Home for the Holidays (Harlequin Super Romance #1599)

Home for the Holidays (Harlequin Super Romance #1599) - Sarah Mayberry Joe Lawson has hit a rough patch. His wife was killed two years ago, leaving him with a 10 year old daughter and a 13 year old son. He’s just uprooted his family from Sydney to be closer to his mother in Melbourne. Now the jerk next door is revving his motorcycle, threatening to wake up his kids. When he marches next door to give the guy a piece of his mind, he’s in for a bit of a surprise.Hannah Napier was working on her motorcycle in her mom’s garage, like she has on many occasions before, when some jerk comes in and scares the bejesus out of her, yelling at her to keep it down. That’s some way to meet your new neighbor!Despite this inauspicious beginning, and a number of other early clashes, these two find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other. Neither is in the market for romance. Joe’s still reeling from his wife’s death and is completely focused on his kids. Hannah’s recovering from her fiancé ditching her right before the wedding for her younger, prettier sister. Not only are they both walking wounded, but Hannah’s planning on fulfilling a lifelong dream to take off on a motorcycle tour of the country. They’re determined to keep it platonic, agreeing that the timing is all off for them. Life, of course, has other plans for them. All sorts of delicious unresolved sexual tension ensues, with some amusing false starts, one of which involves a makeout session interrupted by a car horn. Watching these two circle each other, declaring their intent to keep their hands to themselves, and ultimately fail, is a real joy. Mayberry did make some decisions I didn’t agree with. The meeting between Hannah and her fiancé was straight-up bizarre – why would he, and not her sister, be the one to tell her she was going to be an aunt? I didn’t see what that exchange added to the story. I also didn’t agree with how she handled the road trip, but I won’t spoil that.I found the dialog hokey at times, especially with the children. Ruby, the 10 year old, refers to Joe as Daddy and her late mother as Mommy, which I found odd for that age group. She spoke the precious and cutesy lines of a 6 year old, not a preteen. She did a better job with Ben, making him reserved and moody, like any self-respecting 13 year old boy, but even he delivered some highly uncharacteristic bits of high emotion that set my eyes a-rolling. If you don’t like kids in romance, this won’t be the book that changes your mind.These flaws, however, did not sufficiently take away from what was a highly satisfying roller coaster ride. Sexual tension abounds and a surprise twist at the end is a bit of a tearjerker. A solid read, start to finish.