In the four years since Monica Brooks moved to Cedar Key, she's found a home, a husband, and now a business to love. Taking over her mother's bustling knitting shop is a welcome challenge, but Monica's exciting plans are waylaid by unexpected news. Her husband's ex-wife has been deemed an unfit mother, and custody of their eight-year-old daughter, Clarissa, is to be transferred to Adam.
Going straight from honeymoon to motherhood--especially when she's unsure she wants children--leaves the normally even-keeled Monica doubting herself at every turn. Yet in a place like Cedar Key, nobody goes it alone. With help from friends and relatives, Monica, Clarissa, and Adam begin to forge a close-knit family of their own--one that will need to be strong enough to withstand all the surprises set to unravel. . .
Praise for Spinning Forward
"Poignant, absorbing, humorous. . .a debut that tugs at the heart." --Sophia Nash, author of A Dangerous Beauty
"Captures the essence of what often lies in each of our hearts. Don't miss it!" --J.L. Miles, author of Cold Rock River
"Like a lazy island summer. . .a story of secrets and loss, friendship and recovery, and rediscovered love." --Laura Castoro, author of Love on the Line
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By TERRI DuLONG
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Terri DuLong
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhen I passed the phone to Adam, I had no idea that the caller's information would force me to question my insecurity on motherhood. Adam and I had only been married for six months. Rather than focusing on starting a family, my time and energy had been directed toward purchasing my mother's yarn shop, Spinning Forward. I was still a new bride, for goodness sake, so being a mom was the last thing on my mind. "It's for you," I said, passing the telephone across the breakfast table while I continued to nibble on toast and update my to-do list.
"Yes, this is Adam Brooks," I heard my husband say. While silence filled our kitchen it occurred to me that perhaps I should apply for a small business loan. Sure, my mother had basically passed the yarn shop over to me before she left for Paris with Noah, but I knew that I wanted to be the official proprietor of the business I'd come to love. My mother was thrilled that my desire for ownership would keep what she worked at so hard in the family. And the week before she was to leave, we met with an attorney to sign the documents that would transfer Spinning Forward from Sydney Webster to Monica Brooks. My mother would only accept a minimal amount of money to make the transaction legal. Revenue from sales would pay the monthly lease and overhead, and continue the small salary of Aunt Dora. I hoped that even without some of the special services my mother offered, I'd keep Spinning Forward the success it had been for over three years. A bank loan would help to make that happen.
My attention reverted to the one-sided phone call.
"She what?" Adam said in a tone he used when he was upset.
I glanced up as my husband pushed his chair away from the table and began pacing around our kitchen. Apparently this wasn't a telemarketer call, as I had thought.
"Well, where is she now?" he questioned.
Anger was being replaced by concern. His brow furrowed as he raked his hand through sandy-colored hair, and I considered him the sexiest and most attractive man I'd known.
"Yes, yes, I understand that. But you have to understand that I have a job and will have to make arrangements. The soonest I could be up there would be Monday."
Up there? Where? All of a sudden it dawned on me what this phone call was about. Adam's daughter, Clarissa, was now eight years old and lived with his ex, Carrie Sue, in some godforsaken town in Georgia.
Adam reached for paper and a pen from the counter drawer. "Yes, go ahead," he said and began jotting down information. "Okay. I need some time to make arrangements. I'll call you back tomorrow."
Placing the phone on the table, he blew out a deep breath before sitting down across from me. "We need to talk."
Jumping up to grab the coffeepot, I refilled our cups. When a crisis happens, I'm one of those people who functions better while keeping busy.
Rejoining him at the table, it was my turn to exhale loudly. "Okay. What's up?"
"Carrie Sue was in an automobile accident the other night. She's in the hospital. No major injuries, but Carrie Sue and the driver were both drunk."
"My God, was Clarissa with her?"
"No, it's worse. Carrie Sue left her alone at the condo to go out drinking with her girlfriends. When the accident happened, she had to tell the authorities her eight-year-old daughter was alone at home. Social services got involved. That's who that was on the telephone." Adam began fiddling with the spoon on the table and shook his head. "Clarissa is in a temporary foster home. The woman on the phone said it's highly unlikely that Carrie Sue will retain custody of her. There's an emergency hearing next week and I have to be there."
