Synopsis: Finally, Rainy Jernagen has the child-filled home she's always wanted! Okay, so she still hasn't found Mr. Right, but the foster kids she's taken in fill her heart almost completely. Then handyman/rancher Nate Del Rio comes knocking, and Rainy starts to wonder if she really can have it all. There's only one problem: Nate doesn't want kids. At all. And nothing Rainy says will change his mind. Of course, she's not going to let that stop her. Not when she has a houseful of adorable allies to raid Nate's ranch and win his heart – whether he likes it or not.
First line: Nate Del Rio heard screams the minute he stepped out of his Super Crew Cab and started up the flower-lined sidewalk leading to Rainy Jernagen's house.
Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Steeple Hill Books, 2009. I don't remember where I got it – I have a zillion Love Inspired books that came from book sales, my sister, and directly through Harlequin Reader Services subscriptions.
My thoughts: When talking about Love Inspired romances, I always name Linda Goodnight as one of my favorite authors (along with Jillian Hart). But looking back over my reading logs today, I realized that this book is only the third book I've read by her (the other two being Finding Her Way Home and Missionary Daddy). Obviously I really enjoyed them, but if I hadn't already discovered her, this book would make me an instant fan.
Rainy is a sweet and likable heroine, a school teacher who is fostering a sibling group of three, plus another little girl. She's always wanted a houseful of kids and after not finding a Christian man and falling in love and having kids with him, she's turned to being a foster parent instead, putting romance on the back burner. She's not adverse to being married someday, but isn't willing to settle for just any man either.
Enter Nate Del Rio. He's certainly not looking for a wife, and he doesn't want to have any kids, ever. Which was a baffling attitude, because he's really good with the kids and they take to him very quickly. There's a tragedy in his past that is often alluded to, and it doesn't take long to sort of figure out the gist of it, though he details and circumstances are still quiet a surprise when he finally tells Rainy about it.
Great characters, including the children. Some snappy dialogue that made me laugh out loud at times. A very enjoyable book.
*SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* Do not read further if you don't wish to be spoiled:
Being a foster parent can be heartbreaking at times, and some of the storyline dealing with that left a sour taste in my mouth. I work in the adoption field and I'm familiar with my state's DHS and the push for reunification. The little girl who is not part of the sibling girl ends up being placed back into her mother's custody, and I would have really liked more resolution to that storyline, i.e., reassurance that her mother really had turned her life around and that reunification really was the best step for that child. Because in real life it doesn't always work out that way.
Some other Linda Goodnight books currently in my TBR pile:
Rich Man, Poor Bride; The Christmas Child; A Time To Heal
His Prince's Secret Son; The Wedding Garden