Daisy's Back in Town
Rachel Gibson is one of my very few auto-buy authors and I grabbed her new book to read as soon as my pre-ordered copy arrived in the mail.
Daisy’s Back in Town is a book that is built around a couple of romance novel clichés. Let’s get those out of the way. This is a secret baby book, and it does involve a return to a small town. Daisy Monroe left Lovett, Texas fifteen years ago when she was eighteen and pregnant. The father of her baby, Jackson Parrish, had just lost both of his parents in an automobile accident, and as a result, their relationship was under a lot of strain. Daisy, unsure of what to do, panicked and turned to her best friend Steven (who was unfortunately Jack’s best friend as well). Steven asked her to marry him, knowing about the baby, and they both immediately got the heck out of Dodge.
It is at this point that the story also sidesteps a romance cliché. Daisy had a very happy marriage with Steven, and he treated her son Nathan like his own. But several years before the story begins, Steven is diagnosed with brain cancer and eventually dies. Before his demise, he requests that Daisy go back to Lovett and tell Jack about his son. They both feel terrible that they have kept this secret for so long, and Steven wants to make things right. So Daisy goes home to see the man who always drove her crazy with lust and frustration, the boy who took her virginity and her heart, the man who is now wealthy and eligible and still completely hot. This is the guy to whom she has to confess the worst thing she has ever done. And she has no hope that he will forgive her.
This is a secret baby book, and the heroine is returning to her small hometown in Texas. This might bother some readers who don’t enjoy those themes. They did not bother me. As you might expect, Daisy’s return causes some fireworks to go off. Jack doesn’t exactly welcome her with open arms; he’s still feeling her betrayal like it was yesterday. Still, their interchanges spark with sexual tension and occasional tenderness. And there are a number of playful moments.
Gibson’s style of writing is quick and humorous and filled with pop culture references that serve as both joke fodder and concrete description. She does very well with showing her characters’ feelings, instead of taking the easier lay-all-the-emotions-out-in-dull-prose method. She is just about the only author I let pass with the mental lusting, and that’s because her characters aren’t just thinking in slot-tab directions, they are noticing critical things about each other in the midst of all the desire. The story has a secondary plot here involving Daisy’s sister Lily. Lily is in the middle of a breakdown because her husband just left her and her small son. Her sub-plot gave the story additional depth as it allowed Daisy to witness firsthand the emotional devastation of this kind of betrayal (and, therefore, put herself into Jack’s shoes more easily). It was a nice piece of story mirroring.
Some may find Jackson to be a first-rate jerk, but not me. Jack couldn’t even apply to the Alpha Jerk Club without Christian de Rivers, Sebastian Verlaine, Myles Dampier, and Sheridan Drake laughing in his face. Jack’s feelings toward Daisy and Steven are legitimate, even if they are fifteen years old. This is a man to whom family means a lot. A son is a big deal to him; he would have wanted to be involved with Nathan. And even though he is angry and bitter, he’s never abusive to either Daisy or Nathan. He takes his new-found responsibilities as a father seriously. The book’s main flaw, in my mind, is how he manages to get over the hump of his anger. It seemed a bit out of character.
Daisy’s Back in Town isn’t a new type of romance novel, and it isn’t even strikingly different from some of Gibson’s other books. But Gibson’s story universe is a funny, comfy, relaxed place to be, and I’ll take any opportunity I can to visit it. I like her brand of humor and sensuality, and her guys (alpha jerks or not) are to die for. This book is definitely worth reading.