Second Chance Dad
by Pamela Stone
(Harl. American #1347, $4.99, PG) ISBN 978-0373-75351-2
***
Second Chance Dad is not really a story about second chances as much as it is about a chance at love a second time around for both the hero and the heroine. And there are two children involved since each is a parent – one a widower and one a divorcee. The story flows well and is enjoyable, even if a bit predictable and at times, a bit of a cliché.

Hanna Rosser divorced her husband when he told her he was in love with a much younger woman. She left her home, her job and all of her friends to return to her hometown of Marble Falls, Texas. Hanna hasn’t been back in a while – in fact – not since she graduated high school and swore she wouldn’t return. But her 12 year old son Ashton, who suffers from asthma, needs a change too, and she is determined to keep him with her, rather than allow his father to gain custody. So Hanna and Ashton move home, are living with her mother and they are opening up a bookstore, something they had talked about when Hanna was growing up.

Vince Keegan is a local boy who met and fell in love with another local girl Belinda Maguire. He and Belinda got married just after college and have a lovely daughter McKenzie, who is also 12. Belinda and another child, Matt, were killed in a car accident about 10 years ago. Vince has raised Kenzie with the help of all of Belinda’s many brothers, sisters and cousins. He is still considered part of the family. Vince is an engineer who has his own business. He never got to reach his dream of building great bridges and traveling the world. But he is satisfied with his life and loves his daughter.

Hanna and Vince met when their children are involved in a fight at school. Another boy,Billy Baer, has been bullying Ashton – using his name, his lack of sports skills, his yuppie dressing habits and a number of other reasons. Kenzie hates seeing anyone get picked on so she has come to Ashton’s rescue, asserting her tomboyish ways and giving Ashton moral as well as physical support. They soon become fast friends.

Hanna reluctantly agrees to the friendship only because Ashton demands that he be allowed to choose his friends. Vince helps convince Hanna that Ashton needs some space. And he too enjoys spending time with the boy, teaching him to play ball and fish, among other things.

Vince is ready for romance, having been without a partner for a long time. He is ready to move on and see what life will bring. Hanna, even though she is wildly attracted to Vince’s looks and daredevil style, is leery of opening her heart. She still isn’t over the fact that her husband gave her up for a younger model. And Richard was never as attentive to Ashton as Vince is.

There isn’t a lot of action in this tale but there is a nice little romance. The two take is slow and recognize that there are two children to think of, too. Things happen as one might predict with fantastic sex, insecurities about what people will say in a small town, the reaction of the ex-husband and of course, second guessing by both parties. The clichés are rich – small town wonder and family-like atmosphere, the bad guy ex, the almost angelic deceased wife. I could go on, but I think you get the point. Despite all of that, Stone has written an entertaining novel that keeps the reader engaged. The children act like pre-teens, the emotions run true to form for newly divorced people and there is a sense of rightness about their romance.

Second Chance Dad is a nice way to spend an afternoon with a nice couple and their kids.

--Shirley Lyons


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