Thoughts were swirling in my head. I'd only met Carrie Sue once. The summer that Adam and I began dating, we drove up to Georgia together to bring Clarissa Jo to Cedar Key for their annual month-long visit. Meeting Carrie Sue once had been quite enough. She came from a wealthy family that disowned her the moment she'd married Adam. Blond, beautiful, and bitchy, Carrie Sue had always enjoyed tipping her wrist a little too often with whatever alcoholic liquid appealed to her at the moment. Her drinking problem had contributed to the breakup of their marriage. I knew that Adam had attempted to get custody of his daughter and had been devastated when the judge ruled in favor of the mother, leaving Adam with only every-other-weekend visitation. This was compounded by the fact that two years ago, with an economy in tatters, the school in Georgia had been forced to let him go. Faced with hefty support payments, in addition to being responsible for his daughter's medical insurance, Adam had felt fortunate to be offered a teaching position in his home town of Cedar Key, Florida.
"And so ... all of this means what?" I asked, too stupid or too stubborn to understand what was coming next.
"It means I have to go to Georgia and be there for the hearing. I've been paying support for Clarissa Jo these past four years, and I'm her legal guardian."
"Oh," was all I could manage to say.
Adam reached across the table for my hand and gave it a squeeze. "I know. This certainly came out of the blue. Having Clarissa with us full-time will be very different, but I think we'll manage."
We had discussed children when we began dating, and while we didn't say we'd never have any-we didn't agree that we would, either. Not wanting to sound like the witch from Hansel and Gretel, I let out a deep breath, squeezing Adam's hand in return. "Of course we will," I said, sounding much braver than I felt. "Of course we'll manage and everything will be fine."
My husband nodded and then shook his head. "Christ, Monica, what a loser Carrie Sue is. I'm just grateful nothing happened to Clarissa Jo alone in that apartment."
Scary news events flashed through my mind concerning children either left alone or abducted. Although I'd always felt horrible when I heard about these things, I certainly had never considered them from a parent's point of view.
"Jesus," he said, glancing at his watch. "I've got to get moving. Class starts in fifteen minutes."
Jumping up from the table, he came around to pull me up next to him.
"It'll be okay. I promise. We both need a little bit of time to digest this and we'll discuss it tonight. How about dinner at the Island Room?" he whispered into my hair.
God, his arms felt good around my body. "No, I'd prefer dinner here. Quiet and private. I'll make your favorite pasta dish."
"It's a deal. I love you, Monica. And things will work out."
"They will," I agreed, uncertain where any of us were headed.
After Adam left I put the breakfast dishes into the sudsy water to let them soak and prepared to start a load of wash-the whole time, thoughts of the phone call going through my head.
Pouring myself another mug of coffee I took it outside to the deck and curled up on the chaise lounge. Bushes of vivid red azaleas and yellow hibiscus rimmed the outer perimeter of the garden, creating a floral sanctuary.
I loved springtime on Cedar Key, when the air filled with all sorts of tropical fragrances. When I first came to the island to visit my mother and grandmother, it hadn't been my intention to stay forever. I was a Yankee girl-not Southern born and Southern bred. By the time a year had passed, I knew that a place of birth doesn't necessarily produce a feeling of home-because the small island off the west coast of Florida was what accomplished that for me.
At the time, I was between high-pressure jobs with top companies in Boston. On a whim, I applied for and was accepted to teach English at the University of Florida in Gainesville, which I did for a year. Adam hadn't been the only one affected by the economy-due to budget cuts, I also lost my teaching position. By that time, my mother's yarn shop on Cedar Key had become successful and I accepted her offer to handle the business Internet orders, which allowed me to slow down and literally smell the roses. Living in a small Southern town makes that easy to do.
Sitting at the computer at Spinning Forward, I glanced up one afternoon to find a tall, slim, sixtyish-looking woman waiting for me to answer a knitting question. By the time I became a teen, I'd lost interest in knitting, but seeing all the new fibers available since then had restored my love and addiction for this craft. With help from my mother and Aunt Dora, I'd learned the current knitting techniques.
But it wasn't the woman that grabbed my attention-it was the handsome, sexy, younger man standing beside her. The poor guy looked out of place and bored surrounded by cubbyholes filled with alpaca, cashmere, and myriad other rainbow-colored yarn.
She introduced him as her son. "This here is my boy, Adam Brooks," she told me with pride in her voice. "He teaches history to the middle school children right here on this island."
