After her divorce, best-selling romance author, Mary Jane Marsh Simmons decided to move all seven of her girls out of the big city and back home to her hometown, Nacona, Texas. So when the last remaining relative of Miz Raven died and the Paradise was put on the market, she bought it, an old house that had been a brothel during the cattle trial days in Spanish Fort, Texas.
Joe Clay Carter had just retired from twenty years in the Marines, Special Forces. He'd lived through wars and rumors of wars and decided to go home to Nacona to do nothing but play poker, draw his retirement check and enjoy life. Two weeks later he was bored stiff, his motel room closing in on him, and he was seriously thinking of reenlisting until high old high school crush, Mary Jane, came to his door asking him to remodel her new house.
As teenagers Mary Jane never gave Joe Clay a second glance, so he was surprised by her offer. Immediately they shook on the deal and he moved into her house to get started. Much to his surprise, the house came filled to the roof with little girls, good food, and crazy conversation, all wrapped up in a house that needed a minor miracle to fix by Christmas. He wasn't sure if he could get it done in time but he was willing to try. If only Mary Jane was willing to give him a chance too.
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Carolyn Brown lives in Nocona, Texas and Davis, Oklahoma. She and her husband, Charles, have three grown children and a dozen grandchildren. When she's not writing, you can find her reading a book or cooking.From Publishers Weekly:
A head cheerleader and a star quarterback find love two decades after high school in Brown's latest romantic confection. Successful romance novelist Mary Jane Marsh Simmons, the divorced mother of seven daughters under age 14, has just bought Paradise, a grand fixer-upper—formerly a brothel—in her hometown of Nacona, Tex., and asked former classmate Joe Clay Carter to be her live-in, six-day-a-week handyman. They exchange some flirty barbs—Joe's loved Mary since high school; Mary finds Joe cute but cocky—and the deal is done. Soon Joe, who ostensibly hates kids, is living amid minor bedlam at Paradise. The girls love him immediately and plot cleverly to bring Mary and Joe together. But Mary's a spitfire and Joe's reluctant: though "he would have given his stocks and bonds portfolio to kiss her awake and bare his soul to her," he doesn't. And while Mary's stomach churns every time Joe looks at her, she can't trust him because her last husband was such a creep. It's obvious that they're perfect for each other, but maybe all that good food Mary cooks in between tossing off bestsellers like grocery lists has dulled their wits. It's happily ever after in under 200 pages, but despite the fun, that still feels a bit too long. (Dec.)
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