Susan Wiggs, Author . Mira $19.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7783-2167-5

Two unlikely guardians and three orphaned children cobble together a family in this tragicomic novel, in which hardship offers everyone an opportunity for positive growth. Incorrigible playboy and former pro golfer Sean Maguire becomes caretaker for his nephew and nieces—teenager Cameron, third-grader Charlie, baby Ashley—when his brother, Derek, and former Miss Oregon USA sister-in-law Crystal die in a freak accident. Drawn into the maternal role—and ultimately Sean's arms—is fiercely independent teacher Lily Robinson, Crystal's longtime best friend. Sean does his loving best with the grief-stricken children (who also suffered through their parents' divorce the year before), but Cameron, full of anger, takes to vandalism; Charlie, suffering a reading problem, refuses to work at it; and Ashley can talk but isn't toilet trained. Shy of intimacy, Lily keeps her distance from Sean, but the family's need overcomes her reserve, and she gives up a summer vacation in Italy to join Sean and the kids on a cross-country tour for his comeback as a professional golfer. On the road, Lily loosens up, Sean settles down and the children begin to heal. Though the happy ending (plus some inconceivable golf shots) strains credibility, Wiggs offers readers a few hours of escape from their more conventional family lives. Agent, Meg Ruley. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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