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Over His Head    by Carolyn McSparren order for
Over His Head
by Carolyn McSparren
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton

This romance stands out because of its strong plot. Tim Wainwright moves into his grandparents' old home in Williamston, Tennessee (population 123) with his three dysfunctional children, and gets platonically involved with a veterinarian technician, Nancy Mayfield, who also happens to be the caretaker of a potbelly pig. The pig occasionally goes home to Tim's house, where said pig used to live with his owners (who now live in an apartment across town).

Nancy, now divorced, remembers being a very bad stepmother in her marriage. While attracted to Tim, she's not convinced she wants to mother his three somewhat scary children. The subplot that I found special for a romance of this type had to do with the oldest son, Jason, who is persuaded to join a lacrosse team. Not to give anything away, it is Jason's involvement with this team and the coach that made a very intriguing subplot, albeit almost creepy, and I couldn't wait to find out how it panned out.

Tim and Nancy's slow dance around each other is just that - slow. But it's realistic. And with his baggage (three disturbed kids and the memory of his murdered wife), their relationship seems doomed from the start. Nancy feels he's the reason the kids are the way they are, but Tim is trying to protect them, hence their move to the small town where he grew up. It was in Chicago that his wife Solange was murdered, and now he's trying to make it up to the kids by taking them to live in a safe environment, not realizing that there really is no such thing as safe, anywhere, as he will find out soon enough.

Over His Head kept me on edge for a good part of the story. McSparren has a unique way of creating animal characters that are endearing in their own right. The pig, Lancelot, is a riot, and scenes in which he interacts with Nancy's two cats add to the story. The children's characterizations are also right-on, each of them having problems due to the tragic loss of their mother. This book shows how romances have evolved.

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