Once Upon a Valentine's

 
One of a Kind Family
by Holly Jacobs
(Harl. Super Rom. # 1615, $5.50, G) ISBN 978-0373-71615-9
****
Okay, I have to admit some home field advantage here.† Jacobs has written a story about an intellectually disabled adult, his brother and his life coach.† I work in a program that serves individuals with disabilities and was thrilled to see this issue tackled.† The story is excellent and issues are presented very realistically.† My only caveat is the fact that the heroine falls for the brother of one of her clients.† That kept me from giving it five hearts, but probably isnít something that will matter to someone not in the field.

Anna Chapel is a life coach in a business that she and friend run.† They assist adults with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of community living, from helping them with personal care skills to shopping to riding the bus to getting a job.† She loves her job.† She has little or no social life, primarily thanks to her motherís influence.† Annaís mother is always looking for Mr. Right and goes from man to man to find him, always devastated when things donít work out.† Anna has determined that there is no real Mr. Right so she just enjoys life as it comes. Her only dream about the future revolves around belonging to a neighborhood.† She sees herself living in a house with a big front porch with wicker furniture, where she can sit and wave to the neighbors and friends she makes.† Maybe in the back of her mind there is someone sitting next to her, but it is a blurry part of her dream.

Liam Franklin is the over-protective brother everyone expects him to be. As a twin to his brother Colm, he has always known he would be responsible for him.† Even as a younger child, he would fight kids who made fun of him, and defend Colm whenever he needed to.† When his parents died suddenly, he was thrust into the role of guardian much sooner than he expected.† He runs his own computer security business and works out of his house.† He has a housekeeper, who was a friend of his parents, but as his business is expanding, he needs someone to stay with his brother.† Even at 30 years old, Colm cannot take care of himself and definitely cannot stay overnight by himself.† So Liam contacts The Sunrise Foundation for respite help.

Anna meets Colm and discovers a man who can do much more for himself than his family gives him credit for.† She starts to work with him and teaches him everything from making his bed to making his own sandwiches to how to cook spaghetti.† Liam is resistant and scared.† He and Anna donít start off on the right foot, but he soon has to concede that Colm can do things and seems very happy that he can.†† Anna and Liam settle into a truce, only to discover that there is attraction between them.† It starts off slow and develops as the story develops.†

Liam always knew that whoever he found as a possible wife must be able to love Colm.† Most of the girls he dated felt that he cheated them because he gave so much to Colm.† But Anna not only values what he has done and is doing for Colm, she is committed to him too.†† The story follows their burgeoning romance as Colm blossoms under Annaís tutoring.† There are tough moments like when Colm rides the bus for himself for the first time and gets lost.† But there are joyous moments like when he meets two other clients of Annaís and they forge a friendship.

Liam slowly comes around and we learn what prompts his fears and resistance.† These issues just made him a stronger hero to me.† And Anna doesnít back down or give up.† As I stated, I was a little uncomfortable with the ethics.† Jacobs handles it with aplomb, albeit with little depth.† But I liked these three building a family, so I overlooked my concerns and just enjoyed the story.

A One of a Kind Family is a delight.† I will be sharing it with others as it is one of the few books to tackle this issue with sincerity, generosity of spirit and accuracy.† I highly recommend it for this and for the romance to be found in its pages. †

--Shirley Lyons


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