Wendy Superlibrarian’s TBR Challenge: January Is “Quickie” Month!

Nanny_PlanAm 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.

12 thoughts on “Wendy Superlibrarian’s TBR Challenge: January Is “Quickie” Month!

  1. Yes, I have the same problem with Ms Anderson’s work; I like her voice and her characters, but I find too many white-person stereotypes about Indigenous people in her work. Good intentions, not often great in execution.

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      1. I think I cringe all the more because one of the things mentioned along with her writing a lot of romance around Native Americans, is that she lives (lived?) near a reservation and does deep research.

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        1. Um, that’s not “deep”: that’s basic Googling for terminology, or checking in with someone in the community, or an Indigenous uni prof. And, I would add that it should have been picked up in the editing. Sorry! *rant over*

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        2. *apparently, rant not over* So often, when I read romance, I think all the author has to do, to start, even for the sake of originality, is “flip” that convention: make your Lakota heroine the billionaire, make your hero the strapped one trying to get his app-thing funded… I think Angelina M. Lopez does this and it serves her well. There may be other flaws with her romances, but not what I found in Anderson.

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          1. Ms Anderson relies far too much on the worst stereotypes plaguing Indigenous communities in the USA: the drinking, the poverty, the parental neglect, etc. when giving her Indigenous protagonists either a past or a goal, and that, I’m afraid, is lazy.

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  2. I just don’t understand why no one catches these things in editing. Even my review editor at another site besides my own calls me out when I mess up. It does sound like a great premise without those things. Looking forward to having you with us this year. I hope to do better than last year!

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    1. Exactly, editing this would have been easy, even without changing the premise, which was actually a lot of fun. Thank you for the welcoming words! I look forward to everyone’s reviews!

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  3. I read this the same year it was released (2015 IIRC) and loved it. Simply loved it. But hindsight being what it is…yeah, it definitely IS problematic. 2015 doesn’t seem that long ago – and yet, it was (Dear Lord…) seven years ago – which given events post-2016 feels like a different planet in some respects.. No wonder I’m tired all the time?

    Anyway, I hope as readers (and authors) we open ourselves to change, grow, and strive to do better – which really, isn’t too much to ask and the world would be a better place if we could all walk that walk.

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    1. I think you were right in loving it, the leads are terrific and their chemistry is strong and believable. Hopefully, editors can do better too and advise their authors b/c it wouldn’t have taken too much to make this a less “problematic” book. I’d still read more Anderson: she has the writing chops to do this way better!

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