Elisha Reed is in her late forties and has devoted her life to her work as a senior editor for the publishing company Randolph & Sons. While Elisha had hoped to find love, possibly marriage, and children thereafter, she long ago gave up hopes for such a traditional lifestyle. Her passion lies within her career. Elisha is a skilled editor responsible for a handful of well-known authors, but she gets a run for her money when Ryan Sutherland, a high-profile but seemingly disagreeable author, is given to Elisha. “Given” is probably too gratuitous a term, as Sutherland has essentially chewed up and spit out editor after editor – and Elisha is the best editor that Randolph & Sons has. If Elisha cannot handle Sutherland, no one can. To Elisha’s dismay, “sparks fly” between Sutherland and her and, clearly, an attraction between the two exists – even as they argue over Elisha’s responsibilities regarding Sutherland’s work.
Just as Elisha is testing the editorial waters with Sutherland’s upcoming book (he is reluctant to listen to Elisha’s advice on suggested revisions), Elisha receives devastating news from her beloved brother, Henry. Henry has terminal cancer and due to the fact that his wife passed away several years ago, Henry will be leaving behind his two daughters, Beth and Andrea, who are ten and fifteen years old, respectively. Elisha is heartbroken that Henry is dying, although she readily agrees to take care of the girls after Henry passes.
After Henry’s death, which is a sad but poignant part of the book, Elisha takes over responsibility for the girls as promised. Elisha loves her nieces, but she is unprepared for all that goes into raising two girls who have lost first their mother and then their father. Elisha’s life is turned upside-down as she tries to juggle work life and the care of her nieces. Unfortunately, demanding authors like Sutherland and teenaged antics by Andrea do not make things go smoothly for Elisha. However, Elisha is a strong woman determined to see her responsibilities through – on the home front and at the office. Elisha’s efforts are rewarded in love, career and family as she tackles domestic and professional challenges.
Clearly, Starting From Scratch is the type of book where the journey and not the destination is the enjoyable part of the book. There is a happily-ever-after theme that will appeal to romance fans as there is more of a focus on the budding romance between Elisha and Sutherland than of Elisha’s new role as a guardian to her nieces while juggling her career. The author does a good job of touching on issues of grief, and I enjoyed reading about Henry, who is a likeable character, and his relationship with Elisha and his two daughters. Fans of romance novels and of the NEXT series by Harlequin will enjoy Starting From Scratch.