REVIEW: “A Little Too Late” by Staci Hart

The first thing I’ve got to say about “A Little Too Late” is how beautifully it’s written.  It’s delightfully sprinkled with just lovely turns of phrases.  Staci Hart’s writing is just magical.  This is a single dad – nanny romance but it isn’t hasty nor frantic.  The main characters are cautious, due to past experiences which left them badly burned.  Charlie’s just come out of a horrible marriage; his wife’s more self-serving and narcissistic than he realized.  She cheated on him for two years then immediately left and never attempted to see the children.  Hannah’s a twenty-two year-old from Holland.  She’s basically Mary Poppins – “practically perfect in every way”.  She abruptly left her last job.  She awoke in her bedroom to find her boss with his hand up her nightgown kissing her.  Needless to say she isn’t ready to trust men again.  Until she meets Charlie and his children.

The major error for me is that Staci Hart has Charlie thinking Dean Martin performed in “Singin’ In The Rain”.  It’s actually Gene Kelly.  I can’t believe that factoid went uncorrected by Beta Readers and/or an Editor.  It’s not a huge deal as far as plot goes.  But to a Film Buff it’s a major sin.  Sacrilege.  Sorry.

Charlie is an attorney at a very prestigious and cut-throat law firm which has him working about eighty hour weeks.  His former wife, Mary, is a doctor at a well-known New York City hospital.  While they were married his wife’s sister looked after the children.  Charlie and Mary were all about making money and being successful.

Then he discovered Mary had been having a two year-long affair with his best friend.  Everyone knew and no one told him.  Charlie’s wife left immediately and avoided his calls, texts, and even avoided him when he went to the hospital.  She never showed up for the custody hearing.  Mary seems to want nothing to do with Charlie or her children.  Charlie’s in over his head.  His nanny had to leave and he needs someone to take her place.  He works extremely long hours at least six days a week – for home as well as at the office.  Charlie’s never had to take care of the children.

Hannah quit her previous job because the husband behaved in appropriately.  He seemed to be “taken” with her and his behavior was beyond inappropriate.  Hannah is twenty-two years-old therefore because of her youth she doesn’t report him.  Also this is still a society of he said versus she said.  The man she would be accusing is wealthy and powerful whereas she’s in the country on a work visa.  She has more to lose if she goes up against him.  Plus who would believe her.  She’s apprehensive to work for a single father and is prepared to say no to the job.  However the moment she sees Charlie there’s something trustworthy about him.  Not to mention the children are starved for attention.  Hannah loves children – they truly are her calling and she has a natural gift with them.

The thing about Hannah is that she’s constantly smiling and seems to always be happy.  She has a sixth sense about people and she feels this family needs her.  Charlie also employs an older Cook/Housekeeper who has nothing but good things to say about him.  Katie was hired just after Charlie’s wife left so she saw Charlie at his worst.  However Katie thinks the world of Charlie and immediately sees that Hannah is perfect for the job.  The children take to her immediately.

Charlie hasn’t felt attracted to anyone since he was married and only early into the marriage at that.  There’s something about Hannah that calls to him.  It might be her kindness or happiness but she makes him feel happy.  He hasn’t felt that way in a long time.  However he doesn’t want to be the creepy dad who flirts with the nanny.  But Charlie can’t deny that there’s something there – at least for him.  It’s because of Hannah that he wants to be a better father.  Charlie realizes he’s miserable in his job.  But he’s at a loss as to how to spend time with his children.  He doesn’t know how to bathe them let alone know what bedtime stories they like.  Charlie sees how the children are when they receive attention and he wants to give them more.  He wants to be a bigger part of their lives.

Hannah is happy in her new job and likes Charlie, the children, and Katie.  However one day her former boss runs into her at an odd time and place.  Hannah thinks it’s odd but dismisses it even though her friend also thinks it’s odd.  She doesn’t want to say anything, even to Charlie.  Hannah’s afraid it’s truly just a coincidence or else the man will turn it around on her.  She wants to forget the event and put the past behind her.  Especially since things with Charlie are getting more intense.  She didn’t want to stereotypically get involved with the single father.  However there’s something about Charlie.  He’s kind, sad, vulnerable, and he sincerely wants to be a better father to his children.  That’s hot.

However secrets, lies of omission, doubt, and two not-nice people manage to tear Charlie and Hannah apart.  Mary’s an interesting character.  She accidently gets pregnant and keeps the child without really thinking through all the ramifications.  Then has another child when she feels was her husband slipping away.  Mary might be intriguing but she’s definitely not likable.  Charlie and Hannah’s relationship began out of respect and appreciation.  It then grew into physical affection is destroyed by fear, doubt, and lies.  Hannah is a “runner” and when the going gets tough she runs away.

Staci Hart never states Charlie’s age.  Therefore we aren’t clear on how large or small the age difference is, between Charlie and Hannah.  Charlie’s a different type of Hero; very introspective, self-doubtful, yet sincere and honorable.  Though he does have trust issues.  Hannah’s gentle, kind, happy, and loving; she sings constantly.  She’s actually the leader.  Guiding Charlie in the ways to a happy life.  Hannah tells him that in her homeland, of Holland, business isn’t as all-consuming as it is in the US.  She’s Charlie’s teacher as he gets to know his children and work his way into their lives.  Katie, the housekeeper, is the comic relief and neutral ground.  Hannah’s best friend Lysanne’s also amusing but she’s a seriously tough cookie.  The children, Sammy and Maven, are sweet and funny.  “A Little Too Late” is compelling, charming, sexy, and a straight up sexy read.

I’m giving “A Little Too Late” 4 Lightning Bolts and a Storm Warning.


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