“A classic romance. . . . It’s been done countless times, but rarely as engagingly as Shelton does it in this novel.” –Boston Globe
Jamie is a free-spirited artist and devoted single mom with a slightly unorthodox living situation: in exchange for free rent, she looks after the grandson of her much older landlord. But when Harris Goddard dies of a heart attack–naked and splayed out in Jamie’s bed–nobody believes that he and Jamie were just roommates.
With the rumor mill buzzing and two small children to care for, Jamie’s life is further upended when Harris’s handsome son, Nate, a charismatic jet-setting salesman, shows up unannounced at his childhood home to settle the estate and reclaim the five-year-old son he left behind.
As Jamie’s and Nate’s highly guarded worlds collide, can these two damaged souls manage to see the good in each other . . . and maybe more?
“Shelton’s warm, sentimental love story is told with a tenderness of heart and a nurturing eye.” –Romantic Times
“Quite wonderful. . . . Like Anne Tyler, Shelton seems to possess a nearly boundless capacity for empathy. She has the ability to make us love her characters for their faults, not in spite of them.” –Connecticut Post
|Product dimensions:||5.22(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.85(d)|
About the Author
SANDI KAHN SHELTON is the author of the novels What Comes After Crazy and A Piece of Normal and three nonfiction books on parenting. A feature writer for the New Haven Register, she is also a frequent contributor to Working Mother, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, and Redbook.
Reading Group Guide
When Jamie McClintock’s elderly roommate, Harris Goddard, suddenly dies of a heart attack, she is left not only to grieve the loss of her dear friend, but to figure out how she can bear to part with the child she has been helping to raise, Harris’s grandson Christopher–and how she can explain to her own son, Arley, that they have to leave their home and send Christopher off to live with his father.
To make the situation worse, once Christopher’s father, Nate, rolls into town in the middle of the night, Jamie is overwhelmed with her dislike for him and her fears for Christopher’s fate. Jamie was warned by Harris about Nate’s irresponsibility–Nate did, in fact, leave his son to be raised by his grandfather after the untimely death of his young wife, and now leads the freewheeling life of a world-traveling salesman. But this isn’t Jamie’s only point of contention. Nate thinks parenthood is going to be a breeze and that Christopher can just tag along on plane rides and hang out in conference room meetings. Jamie, of course, knows this will never work with a five year old, and in the few days she and Nate spend together packing up and planning the funeral, they fight passionately about that point and nearly everything else.
But once they've gone their separate ways, they come to see just how much they need what the other has to offer. Nate, stunned by loneliness and the sometimes hilarious difficulties of being a single parent, sees what he's thrown away by leaving his old home town, while Jamie learns to put aside her dismal romantic history and let herself trust again.
1. Harris presents the story of how he came to be Christopher’s caretaker by explaining that Nate was far too irresponsible to be a father, especially after his wife, Louisa, died. However, when Nate speaks about it with Jamie, he claims that Harris didn’t want him to be a part of Christopher’s life and insisted on him staying far away. Why do you think Harris prevented Nate from being a part of Christopher’s life? What would be his motivation in doing so? Do you think this was something that Nate believed in order to walk away relatively guilt-free? Why?
2. By Nate’s account, Harris was a horrible father to him, abandoning him and then ignoring him for much of his life. Why then would Nate and Louisa move in with Harris? Were the two men trying to reconcile or was it purely a necessity for the young couple? Why?
3. After Louisa’s death, why would Nate leave Christopher to be raised by the father who abandoned him?
4. Arguably, Jamie is the most grounded and responsible character, despite her hippie inclinations. However, toward the end of the novel Lucy says to her, “You’re the one who does what she wants. You have your art. And you don’t do anything you don’t want to. Anything that’s just for money. It’s me who has to worry about the mortgage and the bills. I’ve always had to take care of you, even from the time we were little and you were too shy to get to know anybody. It’s always been me, me, me!” (p. 272) How does this argument shed new light on Jamie’s lifestyle? Did you believe Lucy? Why or why not? Did the argument make you see Jamie as irresponsible or rather as taking life as it comes and following her happiness? Do you think Lucy is jealous of Jamie? Why?
5. Chief Cooksey is also antagonistic to Jamie. Do you think his anger toward her is as simple as him wanting to protect Harris from a “gold digger”? Or does his viewpoint speak to something greater–some fundamental dislike of Jamie and her life choices?
6. When Chief Cooksey tells Nate about how Harris’s body was found, why didn’t Nate confront Jamie? Why did he choose to believe that Jamie had lied to him?
7. What did you make of Lainey Haney asking Jamie to rejoin the Campfire Kids as leader of the jamboree? What does her inclusion of Jamie say about the town and the viewpoint of the younger generation–especially in comparison to the views of Chief Cooksey?
