Full disclosure: I have no kids. The only reason this even matters here is that the heroine of the story has four kids, and many of her struggles and the conflicts of the plot revolve around this fact. I’ve been told in a few different instances that there are things I don’t “get” because I’m not a parent. I won’t try to dispute that truth. There are a lot of things I’ll never understand about that role, and that’s obviously going to figure in to some of my thoughts on this book.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When a baseball player returns home, he hopes to rekindle the relationship with his first love, not knowing that she’s the mother to four younger children. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
Navigating Love & Kids
I might not understand being a parent, but I do know that it can throw a real wrench in someone’s dating life. Tracy has to take care of her kids and deal with a deadbeat ex, so finding time to date the guy who left her years ago is a challenge. Luckily, she has some help from her friend and her mother, but she’s cautious and unsure of how it’s going to work, especially because she’s afraid to tell Connor right away that she’s a mother.
Lies of Omission
While I know honesty is always the best policy, I couldn’t blame Tracy for making that choice and wanting just a little time to herself to enjoy being with someone she’d been in love with. At the same time, I still felt that she was putting her kids first, and that her actions were mostly admirable, though I also agreed when she’s told she has to take care of her happiness first so she can be a good mom to her kids.
The Self Absorbed Nice Guy
It’s not often I don’t like the hero of a romance, but I have to confess, I didn’t like Connor. Though I’ll give him credit for developing a little bit and finally realizing what a bonehead he was, I found him to be very selfish. He hasn’t seen Tracy for years, he knows she was married, and he never once thought that she might have kids? Several of his later actions also seemed self absorbed, like the fact that he’d chosen to leave her, and then expects to just jump back into a relationship with her because he’s back in town.
I’ve noticed a trend of the evil ex-husband, and Tracy’s is no exception. Not only did he leave her and the kids for another family, now that he knows Connor is back, he’s sniffing around again and trying to manipulate her. He doesn’t pay his child support and his oldest boy is old enough to be hurt by the fact that he’s hurting both him and his mom. It broke my heart. The guy gets some comeuppance, which was good, but he made me angry.
Speaking of nasty characters, there’s also a school counselor who decides to tell Tracy she shouldn’t date because it’s hard on the kids and infers she should try to make it work with her ex. I hated that woman, moreso because I know there are people just like her, but this was an instance where I really wanted Tracy to be stronger. Not that she wasn’t already strong for raising four kids, but I also wanted her to know her own self worth and to tell the bitter old hag to mind her own business.
As for the baseball, I thought this one lacked the fun camaraderie of the previous one. In fact, this one actually had more team conflict, as Connor is put in charge of reigning in some of the more rowdy younger players.
The Romance Factor
Second chance romances are not my first choice, but this one was cute. I thought the chemistry between Connor and Tracy was good, and I felt for her when she thought she was going to have to give up Connor for the sake of her kids. 4/5
The Steam Factor
The steam was higher in this one, with several hot scenes between Connor and Tracy. Not going to lie though, they get their bang on in the living room of her house, and I was completely distracted by the thought that one of her kids was going to walk in on them, which would have been super awkward. 4/5
This was a cute, quick read that showcased flawed characters in a situation I don’t normally read about. While I’m not a huge fan of kids in stories, these ones weren’t over the top. The lack of contractions in the book was still there, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m not just missing a regional dialect or something. Either way, it wasn’t a deal breaker.