Mar 14 2014 8:30am

First Look: Karen Templeton’s More Than She Expected (March 18, 2014)

More Than She Expected by Karen TempletonKaren Templeton
More Than She Expected
Harlequin / March 18, 2014 (print); April 1, 2014 (digital) / $5.50 print, $4.99 digital

Neighbor, handyman and…husband? One woman finds her heart's desire right in her own backyard in award-winning author Karen Templeton's newest addition to her popular miniseries Jersey Boys! 

He's just a friend! is the mantra pregnant Laurel Kent lives by while pretending not to stare at sexy Tyler Noble, the gorgeous neighbor who's been all-too-kindly playing Mr. Fix-It in her house. After all, she needs the help more than she cares to admit—her sharp-tongued grandmother is her only family. But it's getting nearly impossible to ignore the sparks and butterflies she feels in her tummy every time he smiles at her…and that's not the baby talking! 

It's ironic to Tyler that he's repairing the fence separating his yard from Laurel's when all he wants is zero barriers between them! Sure, she's pregnant, and no, she insists she's not looking for Husband #2. But he knows if she'd give him a chance, he could prove that he's the missing piece needed to complete her new family…. 

Romance readers constantly get called into question for their reading choices. Every book published is escapist fluff, ergo all romance readers are so worn down by reality that they need this genre to give their pathetic little lives meaning. Category romance readers get this sort of nonsense from both camps though—non-romance readers and fellow romance fans who cannot fathom why you’re reading a book about a sheikh. Category romance does play upon certain tropes and a lot of them do have a certain element of escapism to them. Royal characters, sheikhs, secret babies, amnesia plots, hunky cowboys—they are all staples of the category universe and I love every single one of them. But the category books none of those naysayers ever seem to know about? Those are the books Karen Templeton writes.

Templeton has built her career writing about “normal people.” I love picking up one of her stories because she gives me plenty of delicious romance while never losing sight of reality. The characters that live in her universe are the people you could easily encounter at the grocery store, a PTA meeting, at the laundromat. Which may lead some to think that her stories could boring, because how could reading about “normal people” possibly be exciting?

Laurel Kent is full up on excitement. She just bought a house, she’s single, and she’s pregnant. It was not a planned pregnancy and the Baby Daddy is no longer in her life. Her parents both gone, she was raised her grandmother who recently moved into a retirement community, and since she’s a writer who works from home? Basically Laurel is one step away from being a total hermit. Then a broken down fence, and a dog with an explorer’s temperament, bring her into contact with her neighbor, Tyler Noble. Her younger, bachelor playboy neighbor who fixes her fence and then keeps coming around after the job is done.

This is all very straight-forward, and frankly, does sound kind of boring. That’s the author’s genius, however; she lulls you into a false sense of complacency. You read the first few chapters and think, “Well, this is nice,” and just when you start thinking, “ho hum”—she smacks you upside the head with so much emotion and angst that you begin reading with a lump in your throat. This story is no different, and plays beautifully into what I’m starting to call The Templeton Formula.

Like all good romance heroes, Tyler has baggage. His mother relinquished her parental rights when he was ten so he could be adopted by the Noble family. The Nobles were wonderful parents, who fostered and/or adopted many children. Tyler came into a great situation, but that doesn’t mean it was all champagne and roses. It doesn’t mean that Tyler wouldn’t have baggage he’s still lugging around from his past. He’s charming, he’s a flirt, and he’s not a man who wants to tie himself down. He’s not a man who can just open up to anybody. Which Laurel soon realizes, and it is what leads her to ultimately lay down the gauntlet. Because while Laurel puts on a brave face, and seems so put together? She’s been badly hurt before. Like Tyler, she has her own scars that she doesn’t publicly declare to just anybody.

As a reader, you want Laurel and Tyler to figure it out and get together because we all know Laurel and Tyler. They could be one of us, a family member, a friend, that guy you saw in the produce aisle last weekend. They’re completely relatable and accessible as real people, even if they are fictional characters. Yes, Dukes, sheikhs, cowboys and Navy SEALs are grand, but a Karen Templeton book gives hope that love and romance is not out of reach for “normal people” just like us.

Learn more or order a copy of More Than She Expected by Karen Templeton, out March 18, 2014:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



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