Caught Looking by Jody Holford
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
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Major league baseball player, Ryan Walker, takes a mandatory leave of absence to escape the paparazzi and the false drug charges against him. All he wants is a little peace of mind out in the middle of nowhere.
Eager to rid herself of the empty socialite life, Frankie Vaughn moves to a rundown home in Minnesota that she inherited from her aunt. But Frankie is shocked at what she discovers inside: three young boys. When Ryan discovers that Frankie, his new neighbor, has taken on the three homeless kids as her own, he has a new hope for humanity.
Despite how easily and lovingly Ryan takes to Frankie and the boys, his past just might be the reason Frankie can't adopt the boys. Now, Ryan must choose between loving them or letting them go. Can he walk away from what he's been looking for all along?
Moving from the Hamptons to a run-down house in Minnesota wouldn’t normally be considered an adventure but that’s exactly how Frankie Vaughn’s looking at it. She is sick of the “pretty on the outside, shallow on the inside” mentality of the Hamptons so when her aunt dies she tells her father she wants to take over her house. Since he was planning on just selling it, he agrees.
Frankie moves to West Lake, Minnesota with the thought to rehab the house. When she arrives she’s a bit overwhelmed with how run-down it’s become but she’s determined. When she first enters the house all is well but then she starts to hear noises. She thinks she’s going to find a cat in the bedroom closet but what she discovers is 3 young boys – brothers, Carter, Travis and Miles, who have been living in the house since her aunt died. They had actually been homeless and were taken in by Frankie’s aunt and had just continued to live in her house after she died. Frankie knows she should call the police or social services right away but the little one who is just 8 is horribly sick and she can’t send him out that way. Of course the longer the boys stay the more attached that Frankie gets and soon she doesn’t ever want them to leave.
Ryan meets Frankie the first day she arrives and is a bit of a jerk (cuz he’s attracted to her and doesn’t want to be). He mellows out eventually and when he sees that Frankie is caring for the boys he actually helps out in his own way. He’s incredibly attracted to Frankie but knows he shouldn’t get involved with her for a variety of reasons. Those reasons eventually fall by the wayside and Ryan and Frankie soon start a wonderful relationship. Unfortunately when it comes to the boys staying with Frankie permanently, Ryan’s presence, and his past, may be the reason she that doesn’t happen.
When I read the blurb for this book I was intrigued. If there are children in a book they usually belong to either the hero or the heroine biologically. In this case Frankie kind of inherited them along with the house. She was amazingly big-hearted and not only let them stay but took care of the youngest throughout his sickness. She kept telling herself that she was going to call social services but never did. She knew that not putting them in the foster care system was bad but Carter, the oldest at 16 years old, insisted that they would be separated if they were in the system. Frankie couldn’t stand that thought. I loved that she considered what would happen to the boys and how that would affect them. She was such a good person and I just adored her character.
Ryan had his issues from his cheating ex-wife and his ex-best friend who had not only slept with his wife but had made false drug charges against him. He just wanted to be left alone except when it came to Frankie. I loved that he couldn’t stay away and once their relationship started it was not only fun and loving but something I knew would last. He was a great man and cared about the three boys almost as much as Frankie did. He was a fantastic influence on them as well.
The story of the three boys and Frankie’s role in their life was a huge part of the book but the romance was just as big and the two were wonderfully intertwined. Holford did a fantastic job of dragging me into the story from the first page and not letting go. I read this in one sitting and didn’t want it to end.
My only issues with the book were strange editing issues as well as some words that threw me out of the story. The book takes place in Minnesota with American characters but some of the words that were used to describe things were clearly Canadian or British. Social Services was called the ministry – that threw me for a loop. I live in California and for schools there are certain service areas. These are the group of homes that go to a certain school within the district. In this book it was called a catchment. Same idea but definitely a British word that I had to stop and look up which again, threw me out of the book. These are minor issues but when I’m totally into a book I don’t want to stop and think “what does that mean?” This is, of course, just me and may not affect other people the same way.
Despite those minor issues I liked the book a lot. It has a pretty deep story but it was still fun, humorous, and extremely enjoyable. I definitely recommend you pick this one up. This is my first read by Holford but it certainly won’t be my last.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5