A Better Man
By Candis Terry
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Lucy Diamond loves being a teacher. She is committed to doing her best for her students. That includes addressing the problems of Nicole Kincade, problems that existed before the deaths of her parents and that Lucy believes are deeper than dropping grades. Lucy hopes that her conference with Ryan Kincade will be productive. To her surprise, the Kincade brother who shows up is not Ryan but Jordan with whom Lucy has a history.
It is hardly surprising that Ryan is slow to recognize that Lucy Diamond is none other than Loucinda Nutter, the quiet, brainy tutor whom Jordan persuaded to accept his invitation to the after-graduation dance, only to stand her up. Lucy has changed more than her name since high school, and the most obvious changes are not the most significant. Surviving a childhood with alcoholic parents and a bad marriage have made her much stronger and more confident than the high school student who worked at being invisible, but she hasn’t forgotten the heartbreak of the teenage girl that Jordan left waiting vainly that night.
Although Lucy and Jordan agree to move past their history and work together to help Nicole, the qualities that sparked an attraction between the teenage brain and jock are still there between the teacher and hockey star, an equally unlikely pair. Lucy wants to believe Jordan is just another celebrity with an oversize ego, but his every action challenges that view. Jordan starts out wanting to make amends for that long ago slight, but soon his involvement goes far beyond atonement. Can Lucy trust herself and Jordan enough to risk her heart?
With A Better Man, Candis Terry introduces her new Sunshine Creek Vineyard series. Washington state may be a long way from Texas, but the new series promises the same warmth, wit, and rich family dynamics that made this author’s Sweet, Texas books a hit with many readers. In this first novel, Terry does exactly what a romance author needs to do when beginning a series: she hooks her reader on the world of the series while at the same time offering a compelling romance between the hero and heroine. Washington wine country and the struggles of a family-owned vineyard provide an interesting background, and the Kincade brothers are practically a catalog of favorite hero types. In addition to hockey player Jordan, the brothers include single-father Ryan, the eldest and general manager of Sunshine Creek Vineyard; Declan, Jordan’s fraternal twin and a multimillionaire financier; Parker, a successful chef; and Ethan, a wildlands firefighter. Nicole, Ryan’s nine-year-old daughter Riley, and eccentric Aunt Pippy round out the family. A mystery concerning money missing from the business adds a complication.
Intriguing as the family is, Terry keeps the focus on the second-chance story between her two likeable and humanly flawed leads. Their romance is tender and sexy, and their commitment to helping the troubled Nicole is real. I enjoyed A Better Man, not least because I love the romantic gesture and Jordan makes a grand one that is perfect for this couple. If you are a fan of contemporary romance, you should check this one out right away. It comes with a Janga recommendation. Meanwhile, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Ryan’s story is next.