TBR Challenge Theme “Animals” and Marion Lennox’s MISTY AND THE SINGLE DAD

Misty_Single_DadMeh, I wish I could have loved this. Lennox writes good banter, employs light, wry humour, usually has a wonderfully atmospheric setting and characters who are fundamentally good, but not flat. Certainly Misty has those elements, but there was a problem in the execution that, sadly, coming in the second half, left yours truly with reader-disappointment. First, to the back-cover blurb:

Teacher Misty Lawrence has lived her whole life in Banksia Bay, cherishing a secret list of faraway dreams. Just as she’s finally about to take flight, Nicholas Holt; tall, dark and deliciously bronzed turns up in her classroom with his little son Bailey and an injured stray spaniel in tow.

Misty soon falls head over heels for all three but her scrapbook of wishes keeps calling. Misty must decide: follow her dreams, or her heart? Because a girl can’t have it all or can she?

I do confess I chose Misty and the Single Dad out of the TBR because the cover screamed Wendy’s “animals” theme and it’s true “Ketchup”, the dog pictured, brings these two together and offers cute gamboling-dog scenes. He’s joined by another pooch, “Took,” and the two provide even more of those. So: animals, favourite category romance author, school-marm heroine, handsome single dad, and adorable plot moppet. What could go wrong?

Turns out, quite a bit, though Misty and single dad don’t start out this way. I was charmed and amused by everyone’s sharp and/or cute dialogue, even in woof-form. Who can resist this opening? Misty sees Nick standing at her classroom door with Bailey:

…a Greek God was standing at her classroom door. She looked and looked again. Adonis. God of Desire and Manly Good Looks. Definitely. Son-of-Adonis didn’t look as if he agreed. He looked terrified.

This is what Lennox did well in the first half: spare, funny, sharp. With a few sentences, we learn about the characters, their attraction, and a potential obstacle in the little boy’s “fear”. At the same time, it’s light, it’s promising, it’s romance: things will work out.

And Lennox delivered…for the most part. Misty and Nick are loveably antagonistic until they’re not. And Bailey is terrified until he’s adorably cheeky. Great stuff.

Unfortunately, Nick and Bailey’s backstory is melodramatically implausible. Which I can forgive if the romance holds up. It did…until it didn’t. Something goes off in the second half: while Nick and Misty build to a nice growth of feelings and attraction, suddenly, they were cornily in love in a reader-whiplash kind of way: where did that come from? That development was usurped by exposition, ye-old-tell-don’t-show. Then, a bad mother appears and my eyes rolled. Subsequently, Misty does something out-of-character, which I guess was the point of her “scrapbook of wishes”, but it didn’t make sense if she loves Nick and Bailey and the pooches as much as she claims she does. I have to admit Nick’s grand gesture was pretty cool, but overall, not one of Lennox’s best.

14 thoughts on “TBR Challenge Theme “Animals” and Marion Lennox’s MISTY AND THE SINGLE DAD

  1. We were sharing a brain this month – I read the first book in this series and unfortunately our success rate was about the same ☹. Lennox nailed the light rom-com feel, and I loved the dog, but the hero rubbed me the wrong way from the jump and I just never fully got over that.

    I’ve got one more in this series in my TBR and it might be Misty and Nick? Need to double-check…

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    1. Ha, that is a HOOT! Or a woof! Either way…I “think” (remember?) this being lauded to high heaven on some blog (maybe “Dear Author?) and that’s why it’s in the TBR.

      LOL, I thought, being the nitpicky read in order nutbar that I am, that I would start with the first, but I didn’t seem to have it anywhere…! I do have the 3rd, but I’m leery now.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hate that “temporary personality transplant to satisfy the needs of a horrible, terrible, no-good bleak moment” thing that happens so often in reasonably good romance novels.

    I wonder often how long the insistence in the genre that there *must* absolutely be a third act separation will last; seems to me to be true to genre romance origins but a hundred years later, ye gods, we should have dispensed with it already.

    (And let us not get started on the terrible evil mothers of genre romance)

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    1. Take one gentle, loving schoolmarm, give her a Hyde to Jekyl moment…and all I could think was “where’s the dog?”

      I don’t know, honestly, I’m glad I’m on Wendy’s TBR challenge, otherwise I’d never read another romance novel. I want to read things with pith and intellect and it’s a rare rare instance where romance delivers.

      As for Evil Mother Syndrome giving angst to the story, it’s up there with the OW as a nope for me.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Hello my dear, thank you so much for your kind words. All is relatively well: feeling my age and just trying to keep up with everything, work, mama-care, etc. I think of you too and hope to be back “one of these days”.

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  3. Miss Bates, I am commenting here on your latest post merely to say hello and that I was thinking of you because I am headed to Stratford this evening (for Richard III) for the first time since 2019. I sought you out on Twitter to find that you’re not there anymore (I haven’t been there much in the past couple of years, so I missed your departure), and not being able to find an email address for you, I decided to leave a random comment! So hello! I am off for a murderous evening, and thinking of you, haha! I hope you are well.

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    1. Jenny!!!! I’ve decided to give up screens (“nothing good ever came of a square” Black Elk), hence the no-Twitter presence and spotty-at-best blogging…work is overwhelming as are family obligations. But I’m so glad to hear from you!

      Richard III is TERRIFIC. I saw it with colleagues (agog) and students (asleep). I wasn’t sure about Feore, but he’s great, though our favorite was Mag Meg (I want to be her, or at least have her hair) and the costuming is the best I’ve seen at a Strat production. It just felt so good to be back in live theatre.

      I can always be reached at missbatesreadsromance at gmail dot com

      I hope you enjoy the show and when next I’m in Stratford, maybe you’ll be there too!

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    1. It had, I miss everyone and hope you’re well, just work and keeping up with all my responsibilities is taking me longer than it used to. Still enjoying books, but not much energy to blog about them.

      Liked by 1 person

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