Book Review

Not Just the Nanny by Christie Ridgway

B-

Title: Not Just the Nanny
Author: Christie Ridgway
Publication Info: Harlequin/Silhouette Special Edition 2010
ISBN: 978037365558
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book CoverI am a fan of forbidden attraction romances, but I often get a major case of the squicks from romances that are set in a workplace, particularly a nanny/babysitter employment situation. But Christie Ridgeway’s name and the description that indicated the kids were older and therefore the nanny was, too, was enough to convince me to give the book a try.

Oh, holy smoke, there is some hot steamy attraction up in here. While the ending left me a little cold, the development of attraction and the negotiation of the relationship was steaming excellently hot.

Kayla has been the nanny for single father Mick for years. She’s older than one might expect – and she lives in because Mick is a firefighter who is often on call at the station for 24 hour shifts. Kayla has been finishing her BA degree while she works, and at 27, she’s got her degree, an excellent relationship with the children she cares for, and an increasing amount of discomfort because secretly, she’s fallen in love with Mick (who, in case you are wondering, is 34. The age difference is not so so huge). She doesn’t want things to change but they are going to.

Mick has been on autopilot for a long time, first after overcoming his grief at the loss of his wife in a traffic accident, then raising his children with the help of a live-in nanny while serving as captain of the fire department. But now everything is changing: his daughter is a pre teen who has gone bra shopping and fights with him over wearing makeup. His nanny suddenly looks terribly attractive to him. Even the local bar got a complete remodel. Everything is different. He’s, much like many guys I know, utterly pissed at all this change popping up around him.

I love Ridgway’s manner in detailing those changes and how they affect everyone while also showing their own changes as well. Jane, Mick’s daughter, is on the cusp of teenager-land, with the accompanying hormones and temper and drama fits. His son is just at the leaving edge of childhood. A new job with another family has popped up for Kayla that Mick knows about but is afraid to tell her of, and Kayla is aware that it’s time she grew up herself and moved on from her hopeless relationship.

And yet there’s an axis point around which all these relationships revolve and from which all those changes emerge: one spot in the kitchen where Mick first notices Kayla in a different light (literally). That one location in their home becomes the epicenter of the story, and the ripples that emerge from that one moment carry through every scene afterward. That a location in the house serves as a pivotal point in their relationship also underscores how important their healthy and happy home life is, and how each person in their family is valuable and important. The kids aren’t an afterthought – their drama affects Kayla and Mick.

The reverse of that was my problem with the ending.

I thought it was a little too easy for the kids to accept Kayla’s potential change of status in their family, especially after a semi-pointed conversation with Jane about the fact that Kayla is paid to take care of them.

One of the best moments in the book comes at the end, when Mick realizes that his perception of his job as a father is somewhat incorrect, that his job as a first responder and immediate emergency caretaker has leaked into his home life, skewing his understanding of his responsibilities to his children. I’m trying to be broad here, but his realization of how his kids help him as much as he helps them was just wonderful. Too often, fathers get a limited, un-nuanced treatment, and in his book, I really appreciated Ridgeway’s portrayal of Mick as a father.

My problems with the ending caused me to finish the book with a bit of an, “Oh, well, the first 3/4ths were kinda awesome” feeling, and even if the resolution is too easy, the slow build of attraction between Mick and Kayla, and the way in which they honor both their responsibilities and their feelings is worth reading. I’m not often one for romances with children in them, but as I said in the beginning, there was enough to indicate that my fears of trite portrayal might be unfounded, and I am so, SO glad I gave this book a try. 


Not Just the Nanny is available from Amazon and on the Kindle, Book Depository, Powells, eHarlequin, and BN/Nook.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Rueyn says:

    What was your problem with the ending?  You kind of left us hanging there :)

  2. 2
    Rueyn says:

    Wait…was the problem you had that the kids became an afterthought?  It’s early.  Where’s my coffee?  Bueller?

  3. 3
    tara says:

    indeed… what was the problem with the ending?

  4. 4
    Laura (in PA) says:

    Oops – methinks this got posted a tad prematurely. :)

  5. 5
    Castiron says:

    There’s an HTML error; if you view page source you can see the rest of the post.

  6. 6
    amouise says:

    Copied from the source code

    One of the best moments in the book comes at the end, when Mick realizes that his perception of his job as a father is somewhat incorrect, that his job as a first responder and immediate emergency caretaker has leaked into his home life, skewing his understanding of his responsibilities to his children. I’m trying to be broad here, but his realization of how his kids help him as much as he helps them was just wonderful. Too often, fathers get a limited, un-nuanced treatment, and in his book, I really appreciated Ridgeway’s portrayal of Mick as a father.

    My problems with the ending caused me to finish the book with a bit of an, “Oh, well, the first 3/4ths were kinda awesome” feeling, and even if the resolution is too easy, the slow build of attraction between Mick and Kayla, and the way in which they honor both their responsibilities and their feelings is worth reading. I’m not often one for romances with children in them, but as I said in the beginning, there was enough to indicate that my fears of trite portrayal might be unfounded, and I am so, SO glad I gave this book a try. 

  7. 7
    JamiSings says:

    Is the coding problem the reason why everything is suddenly in hard to read pink?

  8. 8
    teshara says:

    I know young nannies get a lot of attention, but I was a nanny and I can tell you from experience: most nannies are over 40 working for families that are in their 20’s early 30’s.

    Give me an intergenerational fic where the younger father falls for the older nanny and has to get over himself and grow up to get her attention and I’m SO there.

  9. 9
    SB Sarah says:

    WHOA. One missed quotation mark and the whole thing gets borked. My apologies – my bad. All fixed now.

  10. 10
    Oldbitey says:

    You said ‘older’ and I thought, “Cool, a 40something nanny!”
    Dang. I’m with you on this, Teshara.
    “Give me an intergenerational fic where the younger father falls for the older nanny and has to get over himself and grow up to get her attention and I’m SO there.”

  11. 11
    RebeccaJ says:

    I try to avoid these nanny books and the related “instant father needs a nanny” books because I can never tell whether or not he REALLY loves her or she’s convenient because he now has a built in housekeeper AND babysitter. Plus, supposedly intelligent guys will grab the first woman they see to take care of their kids. In the one I just got finished reading, for instance, the guy is a detective and several days after he hires the neighborhood DOG SITTER to watch his infant child, he admits to himself that he “doesn’t know her very well”.

    Ummmm, you’re a freaking DETECTIVE!! Do some detecting already!  Writing about a lawman who hires someone he doesn’t know to watch his child is downright silly. Plus, it made him look even more self-absorbed than he already was.

  12. 12
    RebeccaJ says:

    BTW, with the holidays approaching, would you consider doing a “what is your favorite contemporary Christmas romance novel?” post? I’d love to get some suggestions from da bitches.

  13. 13
    rachel says:

    A great review, i’m up for some hot action now the weather’s getting cold! keep me warm bitches! (:
    Canvas Art Prints

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