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daddyI’m feeling very hard to please. When the story is over the top, I whine about it being unrealistic. Handsome young non-psychopathic billionaires, if they exist, tend not to suddenly fall for cheerful single mothers and propose within a week. Courtships rarely involve light shows in city parks. And first sex with a new partner is usually more exploratory than explosive (I’m not bitter, just realistic). But when a story is little more than the calm coming together of two compatible people, I’m left wanting more.

It’s a generic imperative that the couple will come together, and these stories are usually short and simple enough the heroine will end up with the first man she meets. All that remains is discovering the obstacles, and seeing how they overcome them. Lee McKenzie’s The Daddy Projectsuggests the ending even before the hero is introduced, and the obstacles seem insignificant.

Kristi works staging houses for sale, which lets her pay a mortgage of her own, but doesn’t leave extra money for frills like an iPhone for her teenage daughter. Nate is a widowed university professor, selling what Kristi considers to be a dream house because it’s too big for him after his wife died. He’s a little challenged by pushy in-laws and twin preschool girls who have “Cindy Brady hair.” Gee, could this group somehow become a family?

Kristi and Nate both have parents who are fixing them up with unwanted dates, so they agree to attend each others’ family functions as a couple. The pretense is maintained for almost one date. After that, the only thing keeping the couple apart is Kristi’s desire to set an example of relationship restraint for her daughter.

This romance has a more or less capable and independent heroine, which I like. The couple get together because they have a similar outlook on life, and although they were happy on their own, they are better together. I like that. They live in the real world, and courtship is sometimes awkward. I like that. They spend a night together, but it’s tastefully offstage. I’m good with that. Most of the story takes place over a couple of weeks, but it’s about the beginning of the relationship. I like the realistic timing. Unfortunately, although I like all the elements, and the story is a pleasant read, at the end I was unsatisfied. It seemed too easy. In real life romances, I’m happy to avoid drama, but in story romances, I think I need some.

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