Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Must Love Babies - Lynnette Austin - Review

This baby's not the only one in need of a cuddle…

Brant Wylder is a bachelor and loving it! He's in Misty Bottoms, Georgia, property-hunting for his vintage car repair shop when he gets the call. His sister's been in an accident, and Brant has to drop everything and take care of his five-month-old nephew. That's the end of the bachelor lifestyle.

Bridal boutique owner Molly Stiles is all business all the time, until she sees that Brant's in trouble. In this Southern town, nobody ever has to go it alone. And besides, how can she resist that beautiful baby in the arms of a beautiful man…?

Molly stood beneath a magnolia tree, her face tipped to catch the moonlight. The breath caught in his throat, and for one fanciful second, Brant imagined a mythical princess or fairy.
He shook his head. The woman was real, and he wanted a dance, wanted to hold her in his arms. A little flirting? Harmless.
Stepping out of the shadows, he made his way to her.
“Beautiful night, huh?”
“Perfect.” Slowly, she turned, a smile on her face.
“How about a dance?”
She hesitated.
“I’m not asking for a lifelong commitment, sugar. Just a single dance under the stars. The night’s made for dancing.”
“It is, isn’t it?”
He caught her hand in his, amazed at its softness against his work-roughened one. “In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not the world’s greatest dancer, but you shouldn’t lose any toes.” He glanced at her sequined stilettos, showcased by her cocktail-length dress. “Don’t know how you even walk in those, let alone put on the miles you do, but I have to say that all mankind is grateful.”
Smiling, Molly peeked at her shoes. “They’re awesome, aren’t they?”
He nodded. “You can dance in them?”
“I could run a marathon in these.”
“Okay, then.” The moon shone through Spanish moss that dripped from the live oaks, forming a lacy pattern on the dewy grass.
Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” played over the sound system. Reaching the dance floor, Brant slid an arm around her waist and drew her in, breathed in her scent. He swung her out and brought her back in one smooth motion, felt her quick laugh in the pit of his stomach. The music slowed when the band segued into John Legend’s “All of Me,” and he drew her close.
Molly fit perfectly in his arms. She lived in Georgia and he in Tennessee, and that made her safe. And if the plans he and his brothers were working on panned out? Still nothing to worry about since she lived in Savannah. When she rested her head against his chest, he wondered if she could hear the rapid thump of his heart. Ms. Molly was hot, hot, hot.
His hand slid a little lower, and without missing a beat, she relocated it to her waist.
Molly smelled of a midnight garden with just a touch of naughty. His body responded, and he willed himself to think about something else. “How’s the city?”
“Savannah?” She shrugged. “I live in Misty Bottoms now. I opened a bridal boutique. Today’s bride was my first.” She grinned, dimples creasing her cheeks.
The dance ended, and he reluctantly released Molly. “I’m driving back to Tennessee tomorrow.”
“Speaking of driving, thanks for taxiing the last of the rehearsal dinner’s partiers home last night. I heard they celebrated pretty hard at Duffy’s.”
“No problem.”
“I need to stop at my car before I go back inside. I left the little silver heart I attach to the bridal gown’s garment bag in my glove box.”
Brant walked beside her in the soft night air, a hand at her elbow, while the band played Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You.”
He lowered his head. “Before we call it a night, I’d love to see the rose garden our friend Cole salvaged.”
“What a mess, but after a lot of hard work it’s incredible again.”
The scent of roses surrounding them, they strolled through the yard. In the silver light of the moon, the flowers glowed and took on an almost magical, fairy-tale illusion. The house shimmered and welcomed, like the true Southern lady she was. Interlacing his fingers with Molly’s, peace enveloped Brant.
They wandered across the expanse of lawn and through the blooms in comfortable silence.
From the parking area, he heard the sound of engines starting, of tires crunching on the long drive. “Looks like it’s about time for lights-out. We’d better head back so you can finish up.”
A slight breeze caused Molly to shiver, and happy for the excuse, Brant wrapped an arm around her and pulled her a little closer, surprised when she didn’t pull away.
Reaching her yellow-and-white Mini Countryman, he made to open her door, then changed his mind, leaned in and gave her a quick kiss, one that should have been impersonal. Friendly. Instead, fire shot through him.
He pulled back, unsure whether he should be relieved or horrified that the expression on her face mirrored his own stampeding feelings. Clearing his throat, he said, “I’m taking care of a few loose ends in the morning, then heading back to Tennessee. And I already said that, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did. The kiss was nice, thanks, but you don’t need to worry. I won’t show up naked at your hotel door.”
His breath caught.
She grinned, and he understood she knew exactly the effect she was having on him.
“I—” His phone vibrated. “Whoops. Sorry, but I’d better take this. My brothers probably forgot something. Organization isn’t their strong suit. If you’ll excuse me.”
“Hello? Dad?” As he spoke, he made his way to a gnarly old oak. His father’s voice was gruff, almost as if he’d been crying. Panic grabbed Brant by the throat. “What’s wrong?

3.5 Stars 
Must love babies is the first title in the Must Love Babies series, and also my first time reading anything written by this author.  Whilst I enjoyed this title it didn't feel like the start of a series and I think I would have gotten lot more from it, if I had read the Magnolia Brides series.  I even stopped reading at one point to check this was the first title in the series, as so many characters were referenced with backstories I had no knowledge of. 

Overall Must Love Babies is a sweet, small town romance with strong themes of family, loyalty, trust and love. 

Brant is a family man, and drops everything to care for his young nephew, despite his lack of knowledge or experience with babies. I enjoyed watching this macho alpha bumble his way through caring for young Jax, even finding myself giggling at his expense. 

Molly the heroine of this tale was another story, I really struggled to connect with her.  She's fiercely independent and driven to make her business a success, which I found admirable and endearing, but then I found her a bit wishy washy and her daddy issues  he reluctance to let anyone in annoyed me

The pace for the first half of this title is quite slow to the point I struggled to keep going, but I'm glad I did because the second half not only the pace but the plot became much more enjoyable and engaging. 

I'm unsure if I will read future titles in the series, but Brant's brothers did capture my attention.  Overall I would have liked a little more heat and steam to make the connection this pair share more believable.