Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday Review: The Marriage Campaign

The Marriage Campaign
By Karen Templeton
Publisher: Harlequin 
(Special Edition)
Release Date: 
January 22, 2013

Karen Templeton wraps up her Summer Sisters trilogy in this book, following The Doctor’s Do-Over (Mel and Ryder’s story) and A Gift for All Seasons (April and Patrick’s story). Blythe Broussard is serving as maid of honor and wedding planner for the double wedding of the two cousins with whom she shared the summers of their childhood at their grandmother’s house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She’s thrilled for Mel and April, but their happiness makes her newly and acutely aware that the flip side of her treasured independence is loneliness.

Wes Phillips, a young widower with an eleven-year-old son, is one of Maryland’s congressional representatives. His wife was killed two years earlier in the same automobile accident that took the life of Ryder’s fiancée. But unlike Ryder who has mourned his loss and is ready to begin a new life with Mel and her daughter Quinn, Wes can’t imagine himself married to anyone other than Kym. He takes his responsibilities to his district seriously, in part because of his own idealism and in part to honor Kim who worked hard to see him elected. He is devoted to his son Jack, but Wes’s work in Washington means that he is away from Jack a great deal of the time and often caught up with job-related tasks even when he is home in Maryland.

Blythe, emotionally abandoned by her own parents, identifies with Jack who is still grieving for his mother and angry that his father doesn’t seem to have time for him. His grandparents live with him, but not even their loving presence makes up for what he has lost. Blythe knows from experience the dangers that such feelings can lead to. When Wes hires her to design a new, more grown-up room for Jack, she finds herself falling hard for Wes, Jack, and Jack’s black lab, Bear.

She’s not the only one. The attraction that Wes feels for Blythe from their early meetings grows into something more powerful as the two of them spend more time together. Soon Wes knows he wants Blyth in his life permanently, but Blythe is all too aware of the obstacles to that ending. Jack is not ready for someone to take his mother’s role, and even when Jack opens his heart to Blythe, her own wild-child past makes her the last person a politician needs as his wife.  

Readers will find both Blythe and Wes likable, sympathetic character and will feel invested in seeing them achieve their HEA. Jack is an important character, and Templeton makes both him and Quinn, who are tweens at that difficult stage when they are no longer little kids but are not yet teenagers, both believable and endearing. The relationship among the three cousins continues to be an important thread in the story and part of the appeal of the series. Those who read the two earlier books will certainly enjoy the glimpses of Mel’s and April’s HEAs with the men they are marrying, but The Marriage Campaign can be read as a standalone.

The Doctor’s Do-Over is my favorite of the three books, but this book is a strong conclusion to a trilogy that is among award-winning Templeton’s best work. If you haven’t read Karen Templeton, this book—or even better, this series—is an excellent place to begin.

I can’t think of many romances that feature a politician as a hero. Why do you think politician heroes are a rare breed in romance fiction?


PJ Ausdenmore said...

I enjoy Karen Templeton's books but I haven't read this series yet. Must correct that.

I haven't read many romances with a politician hero either. In fact, the only one that immediately comes to mind is Nora's Alan MacGregor.

The reason that we don't see many politician heroes may stem from the fact that many people don't view politicians in a positive light. Kind of hard to make a romance hero of someone who generates so many negative feelings.

Janga said...

PJ, I have a soft spot for Alan MacGregor. I not only love him because he courted Shelby with the most imaginative gifts ever but also because he was my first Nora Roberts hero. And he ended up as president. LOL All the Possibilities, which I read in 1985, was my first Nora Roberts book. I still have that tattered paperback that I paid less than a dollar for at the UBS.

I also adore Marie Force's Senator Nick Cappuano, hero of her Fatal series. I think he too is headed for a higher office. You're probably right about the reason, but I think it's a shame. The romance heroes could model what politicians should be rather than what they too often are.

regencygirl01 said...

I have read several of her books and enjoyed them all.I have read from the Wed in the West series and the Guys an daughters series

Janga said...

Regencygirl, I like the Guys and Daughters series a lot too. Babies, Inc. is another of her series I love. She gives conventions a twist in each one of those.

quantum said...

Political heroes may be rarer than male underwear modelling heroes!

Because of the power that they wield, I think they are peculiarly prone to corruption and therefore prime candidates for villains. I've started J D Robb's 'In Death' series and will be very surprised if a few politicians don't appear on the way! LOL

Sheriffs in the old Wild West had to uphold the laws that politicians created so were only one step down the ladder. I've met some great Sheriff heroes in my reading, most recently created by Linda Lael Miller ... but that's cheating .... almost a political answer to your question! LOL

Karen Templeton is new to me and you make her work sound very attractive Janga. I've added her to my TBI (to be investigated) list for when I feel like trying something new.

It's curious that the more I read this blog the more lists I seem to create. It's an addictive habit! LOL

irisheyes said...

I agree with PJ, Janga. I would think it would be hard to create a hero out of a profession that in reality has very few heroic characteristics. But then again, that's what romances are all about - especially lately. It seems publishers are always looking for authors willing to mess with the common stereotypes and turn them on their head, so to speak.

I remember Alan MacGregor. It's been years since I've read that whole MacGregor series but he was a keeper.

I've read a few books by Karen Templeton but can't pull them out of my extremely faulty memory bank. I'll have to give her another try.

Deborah Stein said...

SEP wrote a female president politician although the book isn't whole she is in office. Welcome to Temptation has a mayor hero (Jennifer Crusie).
What I can't think of is a romance hero politician at work but will keep thinking

Janga said...

Q, I never thought about sheriffs as politicians. What a great example! And they can be found in significant numbers in Westerns and in small-town contemporaries. I like your TBI list too. I'll have to start one of those. You know my weakness for lists.

Janga said...

Irish, I love Nora's whole MacGregor series. I'll always be sad that she left Harlequin before she wrote stories for the remaining grandchildren. And I hope you do try Templeton again. I recommend starting with The Doctor's Do-Over.

Janga said...

Deborah, First Lady is one of my favorite SEP books. And how could I forget Crusie's Phin Tucker? He's a marvelous hero. Thanks for reminding us.