Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney is the third book in the Clayburn Novels Series. On Thanksgiving, Doug DeVore lost his wife Kaye, and their daughter Rachel, leaving him to care for five children on his own. Mickey Valdez loves running her day care center, because she's always wanted children of her own, so helping out with the DeVore children comes naturally. But sparks start to fly between the new widower and Mickey. Raney has a true gift for writing about families and the strong feelings that come with relationships, and this novel is a great example of this. Mickey wants so much to have a family, and when Doug shows an interest in her, she can't help but fall in love with the handsome family man. Doug has a huge hole inside of his heart and he feels lost without Kaye, but Mickey makes him feel alive again, and she's so good with his children, he convinces himself that he's in love with her as well. They leap into an ill-timed marriage, and then things really start to fall apart. Raney captures all of the heartbreak and angst of a blended family. When Mickey moves some of her things into the house, and the children feel betrayed by the replacement of their mother. Raney always shows, never tells, and she allows the story to tell itself without forcing an unrealistic ending. This isn't your usual romance; Raney's storytelling elevates it to something richer and deeper. I couldn't put it down.
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