May Contain Spoilers
I couldn’t resist the combination of a small town and a veterinarian hero. Plus, Can’t Stop Lovin’ You features a second chance at love trope, and you all know how much I love those! I enjoyed this book, though I thought there were a few pacing issues near the middle that kept it from getting a higher grade. I really liked Brawley, the contrite hero, but I wondered if he would be able to convince Maggie that he deserved a second chance.
Maggie Sullivan is flying high, thanks to her friend Annie. She designed Annie’s wedding dress, and after the heiress is seen in her gown, Maggie’s dreams of producing her own line of fashionable clothing takes flight. With an investor and a show looming on the horizon, though, she doesn’t have time to revisit the regrets of her youth. When Brawley Odell moves back to town to start his vet practice, she has to face her inner demons. Can she forgive Brawley for dumping her, and can she forgive herself for not being able to put him in the past?
Ah, poor Maggie! She and Brawley had been together forever, so she naturally assumed that after college, they would get married and start a family. When Brawley coldly dumps her on a visit home from college, she’s broken hearted. Every dream she had rested on his broad shoulders, and after he unceremoniously broke up with her, it took her a while to move on. I’m going to say she never did get to move on. Brawley was her world, and she was crushed when he left her.
Brawley moves back to town just as Maggie is finally getting her life back on track. She’s about to move to NYC, she has a hot career as a fashion designer ahead of her, and she’s excited to start this new chapter. Then she see Brawley and her hard earned composure is threatened. Worse, this Brawley wants another chance, but Maggie’s afraid to give it to him. He walked away so casually before and it almost destroyed her. She has a lot more riding on the line now, and she’s not about to trust Brawly and have all of her hard work derailed.
I liked all of the characters, even the secondary ones, except for Brawley’s dad. He has a bit of animosity towards Maggie, and it’s never really explained. Sure, he was afraid that she would hold Brawley back when they were younger, but they are both adults now, so I didn’t understand his attitude towards her. It left me puzzled, and it left me not liking him. At all.
Brawley tries so hard to get Maggie to give him a second chance, but she shoots him down at every opportunity. I can’t say that I blamed her. Brawley broke up with her so they could both pursue their dreams, thinking that they would get back together later and settle down together. Only life kept getting in the way, and nothing turned out the way he thought it would. He lived in the city for 10 years before circumstances allowed him to take over a vet practice back home. Maggie’s life veered off course – after he left her grandmother died, and she moved in with her grandfather, giving up her plans to go to college. A lucky break gave her the chance to make her dreams come true, and she’s determined to follow them and see where they lead her. She’s got a career and an apartment lined up in New York City, and she’s not giving that up for anybody, not even Brawley.
Brawley realized that he made a huge mistake, and he was kicking himself for throwing away the love of his life. He took Maggie for granted, and assumed that when he was ready for her, she would be ready for him. What he didn’t realize was that he was abandoning her when she needed him the most. By doing so, he left her with a terrible secret and a terrible burden, one that didn’t allow her to simply forgive and forget. It cast a pall over every future interaction with Brawley, and he wasn’t aware of it until near the very end of the book. Then he had something else to regret.
I thought the action got a little slow about three-quarters through the book, and if I hadn’t enjoyed the interaction between Brawley and Maggie so much, it would have been harder to keep flipping the pages. The introduction of a rival for Brawley’s affections wasn’t convincing, either, though things got back on track for me right after Maggie returned home to Texas.
Can’t Stop Lovin’ You is a sweet romance, and the physical encounters were very tame, which was a nice change of pace from some of the romances that I’ve been reading lately. The sex scenes in some recent reads felt more like filler than a vital part of the story, so the lack of descriptive bedroom scenes didn’t disappoint me, though I’ll give fair warning in case you are looking for a racier read.
Review copy provided by publisher
About the book:
CAN’T STOP LOVIN’ YOU pits handsome, cantankerous veterinarian Brawley Odell against hometown girl Maggie Sullivan. When asked to design heiress Annelise Montjoy’s wedding gown, Maggie views it as her golden ticket out of Maverick Junction. At every turn, though, she bumps into Brawley, her high school sweetheart. He’d left her for college and a career in Dallas. But, now, country right down to the tips of his cowboy boots, he’s returned to take over old Doc Gibson’s practice while Maggie longs to escape to New York City’s fashion district. Brawley’s never stopped loving Maggie. Can he talk her into hanging around long enough to give him a second chance? Long enough to talk her into designing a dress for her own wedding-to him?
About Lynnette Austin
Lynnette Hallberg grew up in Pennsylvania’s Alleghany Mountains, moved to New York, then to the Rockies in Wyoming. Presently she, her husband, and her Siamese cat divide their time between Naples, Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. She has a Master’s in Educational Leadership and taught middle school language arts before leaving it to write full-time. A lover of books, Lynnette loves to read and write and loves nothing better than to lose herself in her characters’ world. Besides reading and writing, she loves to travel. She’s visited all fifty states with the exception of Alaska. She’s traveled extensively throughout Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa, and Central America—always on the lookout for new characters or a new story.
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Author website: http://www.lynnettehallberg.com/
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