Hot Mess by Anne Conley


 Sam is a single dad, trying to get over the death of his ex-wife, and help his daughter move on from the loss of her mother.

Rachel is a single mom with a secret of her own that has kept her out of the dating scene for years.

What happens when this drop-dead gorgeous firefighter moves in across the street from the reticent woman with a past?

Sparks fly as the heat level rises in this new novel of Serendipity.

I met Anne at a recent signing in Houston.  I watched how she interacted with her readers and other authors and was impressed with her compassion and interest she showed them.  As it turned out we were staying at the same hotel and I would run into her off and on and we would chat, she was always engaging and friendly.  She offered to send me a book for a review and I happily agreed.  I allowed her to pick the one she wanted me to read which is how I read Hot Mess.  Now I say all of this to you because what comes next just proves how I observed her at the signing.  This author clearly has a level of understanding and compassion that can’t be faked.  She takes the story of Rachel and Sam, adds two little girls and creates a story of realism, passion, heart break and genuine fear that we have in life and weaved it into a story that should be read by everyone.
The synopsis tells you about the story, I have just told you how I feel about the author so let me talk now about the characters.  Rachel is a single mother to a sweet little girl Sophie.  She is a dedicated mother who works from home and makes sure she is at all of the daughters school functions.  She writes for a blog and you will see her blog posts at the beginning of chapters.  She makes home cooked meals, sanitizes the home, teachers her daughter right from wrong and lends a helping hand where ever she can, but she is isolated.  Never reaching out to meet new people she is thrilled when someone moves next door that has a child Sophie’s age.
Sam recently moved to Serendipity Texas with is ten year old daughter Amanda.  He is a sexy firefighter who needed to start over after the death of his wife.  Amanda is struggling with depression and a few other issues that come with a child losing a parent.  He hopes that once he is settled and his daughter is comfortable in her new school, things will start looking up for them.  Not ever being domestic, he is struggling to learn how to not only be a single parent but a mom to his little girl.  He hired a woman to watch Amanda while he is on shift and she appears to want to make this a cozy little family but he has other ideas.  His heart is reaching out to Rachel.
This is where the author’s compassion and brilliance shines.  So far you are thinking this is a normal love story of two single parents, but you are in for a tissue filled ride.  Rachel is fighting a disease that could kill her, if society doesn’t find out first and destroy her.  She is going to struggle with how much she wants and needs Sam versus trusting him to know the truth about her.  Sam should be able to handle the truth, he is a firefighter and he faces devastation every day, but how can she ask him to invest his heart in another woman who might leave him due to death?  Their
lives will never be normal, there will be doctor’s appointment, and pill holders will be full and the risk of death shadowing their every minute.  How can she do this to him, but how can she deny him the first chance at love after losing his wife, especially when she feels the same way?
Anne took a very serious topic and never twisted it to sell the book or make the story work.  She kept it real and made the situation work around the disease just as people with this do every single day.  While we wanted them to find romance, Rachel wanted to do the right thing.  The way Anne dealt with the children and their grief was also a very sensitive situation that I feel she handled with grace and tact.  Yes I gave this book five stars not only for the plot and message it sends out, but I feel it deserves it for the manner in which the author dealt with the topics and showed the respect that is deserved to those in this real life situation.  I highly recommend this book to everyone.  You won’t find a bunch of sex, you won’t be embarrassed to be caught reading it.  It might even open your eyes to what you can do to help stop the shame that goes along with the diagnosis and see the hero that these people can be by surviving.