Harlequin/August 7, 2012
Ex-navy SEAL Tom Cartwright is struggling to return to civilian life. His little niece is his only ray of sunshine and he agrees to be the "show" in her school show-and-tell. Teacher Caitlin Rose knows all about past disappointments—once, she danced in the spotlight but now she shows others how to. She's learned the hard way to rely only on herself. Yet as soon as Tom looks at her with those big brown eyes, she's done for .
Can Caitlin crack the walls around this soldier's battle-worn heart?
Wendy for once again hosting the challenge.
The suggested theme for January is short stories or novellas. Since I have an abundance of Harlequin romances on my TBR pile, that's where I searched out and found one of Ms. Lane's contemporary romances.
It's because of a little girl, Gabby, that Caitlin and Tom meet. Gabby is Tom's niece and when Tom first sees Gabby's teacher Miss Caitlin Rose, he has a hard time keeping his eyes off of her. For Caitlin, it's a similar reaction but she has a history with military men and it's not a good one.
The romance moves along quickly, with Caitlin and Tom acting on their mutual attraction. Caitlin and Tom each have difficulties in their past to overcome. Tom is learning to accept that he will never go out in the field again but will instead teach recruits. He doesn't feel like he has anything long-term to offer to a woman. Caitlin thinks she can't trust a man with a military background. Neither Caitlin or Tom showed much conflict or resistance when it came to overcoming their pasts. I would have liked to see more conflict and resistance to dating each other since much emphasis was place on these two reasons.
Tom dated Caitlin, slept with her but was not willing to listen to her when she tried to sympathize with him about his loses. It felt very unreasonable of Tom to brush Caitlin off so quickly, demeaning to a certain extent. He became angry and scared Caitlin with his reaction to her trying to simply talk to him about his losses. I didn't like this side of Tom and thought he overreacted. Turned me off the hero.
There are some words and terms that sounded a bit off. Since the author lives in New Zealand, perhaps the odd words and phrases are more specific to that region and why I'm not familiar with them. Nothing really major but the hero is a U.S. Navy SEAL and it did cause me to pause a few times.