Tall and good-looking with sandy-colored hair, his blue eyes caught mine as he shrugged his shoulders and smiled. I think that killer smile of his sealed my fate.
"Monica Webster," I'd said, holding out my hand to him.
Adam had returned a few days later-without Mama-and invited me to dinner. As irritating as she can be, I've always been happy that Opal Brooks walked into the yarn shop that day with her son in tow.
The telephone ringing in the kitchen brought me out of my daydreaming.
"Hey, Monica," I heard my best friend, Grace, say. "Are you still coming by the coffee shop to drop off those needles for me?"
My eyes flew to the clock on the wall. Damn, I'd forgotten all about my promise from the day before.
"Yeah, I'll be there, but I'm not even dressed yet. So it probably won't be till after lunch. I'm in the middle of doing laundry and not due into the yarn shop till three."
"Okay. Not a problem. What's up? You sound kind of pooky today."
I blew out a deep breath. "I guess pooky would cover it. You're not going to believe this ..."
"Honey, try me. Living on this island, I'd believe just about anything." Despite my sour mood, I laughed. Grace had a way of doing that. Lightening up a difficult situation.
"Well, it seems like my little household of two might be increasing to three."
"What! You're pregnant?"
I let out a laugh. Maybe my statement needed clarification. "No, no. I'm not. Adam's daughter, Clarissa Jo, is coming to live with us."
"You mean, like permanently?"
"I thought that high-bred ex-wife of his had custody."
I proceeded to explain the car accident and social services.
"Hmm, sounds like you might be giving up the honeymoon for motherhood," Grace said.
Ignoring her comment, I explained, "Adam had to leave right after he got the call. We're going to discuss it more tonight, but he'll be heading up there next week for a hearing."
"Lord, it's always something, isn't it?"
Isn't that just the truth? "I need to get moving here. I'll be by the coffee shop before I head into work. Have a nice strong latte ready for me."
I walked into Spinning Forward to find Aunt Dora unpacking a recent delivery of yarn.
Brushing a strand of hair out of her eyes, she looked up and smiled. "Hello, Monica. Thought I'd get this unpacked for you before I leave."
Eudora Foster was my great-aunt and the sister of Sybile Bowden, my grandmother who had passed away three years before.
"Thanks," I said, heading to the coffeepot.
"Any word from your mother?" she questioned.
"She called yesterday morning. After only one month living in Paris, I'd say she's already a confirmed Francophile. She loves the apartment that she and Noah are renting in Montparnasse. Said she feels like a true Parisian-going out daily to shop at the market, the cheese shop, the butcher. I'm not sure we'll ever get her back into a supermarket when they return home next year."
Aunt Dora laughed and shook her head. "Oh, I had no doubt she'd fall in love with the fact she had a chance to actually live there, rather than just visit. What a great opportunity for Noah too. To be asked to teach painting at the Sorbonne, but he's a wonderful artist. So I bet he enjoys returning to a place where he'd lived for so many years."
I took a sip of the hot coffee and nodded. "Yeah, my mother said that his fluent French and knowledge of Paris is really adding to the joy of living there."
"Well, I'm glad to hear they're enjoying it so much. Anything else new?"
"Nah, not much going on," I told her. "Had to stop by the coffee shop to give Grace those needles she needed. Anything I need to know here before you leave for the day?"
Dora filled me in on a couple of telephone sales that would need to be put together and shipped. In addition to knitting and selling yarn, my mother had also specialized in the spinning of dog and cat fur for besotted pet parents across the country. Since I have no knowledge of spinning and no desire to learn, when I decided I wanted to own the shop, I made the decision to no longer offer that service. This was part of the reason I felt scared-I prayed I'd be able to keep the business successful.
Both Dora and I looked up as the wind chimes on the door tinkled.
I turned around to see Saren Ghetti, my grandfather, walk in with a bouquet of wildflowers in his hand.
"Saren, your garden must be bare the way you always bring me fresh flowers."
He threw his head back and laughed. "But you like them, just like your mama did before she left for Paris. Besides, I enjoy doing it. How're ya doin', Miss Monica?"
I felt his arms go around me in a tight squeeze. Although my mother and I had only met her birth father for the first time a few years earlier, we had all developed a deep love for each other. And although we had continued on with first names, rather than Dad or Grandpa, it certainly didn't diminish the tight bond that had grown between us.
"I'm doing just fine, and how about you?"
