Title: Somebody’s Baby
Author: Donna Alward
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: April 2017
Length: 304 pages
Series?: Darling, VT #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Veterinarian Rory Gallagher chose a different path from his brothers, both of whom became first responders in the lovely little town of Darling, Vermont. Rory’s always had an affinity for animals and the ladies. Known for his impressive track record in breaking hearts, Rory never meant to hurt anyone; he s just never been in a hurry to settle down. It’s not as if he needs to pay a visit to the town s famed Kissing Bridge to magically find love. He’ll know The One when he sees her. . .right?
Oaklee Ferguson is the kid sister of Rory’s best friend and, even now that she’s all grown up, remains immune to the pet-doctor’s charms. When she shows up at Rory’s clinic late one night devastated after hitting a stray dog with her car, Rory’s so-called bedroom eyes are the last thing on her mind. Still, his care and kindness toward the dog, and his concern for her feelings, catches Oaklee by surprise. . .and soon the two (and rescued dog makes three!) begin to share a deep connection that neither could have ever imagined. Could it be that love has been waiting for them by the bridge all along?
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Oaklee returns to her hometown of Darling to join the city council in promoting tourism. She knocked it out the the park re-creating the town’s iconic photo of Aiden Gallagher kissing Laurel Stone on the Kissing Bridge when they were just five years old, re-branding the city’s entire marketing campaign. Despite the fast-paced life she leads, and the jillions of people she interacts with on a daily basis, whether in person or online through Twitter, Oaklee is hiding her loneliness from everyone, even herself.
Which is exactly what she is doing one night when she hits a dog. Frantically, she gets it in her car and takes it to the vet clinic, where Rory Gallagher works and lives. While Oaklee feels massive guilt, she is stuck footing the larger than expected bill for the dog with a broken leg, named Buster by the clinic. Then Rory up and pushes her into fostering the thing. She’s never had a dog in her life!
Just like with his brother and his wife, Rory has a history with Oaklee. Cam, Oaklee’s now-famous hockey star older brother, was Rory’s best friend growing up. After Cam went all famous, Rory was tasked with looking out for Oaklee until she went off to college.
Now they are both back home, both working in their small town, and both trying to make a go at adult life. There’s just one problem: they are both keeping the truth – their truths – a secret from every single person they know.
Oaklee – 23 year old city council socialite and younger sister of a famous hockey player
Rory – 26 year old vet at the local clinic; a serial first-date-is-the-last-date kind of guy
Hannah – Rory’s sister who gets all nosy up in Rory’s personal business; Oaklee’s friend
Buster – the dog Oaklee hits and then Rory convinces her to foster
So close now…her eyes drifted closed, waiting for that first touch of his mouth on hers.
Instead his lips touched her forehead. She froze in place, both from surprise and dismay. A kiss on the forehead was what you gave a sister or a friend. She’d been moving in and he’d just friend zoned her big-time.
The Highs and Lows
- Animals. Let’s be real, here. Animals are always the way to win over the hearts of readers, and Rory Gallagher has them in spades. Buster is an adorable dog, and he fills the holes in Oaklee’s life. When reading about how he wanted to be in bed with her the first night after fostering him, it reminded me so much of my own dog, Baby, whom has slept with me since she came home. I could see the same way Baby does when she wants to crawl in bed in Buster, and it brought a smile to my face.
- Emotional Baggage. Both Rory and Oaklee carried such emotional baggage. I could understand both of their pasts and the pain and fear it puts you in to try again at love, but neither of them ever told anyone what happened. NO ONE. That seemed so unrealistic to me. NEITHER of them told ANYONE. That is very uncharacteristic of human nature. They are both choosing to hide behind their pasts, despite their feelings for one another.
- Oaklee’s Loneliness. Due to Oaklee’s baggage, she doesn’t allow anyone in. That’s why she has a messy car and an apartment that sets off Rory’s OCD like nobody’s business. It’s why Rory pretty much offs Buster onto Oaklee, so she wouldn’t be lonely. He sees it as just an outsider and wants her to have some companionship, but Oaklee has to come to terms with it herself: she keeps her apartment in this state so it looks lived in, so she doesn’t feel lonely. She’s also flat broke and barely making it, something that shocks Rory considering her brother is a rich and famous hockey player, but Oaklee refuses to ask for a hand out or help. She has to get creative with Buster’s vet bill, and offers to redesign the vet clinic’s website and do some other social media packaging to help pay for the unexpected financial cost.
- Twitter. The use of Twitter in this installment is Oaklee’s job. Her life. But I wasn’t kosher with her using it to publicly ask Rory out. Then the pressure and maelstrom that followed as all the local businesses and locals themselves began to weigh in and give their opinions. In a world where we have to teach our students and children digital citizenship and appropriate social media usage in a world drowning in oversharing, I though this was a perfect example of what not to do. There were some things that came back to both characters, questioning the already unsteady ground they were on with each other. In an about-face, later in the book Rory also uses Twitter to send out an announcement to Oaklee.
- Lies and Deception. Sometimes a white lie is necessary, like telling your husband the dog knocked over the expensive vase when your 8 year old really did it playing football in the house. I get that – protecting others. I also get that at times in our lives we have to be self-serving and protect ourselves. I get it. I was there
once a bunch. But what kept rubbing me a little quite a bit the wrong way was that neither Rory nor Oaklee had ever told anyone anything, as I mentioned above. But it wasn’t just that. Despite the budding relationship between Oaklee and Rory, neither one of them is honest. They both lie to each other. They are not all-in and willing to be honest with themselves or each other. Oaklee basically had to beg Rory for a date, and at the end she finally revealed her hidden truth and gave him an out to share his. And then he ignored her for two weeks. That bothered me.
- The Title. For the longest time I could not understand why the book was titled Somebody’s Baby. I still kind of don’t. At the end of the book, Rory surprises Oaklee with an unexpected gift, and that is the “somebody’s baby” part…but I didn’t think that warranted being the title.
I really thought for the longest that Rory was just going to walk away and leave Oaklee hanging. Ignore her and put her off and avoid her as much as he could, given the small town and the nature of Oaklee’s job to make it her business to support his business and others around town. There was something not quite there for me in this installment in the series. I’m not sure if this is the last book in the series or not, but there are still three more Gallagher children who are single! I hope Hannah is the focus of the next book.
While bestselling author Donna Alward was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers!
Donna lives on Canada’s east coast with her family which includes a husband, a couple of kids, a senior dog and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict.
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