tl;dr: Undeveloped heroine but cute love story nonetheless
When Monica Rayburn strikes up a conversation with a hot “Saturdaddy” at the park, she gets more than she’s bargained for. Colm asks her out to dinner and she accepts, but he makes a strange request: they don’t talk about their children and they keep it no-strings. Monica makes a half-hearted effort to correct his misconception—Emma is her niece, not her daughter—but then decides not to. After experiencing a super hot night together, Monica feels conflicted about the deception, although she believes that based on their agreement, she’ll probably never see him again. But Colm has decided that he likes Monica a lot, and wants to pursue things.
The main conflict here is that Monica is keeping something from Colm that affects how she feels and acts around him. She’s wracked by guilt over it, but she still doesn’t want to come clean. Her reasons didn’t really resonate for me, and that’s part of the reason that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I’d hoped. Colm, on the other hand, made sense. His character was well developed and his backstory made sense with all the things that he was going through—sort of. (This hedges on spoiler territory so I’ll make it brief. The “big secret” that Colm’s late wife had was not that big of a deal. It could have been, but it was literally the best case scenario of any double life scenarios I could think of. It’s only if you think illegal immigrant immediately equals horrible, nasty, untrustworthy person on par with weapons smugglers that it has any impact at all.)
The writing itself was mostly clear although I noticed that there were many long segments of exposition set in between action scenes (and by action, I mean, in the middle of getting his kid lunch or something, it wasn’t fast-paced suspense, but there was something going on). This really broke up the flow of the story. I also don’t particularly like giant chunks of exposition, but that’s a personal preference.
Monica herself is very shakily developed. It sounds like she has a very specific type of personality, but we never actually see it. Her rigid type-A-ness is immediately jettisoned by Colm’s arrival, so while she continually thinks “I’m never like this”, the reader has no proof of that, only that of her immaculate home. I also would have liked a little of what maybe a family unit with Monica, Colm, and Aiden would have looked like, perhaps a few months in the future.
I also found it slightly unbelievable that three friends would all end up single dads through weird circumstances. It would have made more sense to me if three single dads would have found each other somehow and THEN became friends, but it seems as if they all accidentally found themselves in the same boat after knowing each other awhile. I imagine in future follow-ups in this series, we’ll meet the other 2 single dads.
I was a little disappointed with this book. Normally, I very much enjoy Maggie Wells, but I had a hard time being invested in this story, mostly because of Monica’s shallow development. Much of the parenting-related mini-plots were highly related, however, and I commend Wells on her heartwarming and accurate portrayals of parenthood and kids.
So far, this book doesn’t appear to be available at libraries. Keep an eye here to see if that changes, or to purchase from your favorite retailer.
Looking for other single dads? Try Back in the Saddle by Karen Templeton.