"Mighty good," he said in that Southern drawl I'd come to love. "Did any of ya hear about Robbie and Sally-Ann?"
They were one of the young couples in town, and I could tell by the twinkle in his eyes that he had some sort of gossip to share. When my mother had first moved to the island, she was astounded at the speed that news got around. Somebody had told her they called it the coconut pipeline.
"No, what happened?" I asked.
"Well, it seems that Miss Sally-Ann just up and left Robbie. Gone, she is." He snapped his fingers together for emphasis. "Just like that."
"My God," Aunt Dora said. "They've only been married a couple years and seemed to get along so well. Who has little Robbie Junior?"
"She left 'em with the babysitter and never came to pick 'em up. So Callie had to call Robbie, and there he was out there on his boat taking in clams. Seems Miss Sally-Ann had enough of marriage and motherhood-she's gone back home to Alabama to her mama's house. And Miss Bess, Robbie's mama, well, she's had to step in and help him out."
Aunt Dora shook her head. "What a shame. And little Robbie is barely two years old. I wonder if she'll come back? Maybe she just needed a little break."
It suddenly occurred to me that when Clarissa Jo descended on my household, it wouldn't be long before Adam and I were fodder for the coconut pipeline.
Chapter TwoAfter I got the Alfredo sauce made for the pasta, I put together a salad and then poured myself a glass of Cabernet. Sitting at the kitchen table, I took a sip and realized I was tired. Stress has a way of draining people, and I was feeling mighty drained after the events of this morning.
Glancing around the kitchen, I smiled. I just loved our home. The house had been in Adam's family for three generations. When he returned to the island two years before, he'd had it remodeled and refurbished. With three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a great room, and eat-in kitchen, it was spacious but not overly large for two people. We'd taken the third bedroom and turned it into a studio of sorts for my knitting projects. It was really a mish-mosh of a house, but that's what added to its character. The master bedroom, bath, and an attached sitting area had been added on, so it jutted out from the side of the house. The great room and kitchen comprised the middle area, similar to cracker houses in the South, and on the other side were two bedrooms and baths. The house had been long paid for when Adam inherited it. But the killer taxes on Cedar Key, in addition to the astronomical premiums for wind and flood insurance, made these payments almost as costly as having a mortgage. Another reason why I hoped the yarn shop would be a success and help us financially.
Excerpted from Casting About by TERRI DuLONG Copyright © 2010 by Terri DuLong. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Terri DuLong has given a gift to readers everywhere with her new Cedar Key Series novel, CASTING ABOUT. I absolutely adored this book as it was the perfect read to curl up with on a fall day and get lost on the Island of Cedar Key with its down home charm and friendly inhabitants. In the first novel of the series, SPINNING FORWARD, readers were introduced to Monica who is the daughter of Sydney Webster. Sydney's story was mostly what the first book was about and in it (not to add a spoiler) we found that her yarn shop was taken over by Monica when Sydney left town. -Monica is in the "honeymoon stage" of her marriage of five months to the marvelous Adams Brooks, a strong male role model who is a school teacher and single dad of eight-year-old daughter Clarissa Jo. When Adam's ex-wife, Carrie Sue, a "real character", is declared unfit, Adam gains full custody of Clarissa Jo and couldn't be happier. Newly located and settled in Cedar Key, Monica fell in love with Adam, and they were only married those few months when she is suddenly thrust head-first into the sudden responsibility of motherhood. Clarissa arrives and the three begin the process of forming a suddenly ready-made family as Monica is required to make huge strides into becoming a mother very quickly. Unsure if she even wants to be a mother, Monica takes on the mission however, and through trial and error, many emotional ups and downs, slowly helps the three begin to bond as a family. After a few missteps, things are moving right along and Monica's doubts about her maternal instinct begin to diminish. -With the help of family and friends, Monica is able to run her business and actually make some great improvements to the shop as well as slowly become used to being married and being a suddenly new mother. Adam's mother, Opal, comes to stay on the island for a while and her stay stretches out as she bonds more with her granddaughter and her own insecurities begin to fade somewhat on this tiny strip of paradise. Delightful Dora is Monica's aunt and helps run the shop, although she does it out of love of the business and knitting, rather