From ROMANTIC TIMES, November 2008:

“Shelton’s warm, sentimental love story is told with a tenderness of heart and a nurturing eye guiding complexly drawn characters. She effortlessly melds love and loss with heartrending care, exposing the layers of a budding romance with a deft hand. It’s full of humor, flaws, and a togetherness of spirit fit for any modern love story where family is what you make it.”


Journalist Shelton’s poignant third novel (after What Comes After Crazy) elevates the oft-told stories of opposites attracting and sons struggling against their fathers. The residents of Chester, Conn., assumed that 60-something Harris Goddard was up to his old womanizing ways when single mother Jamie McClintock and her five-year-old son, Arley, moved in with him and his five-year-old grandson, Christopher. Though Harris and Jamie’s affections are purely platonic, the rumor mill begins to churn when Harris dies and is discovered naked in Jamie’s bed. Everyone is suspicious of her, including Nate Goddard, Christopher’s father, who shows up to finally claim his son with plans to sell Harris’s house and take his grieving son on the road with him. As Nate tries to put his plan into play, the surprising Goddard family backstory unwinds and Jamie, also wracked with pain, finds herself attracted to Nate and vice versa. An absolute treat, Shelton’s work rarely falters and is filled with realistic twists, complex characters and a moving conclusion. (Nov.)


Bending the rules to play the game of love
By Karen Ann Cullotta

In Kissing Games of the World, single
mother Jamie McClintock has neither the
desire nor the time for romance. After all,
motherhood under the best of circumstances
can be overwhelming, and for novelist
Sandi Kahn Shelton’s latest heroine, an
already precarious life caring for her asthmatic
son and struggling to pay the bills is
thrown off-kilter by the sudden death of
her beloved elderly landlord.
When the late landlord’s estranged son
Nate arrives in town to settle his father’s affairs,
Jamie discovers that the spirited old
gentleman devoted to raising his young
grandson was actually a philandering,
deadbeat dad in his day. At least, according
to Nate, a widower whose late wife’s accident
left him bereft and entirely incapable
of caring for the boy. Now, Nate is reeling
from the loss of a father whose transgressions
he never forgave, and terrified by the
prospect of raising a son he barely knows.
In Shelton’s capable literary hands, this is
not merely a romantic tale, but also a credible
story of a man determined not to let
his family’s grim history repeat itself. Nate
is charming and charismatic, but he can
be pathologically insensitive and self-absorbed,
too. And Jamie—an artist, whom
Nate at first mistakenly assumes was one of
his dad’s lovers—is not just another pretty
face to be seduced and promptly discarded.
Of course, it’s not long before Jamie’s defensive
self-preservation and Nate’s blustery
bravado crumble under the laws of attraction.
Nonetheless, passion is not enough
to mend a pair of broken hearts suffering
from major trust issues. Shelton’s greatest
talent is a gift for juxtaposing comedy and
tragedy to the pulsing beat of the modernday
mating dance. One moment the reader
is laughing out loud at Nate’s unconven
tional parenting practices, and seconds later,
nearly weeping as Jamie searches frantically
for an asthma inhaler that can save her
wheezing son’s life.
As the novel reaches its denouement,
Jamie and Nate will seem like old friends,
beloved despite, or maybe because of, their
idiosyncratic personalities. Kissing games,
like literature, rely on rules that are meant to
be bent but not broken. The same holds true
for Shelton’s novel, which allows a hopeful
ending to unfold gracefully.

Praise For Kissing Games of the World

Kissing Games of the World has the shape of a classic romance, in which opposites at first repel, then attract, and after many ups and downs find love. It’s been done countless times, but rarely as engagingly as Shelton does it in this novel.”
The Boston Globe

“Quite wonderful. . . . Like Anne Tyler, Shelton seems to possess a nearly boundless capacity for empathy. She has the ability to make us love her characters for their faults, not in spite of them.”
Connecticut Post

“Shelton’s third novel is an engrossing, charming, and often funny exploration of love and relationships that result…the author [explores] love in its different incarnations.”
Library Journal, starred review

“An absolute treat, Shelton’s work rarely falters and is filled with realistic twists, complex characters and a moving conclusion.”
Publisher Weekly

“[A]s the seemingly star-crossed lovers navigate their rocky path, with children in tow, they eventually discover their true destination, their true home.”

“Sexy hero, lovable heroine, adorable kids–Kissing Games of the World has it all. A complete delight. Fall into this buoyant, funny, genuinely touching story of two incomplete people finding the rest of themselves in each other. I loved it.”
—Patricia Gaffney, New York Times bestselling author of Mad Dash

“Shelton’s greatest talent is a gift for juxtaposing comedy and tragedy to the pulsing beat of the modern-day mating dance.”

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