False Start: An Assignment: Romance novel
Barbara Valentin, author
Mattie Ross is probably the last person who should be doling out good counsel to anyone on anything. Still smarting after being left at the altar two years earlier, she is strapped with debt, has sworn off men, routinely buries herself in her work and despite her well-proportioned figure, remains haunted by childhood taunts of "Fatty Mattie." But to her publisher at the Chicago Gazette, and readers, she is their latest advice columnist, The Plate Spinner, a self-assured working parent to adorable fake children and multi-tasking savant. Enter Nick Derosa, the twin brother of Mattie's cold-footed fiancé who is trying to get back on his feet after his brother steals his identity and implicates him in an illegal investment scheme. But thanks to Nick's legendary running career, the publisher of the Chicago Gazette proposes a wager: If Nick can train an out-of-shape working parent in time to compete in the Chicago Marathon, he will contribute enough to help Nick launch his own non-profit running club for kids. Suddenly "Fatty" Mattie and Nick are thrust together as the most unlikely of pairs and under a deadline to put their trust issues aside and avoid another false start in their lives.
Valentin launches the Assignment: Romance series with this quick-moving and thoroughly delightful contemporary. Mattie Ross, an advice columnist at the Chicago Gazette, is getting her life back on track after being left at the altar by unscrupulous Eddie DeRosa. She decides it’s time to talk to the newspaper’s publisher, Lester Crenshaw, about a raise. Meanwhile, Lester is meeting with high school athletic coach Nick DeRosa, Eddie’s twin. Eddie almost ruined Nick by stealing his identity and framing him for embezzling. Lester makes Nick a deal: if he trains an unfit adult to run in the Chicago Marathon, Lester will cut Nick a check to get him back on his feet again. When Spandex-clad Maggie walks into Crenshaw’s office to ask for that raise and unwittingly presents herself as the perfect unlikely marathoner-to-be, the story is off and running. Maggie is an appealing protagonist, flawed and struggling with emotional vulnerabilities but determined to press on with her life. Valentin deftly keeps the reader engaged by allowing details of Nick and Mattie’s pasts to gradually come to light; their mutual attraction constantly increases, but consummation is continually thwarted by misunderstandings and plot twists. This is a lighthearted and endearing blend of comedy, drama, and romance. (BookLife)