Cowboys and Cradles

Home-Grown Husband
by Sharon Swan
(Harl. Amer. #928, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-16928-0
If author Sharon Swan keeps up the way she is going, I suggest “success” will be her middle name. Her second novel, Home-Grown Husband starts her Welcome to Harmony series in a most delightful way.

Serious, mysterious new neighbor Jordan Trask is intriguing to Tess Cameron, widow and mother of 10-year-old Ali. Ali is spending the summer with her grandparents, and Tess has been three years without a date. Her friend recommends she have an affair, but in the small Arizona town of Harmony, choices are limited. That is where Jordan comes in.

Jordan is an ex-Border Patrol agent trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. He was flat burnt-out and he resigned. Now he is in Harmony, renting a small house, trying to relax and get a handle on things. Neighbor Tess is one of those things he’d like to handle.

One would think it would be simple for two consenting adults to get together, have an affair and move on with their life. But this interaction is anything but simple. Tess doesn’t have the self-confidence to think she is attractive and Jordan is worried about rushing a small-town lady. The sexual build-up is wonderful. And the timing of an unexpected visit by daughter Ali and her grandmother is hilarious.

Needless to say, there are pitfalls around to keep these two apart. Tess’s parents split up, with Mom moving in with Tess, and Jordan offering Dad a place to stay. This puts things between Jordan and Tess on simmer, but they persevere. First, they have to convince mom and dad to reunite. And when they do, it is fun, engaging and a reader’s delight. When Jordan’s past threatens to interfere, the reality of life slips into their world. This is handled realistically and with intelligence.

I admired Swan’s ability to make two people experience a relationship, not just lustship, in her earlier book. She again accomplishes that feat with these two adults. Tess is multi-dimensional. She has made it on her own since the death of her husband and is looking for some adult relationships to round out her life. Falling in love was the last thing she expected. Jordan is a little more mysterious, hinting at his past, but not getting into details. And yet the details aren’t needed. Jordan is looking to make a better life for himself and is open to whatever happens. He accepts it without angst or lamenting his not so wonderful upbringing. How refreshing.

Daughter Ali is a “normal” 10-year-old, acting like a kid. Tess’s parents are an entertaining addition that adds to the story. The scene with mom and dad necking in the backseat at the drive-in while Tess and Jordan are frustrated in the front is comical and laugh provoking. I didn’t even know they still had drive-ins.

For an amusing and appealing romance, try visiting Harmony. Sharon Swan’s Home-Grown Husband should not disappoint.

--Shirley Lyons

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