by Robyn Anders, contemporary (2003)
Books For A Buck, $2.99, ISBN N/A
Our hero Troy Garrett is hoping to start a new life with his daughter Annie after hanging up his gun (he was a mercenary) and following the death of his ex-wife. He plans to surprise Annie with a $750,000 Malibu waterfront dream house when he arrives just in time to see the house wobble and then tip over into the ocean. Jill Vilars is the heroine who is currently trying to pull together the company that just sent a house over into the sea. While Jill will insist to all and sundry that the accident is due to a technical error that can't be blamed solely on her, she decides to play nice and even let Troy and Annie stay at her place while they sort the mess out. Why do I get this feeling that Annie will be getting a new stepmother soon?
Sending the hero's house into the sea is one of the more novel ways to meet the hero in a romance novel, I must say. Dynamiting Daddy's Dream Home is actually a pretty readable story with very little that serves as an annoyance. Then again, very little stands out as well. Troy and Jill are pleasant characters with Troy being who he is has some pretty predictable baggages while Jill is generally fine as a heroine with the added bonus that she doesn't do stupid things to annoy me.
There is a dated feel to this story though, reminding me of the typical conflicts and mood in the Loveswept and Harlequin stories from the early to mid-1990s that I've read back in my early days as a romance reader. The whole "Where do we sleep now?" angle being turned into an "Oh no, we are forced to be in close proximity, ooh how nervous and exciting at the same thing!" event is one example, while another will be the heroine's rather exaggerated misinterpretation of the things Troy and Annie say or do to signify that somehow she is not the one for Troy or Annie. These issues don't drag on, fortunately, and they are confined mostly inside Jill's head. The characters behave like reasonable people on the whole except for Annie who is too obvious as the matchmaking kiddie plot device. Some the things Annie say in this story make me cringe because Ms Anders is using that poor dear as a plot device without much subtlety.
To me, Dynamiting Daddy's Dream House has an old-school feel to it since the issues faced by the characters are more prevalent in romance novels in the early to mid-1990s. An example is that nowadays, many contemporary romances prefer to have our main characters "understanding" a misbehaving brat and psychoanalyzing that brat into good behavior, but in this book, Troy is a parent who will issue a stern correction whenever Annie misbehaves. I find the lack of modern-day contemporary romance clichés in this story on the whole quite charming, with no secret agents, no secret babies, and no Navy SEALs rescuing the heroine from terrorists to distract from the romance. However, they are still clichés, ones from a bygone era or so it seems, and the number of clichés present make Dynamiting Daddy's Dream House more of a predictable and familiar comfort read instead of a story that stands out from the rest.
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