too quickly and things occurred just a tad too conveniently. Both kids have lived through traumatic events with seemingly no consequences. Eddie is adventuresome but never seems concerned that his world has turned upside down. Brittany, in the few short chapters in which she appears, seems way too well adjusted for all that has happened to her.

There is a look at the characters from the other Ranger Springs books, but this book stands on its own. Luke and Kate are likable and their romance is enjoyable, but it is superficial at best. That sums up Daddy Lessons pretty well.

--Shirley Lyons


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