Love Walks In
I worry about too cute-meets as they often lead to over-the-top storylines. So when our hero first spots the heroine – or more accurately gets a view of her sexy backside as she’s breaking into his office through a window – I didn’t hold out much hope. Fortunately, while there is a rather convoluted plot line to keep the heroine and hero connected, the author sells it by creating an appealing central couple. While both characters seem a bit frivolous at first, they turn out to have depth as well as interesting backstories. I thoroughly enjoyed Love Walks In, the second in the author’s Shaughnessy Brothers series, and look forward to future entries.
Hugh Shaughnessy’s life changed forever when he was in high school after his mother died in a car accident. She was a stickler for rules and schedules for her six children, and when a rebellious Hugh failed to return on time she took away his driving privileges. Hugh was furious, and when his mother needed to run an errand during a rainstorm – something Hugh would normally volunteer to do – he instead spoke sharply to her, little knowing that it would be the last time he would ever speak to her. When she died on that drive, Hugh changed from a slightly rebellious teenager to a predictable, never-changing, stickler for rules.
Seventeen years later and Hugh is the owner of a successful chain of boutique resorts, but is still obsessed with rules and schedules. He’s often disappointed when his employees don’t live the ordered, predictable lives he’d like, and his obsession goes to such extremes as picking up litter on the grounds, or handling the stray, abandoned pink suitcase. And it’s that pink suitcase that leads him to Aubrey Burke. Or more accurately, Hugh encounters Aubrey’s spectacular backside as she’s climbing through a window to get into the office at his Napa resort.
Aubrey is the owner of that abandoned suitcase, and she wants it back. The pair has an amusing encounter in Hugh’s office where we learn that Aubrey is a runaway bride and has abandoned her fiancé at the resort. Hugh is attracted to Aubrey from the first, but has business on his mind and sends her away figuring he won’t see her again. But through a completely convoluted series of events, Aubrey ends up working for him.
Hugh is trying to land a deal with a major wine supplier, who’s reported to be unconventional. Aubrey meets the supplier before leaving the resort, the two hit it off and begin bouncing ideas off each other. The supplier likes Aubrey so much he makes a condition of the deal with Hugh that Aubrey is hired to manage the entire campaign.
Combine her unlikely hiring with their original “meet-cute”, and I was nervous about what was to follow. Fortunately, I was quickly engrossed in the story, and more importantly, interested in both Hugh and Aubrey as characters. Both of their personalities – as well as some major differences – are revealed as we see them work together.
Hugh is a truly interesting and likeable character. At heart he’s a very nice man, but is obsessive about every aspect of his life, right down to eating the same foods for dinner each night of the week as his mother served when they were children. We know that Aubrey has issues with her parents, but when she opens up to Hugh about the extent of those problems I was surprised, and felt genuinely sorry for her. Aubrey has led a sheltered life, but begins to break free through her job. I like that the eventual roadblocks in Hugh and Aubrey’s relationship spring from their personalities and not from an external source. Given each of their backstories, the way their romance evolves feels completely natural.
While this is the second in a series, Love Walks In worked for me as a standalone. Hugh has a lot of siblings, and most of them eventually make appearances here, but Ms. Chase made their interactions feel like normal family ones, without huge information dumps. I truly enjoyed the book, and particularly liked both Hugh and Aubrey. I’ll keep an eye out for future titles in the series, particularly the one featuring Hugh’s scientist brother.