The Nanny
by Judith Stacy, historical (2001)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29161-2

For a moment there I actually think that The Nanny is going to be one of those books that will actually retell rather than regurgitate an old formulaic plot. The first few chapters are very cute, the presence of four kids and a plot lifted right out of The Sound Of Music notwithstanding.

It's about this new girl in the town of Tyler, Annie Martin, who works as some sort of gardener in the house of the richest rancher in town, Josh Ingall. What she can't stand is that baby crying day and night. Doesnt anyone take care of the baby? Josh is a widower, but surely he can replace that nanny who ran away screaming recently?

When the kids play a prank on her, however, she's had it. She decides to nominate herself as Josh's nanny, and to her surprise, he agrees. Until he tells her she has to live in the house in the company of three monsters and a demon baby and she starts having second thoughts. Josh, however, is enough bonus for her to stay on.

At first glance, Josh seems like a Von Trapp clone, fair enough - he is one after all. Annie, however, seems like an intelligent girl with actually human feelings and instincts. Any lass who decides that Josh may be handsome, but no way is she wanting that man, not with those monsters in tow - that's actually pretty intelligent of her, I must say. The kids are quite cute too (don't quote me please) and I like how they and Annie interact. Those are quite Kodak moments.

But as the story moves on, it starts to plod and gets this "tick the list item" feel to it. Annie starts taking on the burdens of the world, her relationship with Josh starts taking on this by-the-book feel (kiss - check, he says he's sorry and she thinks he's really sorry - check, she sees his naked torso while he is asleep - check), and my enthusiasm for this story plummet like an anchor. And by the last few pages when Josh admits that he doesn't love his dead first wife (poor, poor woman - she died for nothing), it is Annie he loves one and forever, The Nanny has been totally put through the blender, mixed with too many trite plot elements, and squeezed dry of anything even slightly inventive. What a waste indeed. Just when I was thinking... oh never mind.

Rating: 71

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