than for any money. Last in Monica's circle is Grace, who is her best friend, and runs a wonderful local coffee shop that is down the street from the shop. The two friends are great support for each other and with Grace, another plot line develops. -When Grace starts to see a new man in town, Monica worries as Grace seems to be getting in pretty deep, pretty fast. It turns out the local beehive of gossip has it that developers are trying to buy up property to turn the lovely island into a tourist mecca. The locals are against this and when Monica gets an idea that the man Grace is seeing is implicated, she gets involved in their business which starts some fireworks going. -The other sub-plot deals with a spirit of Sybile who was Monica's late grandmother. Faintly, and then more noticeably, she seems to make her presence known to Monica who at first chalks it up as coincidence. First things disappear and then show up again suddenly. Next Sybile seems to play an important part in helping Clarissa adjust to her new home. However, when sudden illness strikes the family, Sybile's presence is most assuredly felt and it plays an important part in the story. -With the twists and turns of each story line keeping the pages turning, all "knitting" together nicely at the conclusion; this is a novel I hated to see end. CASTING ABOUT reads just fine as
Four years ago Monica Webster moved to Cedar Key, Florida where she bought her mom's yarn shop and fell in love and married Adam Brooks (see Spinning Forward). Life has been good as business is doing well and her relationship with Adam is strong. She loves living on the Key with eccentric neighbors and her beloved Adam. However, her idyllic world implodes when the court declares Adam's alcoholic former wife an unfit mother following a DUI in which their eight-year-old daughter, Clarissa Jo was left home unsupervised; custody is granted to Adam. Although she was unsure she wanted to be a mom, Monica feels for Clarissa Jo who arrives clinging to a Raggedy Ann doll like a much younger child would. As the trio tries to forge into a family, a struggling at step-motherhood Monica turns to her kindhearted grandma for sage advice; even though her granny died years ago. The prime plot of Monica and Adam adjusting to his preadolescent daughter living with them is not a new theme (see Carrie Adams' The Godmother and the Stepmother); however several subplots bring brisk freshness to the enjoyable character driven story line. Granny adds a beautiful TLC touch from the grave and Monica's BFF has relationship issues. Fans of family dramas will appreciate Terri DuLong's fine tale of an adult welcoming with doubts that she is capable of parenting a frightened depressed girl whose best friend is her doll. Harriet Klausner
Just read " Casting About" it is so great, a very moving story, you won`t want to miss. It was so good I didn`t put it down, till I finished it and now I am going to read her Christmas book. She is such a great author you feel the characters are like friends of yours.
This is a wonderful book about a small community. Much like the books by Debbie Macomber and Robin Carr you find great characters dealing with every day problems. There is a sense of family and friends discovering life and being there for one another. You will love all of Terri DuLong's Cedar Key series. If you love to knit, you will love them twice as much.
Once again just a nice relaxing read with some knitting pointers thrown in. Didn't take up right where the last book, SPINNING FORWARD, left off so that was a nice surprise and there is a 3rd to the series, SUNRISE ON CEDAR KEY. Good job Terri Dulong and please write many more.
A delightful story about newlyweds Monica and Adam and building a life with an instant family with the addition of Adam's daughter, Clarissa, after only 6 months of marriage. Their family unit seems to be the norm for today with the inclusion of extended family (grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-aunts), as well as friends. The characters are quite believable and sometimes quite hilarious in their reactions and interactions. I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable story, perhaps due to the realism. Ms. DuLong dealt with the issue of the death of a parent of one of Clarissa's friend with a quiet dignity and honor as well as with compassion. The tale becomes heart-wrenching, at least to me, when Clarissa suffers a serious bout with bacterial meningitis. In the course of one year this group becomes "knitted together" to become a loving and all-too-believable family unit.
Having not read DuLong's previous book Spinning Forward, I was a little worried I would be lost with this one. Thankfully, I was wrong. I was able to thoroughly enjoy the quaint town setting, the funny and interesting characters, and the overall pleasant story without feeling lost. I would suggest this book for any fans of Debbie Macomber, knitting, or any small town "chick lit".
