Sunday, March 2, 2014

Second Chance Family - Leigh Duncan (HAR #1488 - Feb 2014)

Series: Fatherhood

An Instant Family?

Coaching Little League in a small Florida town is a world away from Travis Oak's dream of being a professional pitcher. But now the phys ed teacher faces his greatest challenge: keeping a ten-year-old boy from being expelled. He's got the perfect solution…until he runs up against a petite, irresistible blonde.

After her major league husband's betrayal, Courtney Smith wants nothing to do with bad boys…or baseball. But her son thinks Travis is some kind of hero, and she has to admit -- it's hard to resist Cocoa Village's most gorgeous coach. But will her secret keep Travis from having a family to call his own?

I loved this book.  Courtney has moved to town with her two kids to start a new life.  Her son is having a hard time with the move and has been getting into fights.  After his last fight she is given a choice of either signing him up to play baseball or having him expelled.  She doesn't want him playing baseball but she's out of options.  Travis is the Little League coach and a former ball player himself.  He has plans of his own that don't include a family, but he has a hard time staying away from this one.

I liked Courtney a lot. She is the kind of mother that puts her kids needs before her own and is determined to do what is best for them.  After the death of her ball player husband she has moved to a new town to start fresh.  Her husband had been an excellent player but a terrible husband and father.  At the time of his death he was deeply in debt and had been guilty of many infidelities.  Courtney blamed much of it on the baseball lifestyle as none of the management or other players had done anything to help but had only covered it up.  She doesn't want Josh playing the game but has no choice if she wants him to stay in school.  Finding out that the coach is a former player himself makes it hard for her to trust him.  If Josh has to play, she is determined to keep a very close eye on Travis.  That isn't too hard for her because he is very easy on the eyes.  She also discovers that she is attracted to him but when she finds out he is trying to get a professional coaching job she is determined to keep her distance.  As the weeks of the season go on she realizes that Travis is nothing like the other players she has known and is very impressed with the way he handles the boys on his team.  The attraction to Travis is mutual and they get closer as Travis spends more and more time with them.  But she has never told him who her husband was and she is afraid of what his reaction will be when he finds out.  

Travis was an excellent minor league pitcher until he got hurt.  Now he spends his time as a PE teacher and coach while applying for jobs as a professional coach.  He is aware of all the good that being part of a sports team can do for a troubled kid and offers a spot on his team to Josh.  He doesn't understand Courtney's dislike of the game but manages to talk her into giving him a chance to work with Josh.  He is really interested in her, but a family is not in his plans for the future if he wants to get back into baseball.  In spite of his wariness he can't stay away from Courtney and her family.  I loved seeing him get more involved with them, right down to caring for the baby.  One of the things that impressed me most about Travis was the way he emphasized how important school is.  He is also the type of coach that encourages the kids and doesn't say mean things to them.  He is a fantastic role model and Josh's hero worship is completely understandable.  Travis falls for Courtney and wonders what will happen if he gets the coaching job he has applied for.  When he finds out Courtney's secret he's hurt that she didn't tell him and has a bit of trouble believing that she could actually feel anything for him when her life had been so different.  I loved seeing the way that his goals and dreams changed and found the ending to be really moving.

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