Saturday, October 11, 2014

All a Woman Wants - Patricia Rice (Signet - June 2001)

All he wants... Lachlan MacTavish. restless and ambitious, is on the run...and needs a nanny fast. He's kidnapped his sister's small children to save them from neglect and abuse. And now Mac is desperate to find a place to hide--and someone to look after his mischievous charges.

All she wants...Beatrice Cavendish, sheltered and unschooled, is helpless to make sense of the near-bankrupt estate she inherited from her father. Between managing farmhands, tenants, and finances, Bea is desperate for a man to teach her all he knows.

Mac has no time for frilly ladies. And Bea has no use for demanding men. When Mac arrives like a whirlwind on Bea's doorstep, offering to strike a deal, Bea is tempted to refuse. She would be a fool to accept this ill-tempered man into her home. But as her heart quickens with longing, Beatrice knows she would be a bigger fool not to. Because having Mac in her life offers more than she can imagine: two playful children who steal her heart and an irresistible man who awakens her desires...

Good book. Lachlan MacTavish, or "Mac", is an American businessman who has come to England to take delivery of his new clipper ship and check up on his sister. He arrives at her home to discover that she is dead and her two children are being neglected and abused. So he kidnaps them and desperately starts looking for a nanny and somewhere to hide until his ship is ready to sail. This leads him to Beatrice's estate, where he's dismayed to find out that the nanny has passed away.

Bea has spent the last several months trying to keep her estate going, after the death of her father. Her father had been overprotective of her, with very old-fashioned ideas of a woman's place. Therefore, she had very little education and no exposure to how to deal with the needs of the estate. She is desperate to find someone who can teach her what she needs to know. She had also never been anywhere outside of the village where they lived.

When Mac arrives she is somewhat overwhelmed by him. He is loud, forceful and large. But she quickly figures out that they could be helpful to each other. She offers to give him a place to stay with the children if he will teach her what she needs to know. This is where the fun begins. Bea doesn't have a lot of confidence in herself, but she knows she's smart enough to learn if someone will just teach her. She is tired of the way everyone keeps telling her just to find a husband and let him take care of it for her. She is determined to be able to do it herself and learns quickly how to stand up to Mac when he starts to ignore her. There are some really wonderful interactions between them as they learn to work together.

Mac is partly frustrated and partly intrigued by Bea. He's desperate to hide the kids from their father and grandfather until he can get them out of the country, so he doesn't feel like he has time to teach Bea what she needs to know. When he does start to show her how things should be done, she argues with him every step of the way. He also finds her incredibly beautiful, though she doesn't believe him, He is impressed by how well she handles the children.

There is also an attraction between them that gets stronger each day. Mac tries to ignore it, as he won't be staying in England and is too honorable to lead her on. Bea isn't sure what she's feeling about Mac at the beginning, but soon figures it out. While those feelings are wonderful, they also scare her because so many things are changing. When circumstances cause them to marry, Bea's nervousness creates some stress between them, but Mac finds the patience to deal with her fears. I loved seeing how Mac's support of her helped Bea overcome so many of her fears. Mac also develops more empathy for those around him thanks to Bea's influence. Both of them have their own stubborn views that they have to learn to compromise on before they can get the future they both want.

The taking of the children and Mac's determination to protect them was well done. I enjoyed seeing him try to cope with it all. I loved the how Bea's love and care for the village and its people came back to help her when those same people helped protect the children. I loved the ending, with Bea really stepping out of her comfort zone on behalf of Mac and the children, and Mac realizing just how vital Bea is to his happiness.

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