This is the kind of book that you would like to cuddle up with on a cold day, in other words, a "comfort read". I found out after I read it that there was an earlier book in the series. But that doesn't matter too much because this is a great standalone book. Now that I have read it, I would like to read the first book, Spinning Forward¿. Monica Brooks, the main character, narrates the story in first person, has only been married for six months. She was going to take over her mother's yarn shop. She has fallen in love with the island life of Cedar Key. It is no wonder since her best friend and many of her relatives live there and act as a great support network to her. Her life was feeling very comfortable and she thought it was going in the right direction. But her husband, Adam received a surprise phone that his ex-wife, Carrie Sue was in the hospital. She and her friends had gone out drinking while her eight year old daughter remained alone in the apartment. So, now her and Adam's daughter, Claris was staying in a temporary foster home. Monica immediately wonders whether or not she would be a good mother or not. She had been an only child and knew nothing about children. She is so full of doubts. How is she supposed to bond with a little girl that she didn't know? What if she makes terrible mistakes? What if she is not a good mother? Her friend, Grace has a very successful coffee shop with a beautiful view of the water. She has had no longstanding relationships with men. Then, someone who "looks like George Clooney¿ But does he have an alternative motive for this romance? Clarissa, the long ignored and neglected daughter of Carrie Sue, comes to live with Monica and Adam. She has gotten used to seeing her mother constantly drunk and never having the opportunity for friendship. She needs a real mother, and a family, and friends and plenty of hugs and caring. That is how this book starts. It keeps you reading and interested and is a quick read. My only criticism is that it seemed a little too tidy with the ending but it was a very comfy read. The author does tackle an unspoken problem of new mothers, which I applaud her for. I recommend this to all women who have doubts about surviving motherhood and those would heartwarming story about families.
This book is the sequel to the author's earlier Spinning Forward. It is NOT necessary to have read the first book before reading this one. It may make the first few pages a little easier to understand, but it is not essential to the story.This series is set in a small town in Florida filled with interesting "characters". Newlyweds Monica and Adam must unexpectedly take custody of Adam's 8 year old daughter. The book is mainly the story of these three adjusting to their new life. There's a touch of paranormal - nothing really weird or "woo woo" - just a little feeling that some of the previous generations are looking over the current residents like guardian angels. Quite enjoyable - especially to those who enjoy Debbie Macomber or Fannie Flagg.
Yarn shop owner, Monica Brooks, has been married to Adam only six months when they find that Adam's daughter is coming to live with them. Monica must learn to be a mother to eight-year-old Clarissa, but finds that she has plenty of help from her close family. The novel is a sequel to Spinning Forward which I haven't read, but I found the story stands well on it's own. Casting About is a sweet, feel-good story about family and friends, and I enjoyed reading it.
Monica and Brad have been married only a few months when Brad learns his ex-wife has been in an accident and he will have full custody of his 11 year old daughter, Clarissa. Monica has never been sure she wanted children and now must learn to care for an 11 year old child. Clarissa's life with her mother has been unstable since her mother is an alcoholic and it takes time for her to learn to trust Brad and Monica. Now Monica has her hands full being a newlywed, raising a pre-teen and running her own business, a yarn shop in the small town of Cedar Key.This is a sweet, entertaining story of life in a small town, the importance of family and friends and the many faces of love. The dialog spoken by the characters seemed to be a southern dialect, maybe, but it didn't ring true and seemed stilted at times. Although this second book in the Cedar Key series can be read as a stand alone title, I think it would be more entertaining to read the books in order. I'm looking forward to going back and reading book 1, Spinning Forward.
I'm unclear why there are knitting needles and yarn on the cover of this book. The main character owns a yarn shop, but that has so little to do with the plot that I cannot fathom why that seems to be the focus. The main character is grossly immature and unlikeable. Her husband has no personality and seems to exist mainly to have a daughter. The author appears to have an issue with fathers not receiving custody of their children as several over long passages are devoted to how it is a disservice to justice that men don't get custody. EVER. Well, they do. But in this case, it appears that if this father had truly wanted to pursue it, he could have. He just didn't really try until police were involved. The kid was whiny, the father colorless, the stepmother self-centered. For example, the main character reveals to her best friend something damaging about the man she is dating. Her best friend gets angry. Despite them both living on a small island, their shops within walking distance of one another, AND being "best friends", they do not speak for over a month after this incident. And then everything is peachy.
Recently married Monica Brooks has taken over her mother's knitting shop on Cedar Key, Florida. Life is good and Monica is satisfied with her decision to not have children as she feels she isn't the "mothering" type. However, life changes when her husband's ex-wife is declared unfit to raise their eight-year-old daughter and custody transfers to him. Now Monica, Adam and Clarissa have to work out living arrangements and family life that works for all of them. While this book is the second in a series, there was no problem reading it as a stand alone. I enjoyed seeing the new family evolve and Monica's parenting skills emerge.