A single mother helps a restaurateur move past his wife’s death and become a better father to his child.
Jenna Savage moved to Dogwood Beach, a coastal community in North Carolina, to be closer to her brother. Her 8-year-old twins have never known their father, and they love being near their favorite uncle. A paralegal with summers off, Jenna is looking forward to three months at home with Olivia and Oliver. But when she spies a toddler wandering around Whitecaps Restaurant unsupervised, her plans change. That toddler is Marley, daughter of Whitecaps owner Nathan Bell. Nathan’s parents have been taking care of Marley ever since his wife died from suicide, but after two years, they realized they were enabling his avoidance rather than helping him grieve. Now Nathan is desperately seeking a babysitter, and Jenna just happens to be enthusiastic about the prospect of adding a third, much younger, child to her already significant load. Nathan’s parents’ abrupt departure—they literally left him holding screaming Marley—and Jenna’s quick embrace of the idea of nannying for a stranger are so clunky that the story almost doesn’t get off the ground. But appealing leads, adorable children, and a sensitive portrayal of the aftermath of suicide put it back on course. Daniels’ (All We Want, 2018, etc.) portrayal of a woman who really thrives in a traditional helper role feels superficial at times, but the relationship is compelling. Despite being parents with romantic histories, neither Jenna nor Nathan has really given themselves up to love. As Nathan's father puts it, “When you move past loving someone to needing them—they become a necessity to your own survival. You no longer get to decide whether you can be without this person. You can’t.”
Good choice for fans of small-town romances with heart.