THE BOY NEXT DOOR IS BACK…AND AFTER HER HEART!
He's a "gift" -- a referral from the Matchmaking Mamas -- sent by Tiffany Lee's mother to do her bathroom remodel. But the real surprise is that Tiffany already knows Eddie Montoya. When they were little, he was her playground protector. When they were in college, Eddie was her campus competition. And now she's a teacher and he's her handyman?
Well, just on weekends. On Monday morning, Eddie shows up at Tiffany's school -- as the new third-grade teacher. When a fund-raising contest between classes is announced, the old rivalry heats up. And it's game on! Except as the playful competition intensifies, so do their feelings for each other. And Eddie begins to wonder if they might work better…as a team.
Good book. I loved the prologue and how Eddie and Tiffany met the first time. It really showed what a terrific guy Eddie was from the very beginning. That was followed by Tiffany's mother's visit with Theresa and the request for her matchmaking assistance. I always enjoys seeing the ways that Theresa and her friends bring people together.
Tiffany is a hardworking fifth grade teacher who has been burned by love once. She is determined not to let it happen again, so she simply avoids relationships. It seems to have made her rather cynical about men in general. She claims to be content with her friends, her job and her kids at school. She's super-competitive, and many of her reactions seem to be about her and how they affect what she wants.
Eddie is also a teacher, one who has been out of work. He works as a handyman to make ends meet while waiting to get another teaching job. Theresa has recommended him for a remodeling job. He lets her know up front that he has just gotten a teaching job, so his handyman work will be on weekends only. He comes across immediately as a really nice guy, honest and honorable. He's terrific with the kids in his class. It's obvious that they love and respect him. I loved his stories about growing up with sisters and the effect they've had on his life.
When he first arrives at Tiffany's house to do the work, she is still sound asleep, and not pleased to be awakened. She's not very nice to Eddie, though she feels a certain pull toward him. I admit, if I was expecting a handyman, I would have made sure I was up and dressed, and definitely would not have gone back to bed while he was in my house. That was definitely a little strange. Her attitude toward him didn't really improve once she really woke up. Eddie remembers Tiffany from college too, and the fact that they were always at odds. Nothing has really changed as far as that goes. By the time he leaves on Sunday, he's still as attracted to her as he was then. Meanwhile, Tiffany can't figure out why he gets under her skin the way he does and is trying desperately to get him out of her mind.
That chance goes out the window on Monday when she discovers that he's the replacement teacher for one that had her baby early. Now there's no way to avoid seeing him. It was interesting to see her reaction when she realized that she knows him from the past. She acts like he deliberately tried to trick her, but if I were him, I wouldn't have said anything either. She's pretty rude to him, but he's never rude back. There may be a little softening when he comes to finish the bathroom remodel, but she's still fighting the attraction tooth and nail. I really loved how he knew her well enough that he expected her to cancel their dinner date, and came prepared with a rather inventive response. The sparks finally come to the point where they burst into flame. Even then, Tiffany wonders what she's gotten herself into, but Eddie seems to know just how to calm her fears.
The school competition was a pretty cool thing. I loved the way that they got the kids involved in helping the shelter. Once again, Tiffany's competitive nature kicked in, and she was determined that her class would beat Eddie's. Didn't seem to matter to her that there was an age difference of two years. I was happy to see that she tried to emphasize the reason and the goal, rather than winning to the kids. I had a feeling that the result would be what it was. It was really fun to see Tiffany and Eddie forced to work together at the picnic. I loved how Eddie was so up-beat and positive, able to come up with terrific solutions to the problems they encountered. It was really great to see Tiffany start to realize that Eddie really was a nice guy.
I really liked the ending. The revelation of the picture and the story behind it was sweet and romantic. I loved the epilogue, with Theresa and the others congratulating themselves on another successful match. I also loved the way the kids from their classes were included in the wedding.