The Ranger &
the Schoolmarm

The No-Nonsense Nanny
by Penny Richards
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1279, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-24279-4
The No-Nonsense Nanny is a pleasant rendering of a familiar storyline: an appealing but overwhelmed single father turns to a most unlikely woman to help him mind hearth and home. Despite remarkable odds, the ďnannyĒ successfully fills the surrogate parenting role, bringing to bear some amateur psychology to win over the kids. Then, she wins over Dad.

Amber Campion is the proverbial rich, bad girl returning home to straighten out her life after trying to escape from her past and establish her independence on the west coast. Her search for a job underscores her difficulties in adjusting.

Determined to make her way on her own, she rejects well-meaning offers of help from her stepfather. He has no idea she is so desperate that her phone service is disconnected and a job at the local Dollar Store looks like her only hope.

As those who have envied Amber in the past watch from the sidelines, many rooting for her downfall, a former admirer cannot resist helping her. In high-school, Cal Simmons left poetry and flowers at Amberís locker; then watched at a distance while she appeared to laugh with a friend at his attempts to get her attention.

Cal moved on to other crushes, eventually married and then divorced. Now the local sheriff, Cal is a nice guy struggling to combine maintaining law and order in a little town with being an effective parent to his deceased brotherís two preteen kids who have managed to alienate practically every available sitter in Louisiana.

Now, Amber and Cal need one another and rekindle a long-smoldering, mutual attraction.

Cal and Amber are well-matched magnets, but never rise above a sort of caricature of nice guy and bad girl gone good. The secondary characters, including debonair retired attorney, Dudley Milsap and Amberís stepfather, sometimes seem more interesting than Cal and Amber.

When faced with such a popular romance theme, the question is how well does Richards develop her version. Unfortunately, The No-Nonsense Nanny is a pleasant but unremarkable read, occasionally rather slow paced.

Amber and Cal appeared on the sidelines in Their Child, the story of Amberís stepsister, Kim McShane. The No-Nonsense Nanny may appeal to those who want to follow the McShane-Campion saga.

--Sue Klock

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