Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: James Gang Publishing
Date of Publication: June 17, 2013
Number of pages: 176
Word Count: 72,000
Cover Artist: Dragonfly Press Design
Jackie Delgado didn't want a new man in her life until a dreaded blind date turns out to be more exciting than she'd ever imagined.
When her youngest son leaves for college, Jackie is hit hard by empty nest syndrome and pours herself into her work as a teacher. Bowing to pressure from friends, Jackie agrees to a blind date. But when Mark Brennan calls, she realizes the date won't be 'blind.' He's the father of one of her students.
Widower Mark Brennan isn't looking for love. After only a few dates with Jackie, he realizes he's quickly forming deep feelings for her. Wracked with guilt that he's 'abandoning' his late wife, Mark resists the pull toward dynamic Jackie. When Mark's daughter begins to date Jackie's son, things become more complicated.
Can Jackie and Mark find the courage to leave the past behind and embrace a new love? And how will a surprise pregnancy affect all their lives?
So I couldn't choose just one quote. Sue me. I love Sandy James' dialogue and characters. Here are just a few of the early moments of this great read.
“Ah, Mom.” Nate groaned. “Please don’t cry.”
I sniffled. “Who says I’m crying?”
Yeah, like that tack was going to work. It wasn’t a highly effective message when a tear slid down my cheek. I wiped it away with the back of my sleeve.
Patrick put his arm around my shoulder. “Mom’s got empty nest syndrome. We learned all about it in psychology class. Women hate it when the last chick flies the coop.” He tucked his thumbs in his armpits, flapped his wings, and clucked like a chicken.
My son was a smart-ass.
“I don’t have empty nest syndrome,” I insisted, while secretly wanting to have a long talk with Patrick’s psychology professor. The man really needed to learn to mind his own damn business.
Nate rolled his eyes. “Mom, I can take care of myself.”
“I don’t have empty nest. The room’s just... dusty.” I had no idea how I was going to leave my little boy behind. I supposed the fact that my “little boy” stood six-two and out-muscled half of maledom should have impacted my opinion of his ability to be independent. But the mother in me only remembered the little boy who would cry when his older brother wouldn’t play with him.
How could such a fragile little creature possibly survive the cold, cruel world? Maybe he should stay home with me for another year or two. He didn’t need to be in college. I could home school.
My “fragile little creature” came over and gave me a hug that almost knocked me off my feet. “I’ll be fine, Mom.”
“Ms. Delgado!” Carly squealed. “Come in! Daddy’s been pacing around waiting for you. And he’s been running around picking stuff up all day. And he even shaved. On a Saturday!”
I smiled. The fact that she was so glad to see me warmed my heart. When Mark walked up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders, I warmed up a little more.
“Brat,” he said as he squeezed her arms. “You’re tattling on me.”
She grinned at him over her shoulder. “Can we order pizza now? Please?” She turned back to me and gave me a smile that showed all of her silver braces with tiny purple rubber bands. “What do you like on your pizza, Ms. Delgado?”
“Me too!” She turned back to her father. “That’s your favorite too, isn’t it, Daddy?” Her attention flipped back to me. “Daddy likes the same stuff you do. Pepperoni pizza.” She stopped, laying her index finger against her cheek as if in deep thought. “Oh! And he likes biology, too.”
It suddenly occurred to me that Carly was matchmaking. She was a budding Yenta straight out of Fiddler on the Roof. God love her, she wanted me to like her father. That wasn’t something she needed to worry about. I already did.
We never did get around to watching another movie. By the time I recovered from my “Mark bender,” I looked up at the clock and gasped.
“Oh, my stars. How did it get to be midnight?” I asked.
“Good company and pleasant conversation. Are you afraid your car will turn back into a pumpkin?” He chuckled and gave me one of those incredible smiles.
“It’s already a pumpkin.” I stood up and stretched. “I really should be heading home. I’ve abused your hospitality long enough.”
Mark jumped to his feet, grabbed my hand, and tugged me into his arms. Damn, it was like some romantic movie as he stood there staring into my eyes. He was kissing me a second later.
Only four guys had kissed me in my entire life. At least it was four if you didn’t count my father and my weird cousin Henry who kissed every woman he could get his hands on. But even with my limited experience, I knew this man was something special—this kiss was something special.
I adore Sandy James writing. I can't help it. I am a sucker for witty dialogue and true to life characters - and every one of her books has been chock full of both. This book was quickly added to my TBR pile when I found out that one of the characters from this book will be the love interest in Fringe Benefits, the next book in her Ladies that Lunch Series. I was super lucky enough that when I expressed an interest, Ms. James sent me a copy to review. Since I finally found an afternoon that I could just set and read with no interruptions and no deadlines looming, I dived in. 2 word - Loved It.
As I get older, I find that I just can't read most books about teens or young 20 somethings, especially in contemporary romances. Most just don't have the maturity level for me to connect with. That is not the case with Ms. James books. Let's take Jackie Delgado. She has just celebrated the twelfth anniversary of her thirtieth birthday. As I am currently staring the same age in the face, I can commiserate with many of the things that she is experiencing. I too have hated admitting to forty. Add in that she is a teacher, a member of the working class and she could be a friend or co-worker. Watching as she deals with the realities of things like Empty Nest, Midlife Crisis', and life after divorce, I can totally identify with her and the issues she is dealing with. There are no uber-sexy billionaire biker/rock stars here. Just hard working people, dealing with everyday problems. Completely relatable in every way.
You can see yourself in Ms. James romances. Because after all, I'm not really looking for an billionaire alpha male stud to come, sweep me off my feet and whisk me away. That's just a fantasy. But a solid dependable guy who will stand beside me day in and day out? That's a reality I think we are all looking for. This book made me snicker and cry, sometimes at the same time. An awesome 5 star read.