The Real Father

The Redemption of Matthew Quinn
by Kathleen O’Brien
(Harl Super. #1086, $5.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-71086-0
I am recommending this book with a few caveats. 1) From the title, you can tell this is a tale of a man who needs (or thinks he needs) forgiveness or saving. It is, so be prepared to accept that the man in question is a little dense and unforgiving of himself. 2) It is a part of the Four Seasons in Firefly Glen series. There are plenty of references to people and things that you would only have been introduced to if you had read the other books. This is somewhat of a distraction, but survivable. And 3) the woman who does the saving of Matthew is quirky, and she doesn’t apologize for that. This leads to several situations that can only happen with a quirky heroine.

If you can accept those three things, I think you will enjoy The Redemption of Matthew Quinn as much as I did.

Matthew Quinn has just been paroled from prison after being convicted of a white-collar crime for which he claims to be innocent. He was an investment counselor and partner in a firm. His partner embezzled millions of dollars, leaving their customers penniless and Matthew holding the bag. Matthew feels guilt that he didn’t see it coming and because he was living the high life while involved in the business of investments. Now he is numb, and not certain he deserves a second chance, nor that he can ever truly be happy again.

He is on his way to Florida, where his sister and her husband have offered him a job managing one of their restaurants. Matthew is less than enthusiastic about taking it. He stops off in Firefly Glen, NY, a town he researched while in prison. From what he learned, it looks homey, civilized and safe from the hustle and bustle of his old life in New York City. While in the café, he spies a sheet on the bulletin board advertising for a handyman. In calligraphy, it appears to have been written by an elderly woman. Matthew decides to apply for the job, for the summer.

Upon his arrival at the address on the sheet, he finds a huge Italian-style villa called Summer House, which looks like it has been in disrepair for years. Ready to resign before being hired due to the obvious amount of expertise needed, he is confronted by Natalie Granville.

Natalie is not at her best. This just happens to be her almost wedding day. She was engaged to a rich young man she had known from birth and she cancelled it with just a few weeks to spare. She wasn’t in love with Bart, she just needed his money to repair her home. She decided she wanted more. Today, however, her wedding dress was delivered. She had been indulging in a little Scotch to get her through the day and there it was. Now she is hanging off her porch, drunk, and singing to the statue wearing her dress and veil. (Did I mention the heroine was quirky?)

Matthew is stunned. He is also hired despite his misgivings. He moves into the pool house and their summer begins. Natalie’s zest for living and positive nature overwhelms Matthew. Matthew’s looks and transparent feelings of angst attract Natalie. They spark, yet are wary. Matthew makes sure Natalie knows of his past, as he doesn’t plan on lying to anyone. Natalie convinces Matthew to help her rebuild her house and take the summer to rediscover what can be good in life. The contrasts between them are glaring, but Matthew eats up the feelings of freshness that he lacked when in prison. They become friends while fighting the feelings of attraction, while they cruise towards their happy ending.

I totally enjoyed both characters. Matthew’s struggles seemed real, as one would imagine anyone who had just spent three years in prison would feel. Yet, he is sensible, understanding that life goes on and so should he. He is honorable, despite all that had happened, and that trait alone endeared him to me.

Natalie is fun, enjoying life with a multitude of hidden strengths that she showed to people when she was ready. Although scatterbrained on the surface, she was actually astute and a shrewd businesswoman. She owns and operates her own nursery business.

One example of her paradoxical self is that everyone in the town refers to her as naïve and crazy for not marrying her millionaire when it is clear she could use the money. Yet, on the eve of the birth of one prominent citizen’s baby, she gathers her small workforce and they work all night preparing flowers for the orders expected to pour in. By the time the birth occurs, and the phone starts ringing, she is ready to deliver. She makes a killing on that one birth because she knows and understands her customers. Quirky maybe, but smart too!

Enjoy The Redemption of Matthew Quinn in the style it is intended, and you will be smiling at the end.

--Shirley Lyons

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