Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Say No To Joe? - Lori Foster (Zebra - Aug 2003)

Series: Winstons/Visitation NC (Book 4)


Joe Winston has a routine with women: he exists; they swoon; roll credits. With his smoldering looks, macho style, and irrepressible charm, Joe can have any woman--except the one he really wants. Secretly, Luna Clark may lust after Joe, but she's made it clear that she's too smart to fall for him. He can just keep holding his breath, thank you very much. But now, Luna's inherited two kids who need more than she alone can give in a small town that seems hell-bent on driving them away. She needs someone to help out...someone who can't be intimidated...someone just like Joe. Becoming an instant family wasn't exactly what Joe had in mind, but hey, it's a start, and you can't blame a guy for trying every angle.

After all, where there's a Joe, there's a way...straight into a woman's heart.

This was a very fun book. Joe is the typical alpha male, appealing to women, protective when necessary, and anti-commitment. But his tough guy image is a little tarnished at the beginning of the book as he is recovering from being pretty badly beaten. When Luna shows up at his place to ask for his help she finds him being molested by a couple of women, and has no problem running them off.

Luna has been made guardian of two children in a small town that is making a lot of trouble for the kids. She knows that Joe is the perfect person to help her protect the kids until she can get things settled. She's attracted to Joe, but knows better than to get involved with him. He's not into commitment and she doesn't want her heart broken. Joe is glad to help Luna out. He lets her know straight out that he's also going to use the time to try to get her into bed with him. 

Luna has never spent any real time around kids, but she is determined to give Willow and Austin all the love and stability that they need. I loved seeing how nervous she was, but her instincts were good and she seemed to know pretty well what they needed. Her own family life had not been all that great, and it gives her great insight into how the kids feel. She is also determined to resist the womanizing Joe, but soon sees a different side to him. I loved seeing her stand up to him when she thought it was important, but pay attention when she knew he was looking out for them. I loved seeing her attitude toward him soften as he got more involved with the kids.

Joe has never had to work for a woman's attention before he met Luna. He wants her bad, but she isn't cooperating at all. He's more than happy to help her out with the kids because it gives him the chance to try to talk her into his bed. He doesn't expect to find himself settling in to domesticity and liking it. I loved seeing how good he was with the kids. He has just the right touch with Austin to keep him out of trouble. He was also incredibly sweet with the teenage Willow - I loved his reaction to the errand she asked him to run. As much as he had been resisting the idea of ever settling down, it was so much fun to see him take to family life.

There were some really fun things that happened throughout the book. It was always great to see Joe dealing with any kind of domestic issue. I loved watching him with the ever curious and very talkative Austin. He was surprised by how much he enjoyed what he did and that the thought of making things permanent with Luna didn't send him running scared. I also loved seeing Luna as she resisted Joe's advances, even though she wanted him. She had a couple great scenes where she was dealing with the women who were constantly after him.

The two kids in the book were wonderful. They had had it really rough since their mother died and were very wary of Luna, who was the most recent in a long line of guardians. Their actions seemed perfectly logical for their ages and what had been happening to them. My heart broke for them as they were so cautious about accepting that Luna was there to stay.

There were a couple of mysteries that went throughout the book. There was the question of who was causing the "accidents" that were happening to the kids, and why it was happening. The who was pretty obvious, but the why was something of a surprise. There was also the identity of who was following Joe and why, and was it just one person or were there more. Joe's protectiveness toward his new family sometimes came in conflict with what he wanted to do to get to the bottom of it. Both mysteries got solved at once with a good amount of action and some pretty funny encounters.

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