A Taste of Texas - Liz Talley

This one has a backstory. Lessee...

 

The H was apparently a creeper in earlier books in the series (no; am not hunting them down). He's the younger son of a couple who prized (or at least, the father did) his older brother's athletic prowess and indulged in his waywardness, while mostly tolerating the studious and somewhat whimsical H. Older brother got killed, so H felt it his duty to step into his shoes. In the meantime, he had this friend that he ignored publicly...

 

The h was one of two children to a couple of aging hippies who eschewed responsibility along with authority apparently. Kids spent their formative years bouncing from commune to commune. At some point, the preteen h managed to get herself plopped at her aunt's B&B where she spent the next 6(?) years. The H was her neighbor...and friend - at least in private. He ignored her in school. He also was too busy screwing one of the cheerleaders to attend some sort of recital and hear a poem she'd written for him. So she hand delivered it - as a paperwad, and left town. Oh, of course he was still with the cheerleader when she delivered it.

 

I'm hazy about this but...she was 16 at the time and still a minor, so where exactly did she go? She didn't finish HS; got a GED instead. She married some guy shortly after graduating culinary school, and is now a well-known chef. Her husband died 2 years prior while on the way to either collect their son after karate practice or some competition (confused about that one too). She's a driven workaholic and is discovering, when forced to actually spend time with the kid, that there are holes in his housebreaking.

 

She's staying for some ungodly reason with her aunt, next door to the H, trying not to be attracted to him, trying to keep her son from forming an attachment, etc. I can't really figure out the reason behind this. She knew he lived next door, how did she expect to avoid him, or did that never occur to her?

 

He, genius that he is, encourages the kid's sports obsession over her objections, flirts with her, etc.

 

The aunt tries her own form of manipulations to get them together.

 

And the kid makes me want to drag him by one ear to a room somewhere for a "come to Jesus" moment. He's rude, ill-mannered, disrespectful.

 

Somehow, they wrangle a HEA out of this. Somehow, the H grows a pair and tells his parents in general and his dad in particular to shove it. And I'm just wondering why he sat there, in a carriage house on his parents' property, on a degree in British Lit? Why didn't he push to become a teacher or something? Why the heck didn't he MOVE?