In this Southern contemporary, a surly NYPD narcotics detective hides away in small-town Georgia after an investigation ends badly, only to find himself reluctantly drawn to his florist neighbor.
Austin (The Best Laid Wedding Plans, 2015, etc.) brings an entire cast of quirky characters to life in the second installment of her Magnolia Brides series. The run-down house Sam DeLuca inherited from his great-aunt in Misty Bottoms, Georgia, offers the perfect excuse for him to lie low while he recuperates from a gunshot wound, until his neighbor Cricket O’Malley bangs on his front door and accuses him of trespassing. Cricket is also new in town. But unlike Sam, she plans to put down roots, starting with the opening of her shop, the Enchanted Florist. Still tormented by his last case and knowing he will ultimately return to New York, Sam struggles against his growing feelings for Cricket and his affection for the eccentric residents of Misty Bottoms. And Cricket knows she would be better off finding someone else. But while the story’s premise offers the potential for an exciting emotional conflict, the plot frequently gets bogged down by subplots involving a large cast of secondary characters whose purpose in the story is not always clear. The book includes everything from a lovable stray dog to a charming eccentric with a rusty truck. Austin is clearly attempting to make readers fall in love with the fictional town where the series takes place, but, unfortunately, all the extra details come at the expense of Sam and Cricket’s story. Readers may find themselves feeling more impatient than charmed.
Readers who enjoy detailed worldbuilding and secondary character development will like this story. Those who prefer a faster pace and more focus on the main characters should skip it.