Series: Montana Mavericks: Baby Bonanza (Book 3)
TEACHING THE RANCHER HIS L-O-V-E's!
Rust Creek Ramblings
Readers, it's back-to-school time in Rust Creek Falls, and new single mama Marina Laramie has returned to her classroom for the first time since baby Sydney was born. Did you hear about her parent-teacher conference with handsome ranching dad Anderson Dalton? Seems they bonded over his young son, Jake, and now we here at the Gazette are hearing there is a marriage in the works!
A rancher, a schoolteacher, a grade-schooler and a baby: it does paint a lovely picture. But is it too good to be true? Those in the know whisper this is a marriage of convenience to help Anderson gain custody of his son. We, however, are rooting for something more. Raise your hands, hopeful romantics, if you think Marina and Anderson's "arrangement" has the makings of a grade-A love match!
Good book. Anderson only found out about his eleven year old son a year earlier, and the boy’s mother refused to share custody. Until she showed up on his doorstep two months ago and dropped Jake off while she “worked some things out”. He has stepped right up to fatherhood, though he’s having a little trouble connecting with the boy, who only seems interested in his video games. But he is very protective of the boy and when he gets a “we need to talk” message from Jake’s teacher, he goes tearing off, certain she has it in for Jake.
Marina is a fifth grade teacher and single mother of a baby. She loves what she does and works with each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Jake draws her attention because he’s so quiet and hasn’t connected with the other kids. She has some ideas to help bring him out of his shell, but she needs to talk to his father.
Their first meeting was a bit awkward. Anderson went in expecting to have to defend Jake from something and instead gets told how great he is. It was rather sweet to see him so determined to protect his boy and then be so confused when it wasn’t what he expected. I liked seeing Marina calm him down. But there are still some communication issues as he tries to understand just what she’s trying to tell him. There’s a little chauvinism present as he turns down her solution.
By the time the encounter is over, Anderson realizes that she has made quite an impression on him, and it isn’t entirely welcome. He finds over the next few days that he can’t get her off his mind. Jake’s crush on his beautiful teacher isn’t helping things, as he talks Anderson into inviting Marina and her baby girl out to the ranch. Marina is suffering from the same problem. She has been having some very unteacherlike thoughts about Jake’s father.
I loved seeing their relationship develop. One Jake-instigated invitation to the ranch turns into every weekend visits by Marina and Sydney. I loved seeing how easily Anderson handled little Sydney, and ached for his sadness at having missed so many years of Jake’s childhood. It isn’t long before both of them feel like they’ve become something close to a family unit. But when the inevitable kiss happens, Anderson panics because of the effect it has on him and backs away from continuing the visits. He had been burned once by a woman (Jake’s mother) and is wary of getting involved with another. Marina, whose own feelings had been growing, is hurt by his withdrawal, as it reminds her of the way Sydney’s father had behaved when she got pregnant. More trouble comes when Jake’s mom shows up unexpectedly and demands that Jake go back to Chicago with her. Anderson is furious, but unable to stop her.
As Anderson fights for joint custody, Marina comes to him with an idea to improve his chances. She loves both Anderson and Jake and is willing to do whatever it takes. Anderson is stunned and immediately willing, without looking too deeply at his reasons why. I loved Anderson’s attempt to make the wedding more special for her, and his surprise at her own request. I loved seeing how easily they slipped into married life, but that is threatened by Lexie’s return and her news. I ached for Marina and her fears. I loved seeing the matter of fact way that Anderson relieved her fears and expressed his feelings.
I loved Jake. It was great to see him go from an introverted video game addict to a more outgoing and typical eleven year old. You can tell that he loves his dad, but has trouble at first relating to him. His crush on Marina was sweet and I loved how he would nag Anderson into doing things related to her. The way he took to caring for Sydney was really awesome and his attempts to get her on a horse were fun.