Winning the Right Brother
by Abigail Storm
(Silh. Spec. Ed #2046, $4.99, PG)  ISBN  978-0373-65528-1
****
Abigail Storm has written an engaging story that grabs at you and doesn’t let go. There are a few issues that could have been exploited but her handling of them kept the story moving and made it believable for the reader. Winning the Right Brother has a bit of sentimentality but did not go aboard.

Holly Stanton is a single mom who has always had to fend for herself, having parents who sent her away when she became pregnant soon after high school and a boyfriend who clearly wanted his cake but not the responsibility that came with that. Holly found a way to keep her baby, get a good job, work her way through school and still come out on the positive side. Her son is now 15 years old and they are back in her hometown in northeast Ohio. Holly has always been accused of being the “good girl” and when she took a chance on not being good, it all backfired. Since then, she has walked the straight and narrow, owning the home she inherited, being a good CPA and trying very hard to be both mother and father to her son.

Alex McKenna, on the other hand, was always seen as the bad boy. He was a rebel and the only thing that grounded him was football. He ended up in college and eventually as a pro. Now he too is back in the old hometown as the well respected high school football coach. Being cute and seemingly swamped with women has not hurt his popularity. The only issues that Alex dealt with growing up had to do with his stepfamily, who never understood him. His stepbrother Brian, who was a few years older, was the golden boy, yet he is the one who dumped Holly when she needed him most. To Holly, Alex was a pain, always throwing insults her way. Yet she was also attracted to him physically. In fact, Alex liked Holly, but never felt he could compete with Brian, so he tried to turn her against him; an action Holly rejected time and again. 

Now they have to confront each other as adults and neither is quite sure how to handle it. Holly’s son Will is their link. He is on the football team as a freshman back-up quarterback. Will adores his new coach and wants Holly to like him too. He is surprised at the fact that they once knew each other, but being an astute teenager, he sees early on that there is something brewing between his mom and his coach. When Will and Holly’s house burns down due to an electrical short, Alex invites them to move into his big farm house until they can get their bearings. It is no surprise what happens from that point on.

On the surface, this coincidence could have been the downfall to the story. But the author walks us through their romance with an aura of confidence that keeps the tale from faltering. Holly is sensible and it is easy to understand how the loss of her house throws her system for a loop. Alex is a gentleman despite his growing feelings of lust. Holly also has to deal with her old feelings and this almost makes her throw away a chance for happiness. Her son’s character acts a bit older than 15, yet it is believable because of the way Holly has always interacted with him, often treating him as more mature due to the single mother factor. 

The key to the story is the relationship between Alex and Holly. Once they get over some juvenile fighting when they first meet again, they quickly act like adults and let their friendship grow into love. They were fun to watch and the sexual tension was clearly there.

Winning the Right Brother is a debut for this author and one that makes me want to keep an eye out for more of her stories. You won’t go wrong with this one. 

--Shirley Lyons


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