|Deuce Winters has no problem with his role as stay-at-home dad, taking care of his precocious and adorable three-year-old daughter Carly while his wife Julianne’s career as a high-powered attorney takes her to her Dallas office every day. The residents of the couple’s hometown of Rose Petal, however, never pass up the opportunity to encourage Deuce in his nonexistent job hunt.
Through it all, Deuce smiles and carries on his duties as a nursery school class father and grocery shops with the best of them. When the body of Benny Barnes is found dead in Deuce’s minivan, police immediately suspect him as Benny caused the end to Deuce’s football career…back in high school many years ago. Deuce has barely spoken to Benny since high school when Benny’s helmet connecting with Deuce’s knee left him severely injured; or since Benny married Deuce’s high school sweetheart, Shayna, whom Deuce has barely thought about since he has married a beautiful woman himself.
Things get a bit out of hand when Deuce accepts an invitation to drink vodka with the grieving widow at ten o’clock in the morning and the mothers of Carly’s nursery school want Deuce impeached from his position as class father. As if there aren’t enough, a wacky character with big hair comes into Deuce’s life, PI Victor Doolittle, all three feet something of him. He helps Deuce sort through all the bad dealings, with women and in business, that Benny had over the past twenty years that caused someone to plunge a knife into his chest and to stuff him in Deuce’s mini-van.
Deuce has plenty of charm to spare and is a fun character who lives in the same small town in which he grew up. He also has plenty of friends and neighbors, most of whom have long memories. Some of the other characters are stereotypical, but Carly is a heartbreaker with a personality all her own and some to spare. The mystery is basically plotted, motives thin, the suspects obvious and the murder wrapped up before readers know it. But Deuce has a wry sense of humor and a good perspective on life, and a gorgeous, very smart wife and an adorable side-kick with a personality all her own.
--Jennifer Monahan Winberry