Kate St. James is in her forties and recently married for the first time. Her husband, Paul, has two children - his daughter, Neve, who is in eighth grade, and his son PJ, who is in third grade. The kidsí mother and Paulís first wife, Heather, died from an aggressive cancer and now Paul and the kids are starting a new life with Kate. After their motherís death, Paul sent the kids away to a private boarding school, thinking that was the best environment for Neve and PJ to be in.
Kate is still in the honeymoon stage of marriage when her life is turned upside-down. A corporate oversight lands Paul in federal prison, and it will be several months until he gets out. Due to lack of income since Paul is jobless and in prison, the kids are pulled from their private boarding school and come home to attend public school. Now Kate has to take the reins as parent to these two children - and she has no parenting experience whatsoever. Kate excels at her job and in other areas of life, but she does not know how to care for Neve and PJ. Understandably, the kids are also bewildered as they adjust to the fact that their father is sitting in prison and that they now have to make friends at a new school.
Now that Kate has become an instant mother, she slowly befriends her sister-in-law, Lily, who was Heatherís sister. Lily has four children of her own, and she knows how to pinch pennies and keep her kids in line. At first, Kate canít connect with Lily, but they reach a common ground after Kate becomes a full-time single parent. An instance where PJ gets lost in a store and Lily organizes a search party is just one example of Lily helping Kate out. Lily is also there for Kate on more than one occasion concerning Neve, and she always provides a listening ear.
PJ is a sweet, agreeable young boy, and Kate has no problems with him - except for her difficulty with the ďsoccer momsĒ and their bake sales. Kate canít bake, much less cook. Neve, however, is a different story. Neve is not a bad girl, but she is thirteen years old, and she is having a hard time adjusting to her new life. She has a lot on her plate and, as a typical teenager, she gets moody at times. Neve tests Kateís patience and sanity on more than a few occasions.
Motherhood Without Parole has a straightforward plot, but that does not make this an uninteresting read. The characters are well-developed, and reading about Kateís challenges as a single stepparent made the book a page-turner for me. The story also features a couple of Kateís girlfriends and some snooty women from the local country club, which adds interest to the overall narrative. Fans of womenís fiction will enjoy Motherhood Without Parole.