Am going to do my darndest to stick with Wendy’s TBR Challenge this third year of our pandemic. Grateful to Wendy for hosting and, eons ago, launching me on a love of category romance. I am going to use the challenge to get through some of my VAST category romance TBR. If you like, you can check out the other great participating blogs and Wendy’s treasure-trove of reviews at her blog, linked here.
As Wendy quipped, this month’s theme is “quickie,” which I took to mean category-length romance (yay to my category romance reading plans!) rather than, um, a fast-paced amorous encounter. What I pulled from the TBR was one Wendy herself lauded…which is how it ended up in my TBR, Sarah M. Anderson’s The Nanny Plan. I’d read Anderson’s Lawyers in Love series and enjoyed it and this one had a cute baby on the cover, so I was pretty much a goner from its first appearance on Wendy’s blog.The Nanny Plan has a great premise, beautifully executed in the opening scene. “Boy Billionaire” Nate Longmire meets social work grad student Trish Hunter at a talk he gives at San Francisco State U. He’s handsome and adorably awkward. When Trish’s turn arrives during the Q&A, she drags along a $10 000 dollar giant cheque, proof of what she can accomplish for her charity providing school supplies to Lakota children, One World, One Child. Her question is simple: will he donate, given how generous he’s been to charities? A cup of coffee and check-her-him-out attraction later and he agrees. Weeks later, when Trish shows up to “collect” on Nate’s promised donation, she finds Nate beset, harried, and helpless as “father” to his recently-deceased brother and sister-in-law’s daughter. She’s six months old; her name is Jane and she’s raising bloody murder of the baby-lung variety. Trish wants that money for her Lakota kids and Nate desperately needs help with Jane: a deal is struck and Trish moves in as Jane’s temporary nanny. Hence, the plan…as we know, best-laid plans go astray, especially in romance novels.
Summarized as I have above, it certainly sounds like Trish is carrot-stick coerced into being Jane’s nanny. But Anderson handles this well: firstly, she establishes two likeable protagonists. Nate is unassuming, dubiously confident about his attraction, humble, and funny. Trish, in turn, is equally funny, determined to win for her “kids,” beautiful (of course!), and smart. She also brought up her nine? siblings and has more experience with babies than many a nanny; she recognizes Nate’s bind and is sympathetic that he’s still mourning his brother and sister-in-law. He needs her, in a sense, more than she, him and Trish is, if nothing else, a “softie” when it comes to helping others, even billionaires. (You’d think a tech-boy-billionaire could Google a few things about babies and have an army of competent nannies ready to take the job on, but nope.)
So, given how much I liked these two, I overlooked many opportunities for a good eye-roll. The romance is wonderful when these two are in the room, bantering, or even gently conversing. They’re compatible, share a sense of humour, and, at core, are caring, humble people. When we’re in their heads, however, it’s not great: maybe Nate’s better off, because he worries about the ethics of sleeping with Trish and makes a genuine effort to wait to ask her on a date after their month-nanny-plan is done; Trish, on the other hand, with a childhood of Lakota “rez” (Anderson’s word, not mine) poverty, once too often thinks about how she’s not in Nate’s category because she’s “just a poor Indian woman.” I cringed at “Indian”, who uses that term anymore? It’s degrading and why should that put her out of Nate’s league anyway? I wish that aspect of the romance had died a thousand deaths. Sadly, there’s also OW and Bad Mother syndrome too: in Nate’s case, burned by evil, money-grubby-grabby, cheating “other woman”; and, in Trish’s case, negligent promiscuous mother with too many babies from too many men, associated with an Indigenous woman, not a good romance look. Not quite as cringe-worthy distasteful as references to being “a poor Indian woman”, but holding steady at number 2. On Miss Austen’s scale, The Nanny Plan is “almost pretty,” Northanger Abbey.