8. There are so many character dichotomies throughout the text–Harris and Nate, Nate and Trace, Jamie and Nate, Jamie and Lucy, Jamie and Tina, and Christopher and Arley. However, rather than the pairs being simple foils of each other, they seem to share both similarities and differences, and all the characters have both good and bad qualities. What do you make of all these pairings? What are the similarities and differences in each of the pairs?
9. Describe the moment where Nate proved that he could be and wanted to be not only a provider for, but a parent to Christopher. How did he show that he could be a good partner for Jamie? When was that turning point?
10. Toward the end of the novel, both Nate’s and Jamie’s lives fall apart. After arguing with her sister, Jamie is prompted to leave Lucy’s house and become temporarily homeless, first camping by the pond and then squatting in the abandoned house. Meanwhile, overwhelmed with caring for Christopher and trying to maintain a long-distance relationship with Tina, Nate loses his job. What is revealed in their individual declines?
11. In this novel, even the house is a character. How do Harris’s attempts to repair it, Nate’s tearing it apart, and Jamie’s squatting in it represent aspects of each person’s character?
12. This novel seems to put forth the idea that people can change. Do you think that this is true? Who in the novel most evolves? What are the benefits or drawbacks of the characters’ evolutions?
13. After Christopher breaks his arm in the whip line, Chief Cooksey tells Nate, “’I’ve been thinking. This Jamie…well, what’s she gonna do? She’s got a sick boy, lots to think about.’ He stared off into space. ‘Life or death all the damn time. She had to do what she did. Lemme just say, if you want to blame her for this, it’s probably gonna end up being me you should blame.’” What led Cooksey to have this change of heart about Jamie? What has he learned?
14. The novel also speaks to the idea of family. What do you think constitutes a family? Were Harris and Jamie a family? Are Nate and Jamie?
15. As Denise Morgan outlines it, kissing games are the things in life one doesn’t take seriously. Given that definition, what do you think is the significance of the book’s title?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
LOVED this book! A treat to read.Nate returns home after his father, Harris, has died in the house he grew up in, naked in his housemates bed.His father abandoned Nate and his mom when he was a kid, and, of course, he has issues. He also has a son that Harris has been raising.Delightful, easy read. Great romance, Great characters, wonderful dialogue!!!
What a great story! This novel was so endearing, from beginning to end. All of the characters were believable, the plot was realistic and kept my interest throughout, and the writing was superb. The story flowed smoothly and without any dry spells....quite remarkable!I was very impressed with this writer's skill and heart, and I can't wait to read more by this gifted author. If you want a book that will touch your soul, this one will fit the bill! Not a syrupy romance, but a wonderful story about how two people discovered what really matters in life, how they came to terms with love and loss, and happened to find each other in the process.
Nate, widower, is estranged from his father and his five year old son, Christopher. He spends his life as a successful jet setting salesman. Jamie is a struggling artist raising her son after her boyfriend left her when Arley was born. When Nate¿s father dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, it is time for Nate to step up and take responsibility for his son. He arrives at his father¿s Connecticut home to find Jamie in residence. Knowing his father had always been a ¿ladies man¿ he immediately assumes the worst. And Jamie is none to pleased to see this man who has never had time for his son. Sparks start to fly as each tries to grab the high moral ground.This tale of two wounded people trying to make headway in life was cute and enjoyable. And it seemed at times as if the children were the real ¿grownups¿ in the story. Kissing Games of the World is a light read about overcoming the things that have held us back in relationships.
Yes it dose :)
In Chester, Connecticut no one who knows sexagenarian Harris Goddard is shocked when much younger single mom Jamie McClintock accompanied by her asthmatic five-year-old son Arley moves in with him and his five-year-old grandson Christopher. Everyone ignores the kids being the same age and perhaps the mom might be there to care for Christopher; the assumption is womanizing Harris has his latest woman move in with him.
However, rumors and scandal explodes when a naked Harris is found dead in Jamie's bed. Everyone assumes the worst about her and some suspect she killed her paramour. Harris¿ son Nate believes Jamie is wrong for his son Christopher so he comes to his late dad¿s house determined to take his child with him, sell the home, and kick mother and son to the curb. However shocking both of them, Jamie and Nate are attracted to one another, but both has demons even before his dad was found in her bed.
This is a terrific character driven contemporary romance filled with twists and misconceptions. Nate and Jamie do not want their attraction for several reasons, but nether can prevent it from happening. Their respective kids act like children so they enhance the relationship by both driving the adults together and part. Sandi Kahn Shelton provides a wonderful tale of love using a common theme mad fresh by a strong cast.