On the second anniversary of her mommy’s death eight-year-old Alyssa ditches Brownies and her best friend to take some time to herself to think about her mommy. When her daddy, Hank, finally finds her after a frantic search, she is convinced it’s time for her daddy to remarry. And she thinks her new third grade teacher would be perfect.
Hank Jefferson is a busy rancher with three kids. Widowed two years ago, he works hard to be both mother and father, making lunches, spending quality time with each child and running the house, while also running his cattle ranch. He doesn’t have time for a relationship and doesn’t want one. Alyssa’s third grade teacher makes his blood heat, but he knows it would be unethical for him to date his daughter’s teacher.
Ellen Truehart has moved to this new town in a remote location on Lake Chelan and a new teaching assignment to make a fresh start, she loves both the town and her class. Her past has taught her to be cautious around men and not to trust the system. When Alyssa starts acting out in class she has no choice, but to call in the smoking hot father of her student to try to find out what’s wrong with Alyssa.
I absolutely love the dynamics here, the widowed father, the new schoolteacher, an undeniable attraction and a little girl with a reason to help things along.
I love when Alyssa discovers they way that her father Hank looks at her teacher Ellen is different than the way he looks at other women. Leave it to an eight-year old to go on a no holds barred quest to bring them together. This is a favorite scene when they figure out what Alyssa is doing.
“She didn’t really seem happy about being naughty, in fact she looked resigned. But as soon as I told her I was going to call you, she seemed to perk up. And when I told her she was going to be staying after school for her punishment, you would have thought I had given her an award. She practically beamed.”
“Seriously? That doesn’t make sense.”
“That’s what I thought, too.”
Ellen moved even closer to him and whispered, “Don’t look, but she’s peeking out the door, watching us. Smiling like it’s Christmas.”
Suddenly the light came on and Hank knew what was happening. He groaned. “I think I know what’s going on with her.”
“What is it?”
Hank rubbed his hand on the back of his neck and he felt his cheeks heat. He cleared his throat. “Well it’s kind of embarrassing.”
“I think she’s matchmaking.”
“Matchmaking?” Ellen repeated stupidly.
Hank cleared his throat again. “Yes, after we went to dinner the other night she suggested that, well, um, that we go out together.”
“Out together? You and me? Like on a date?”
“Um, yes, exactly. I told her no. That wasn’t happening. Ever.”
Ellen jerked as if he’d slapped her.
“Uh. Not that you are not attractive. In fact, you’re way too attractive. But I told her it was inappropriate for me to date her teacher.”
“Oh, yes. Of course. I can’t date a student’s father. I could get fired over that and it’s just not worth it.”
This time Hank flinched. Ouch. Not worth it. After all the lusting I’ve done for the woman, and she doesn’t think I’m worth it.
She must have noticed his reaction because she rushed on, “Not that I wouldn’t be tempted, but, well, I haven’t been in my job long and I need to work and I don’t want to have to find a new job and move again and…” She looked so cute he wanted to kiss her.
Hank chuckled. “So we’re both tempted, but we both know it can’t go anywhere.”
Ellen sighed. “No, it can’t.” “Let’s go talk to Alyssa about it.”
“Yes.” They both turned toward the door and saw Alyssa run away. When they got to the room, she had a broom in her hand.
Hank hid a smile and said sternly, “Alyssa, please put down the broom. We need to talk to you. Come over here.”
“Okay, Daddy.” Ellen and Hank sat in chairs and Alyssa stood before them.
“Alyssa, I know you’re being naughty to get your teacher and I together.”
“How did you… I mean, no I’m not.”
“Oh? Then why are you being naughty?”
“Um, well, I’m not trying to be—”
“Alyssa, don’t add lying to your acts.”
Alyssa’s shoulders slumped. “Okay, Daddy. Yes, I’m being naughty to get you and Miss Truehart together. I think she would make you a great wife and be a very good mommy to me and the boys.”
Miss Truehart gasped and turned a delightful shade of pink. Apparently she hadn’t realized Alyssa was campaigning for a new mother.
Penick,Shirley. The Rancher’s Lady: A Lake Chelan Novella (Kindle Locations 556-596). UNKNOWN. Kindle Edition.
Hank and Ellen do become friends but they fight their attraction for what are practical reasons. However when hometown ‘boy’ Edward Jameson makes unwanted advances. Ellen’s reasons for moving here come to light and not in a good way.
A wonderful tale of falling in love again, new friends and neighbors. Lots of laughter, some tears and suspense to boot.
5 Contented Purrs for Shirley!
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Shirley Penick is a former techy turned writer. She is writing a small town contemporary romance series based in a fictional town on Lake Chelan in eastern Washington. She has lived in Colorado, Hawaii and currently Washington. She’s a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and the local chapters GSRWA (Greater Seattle RWA) and Eastside RWA.
The mother of two grown children and grandmother of two adorable grand-daughters. She started reading at a young age with the Nancy Drew mysteries and has continued to be an avid reader. Primarily reading romance in most of the genres.
Her favorite past time is playing with her grand-daughters. She has been a carnation grower’s worker, a trap club puller, a pizza hut waitress, a software engineer, an international trainer and a business program manager. And for something really unusual she once had a raccoon as a pet.