Finally His Bride

From House Calls to Husband

The Home Love Built
by Christine Flynn
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1275, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-24275-1
I noticed a list of nearly thirty previous titles in the front of Christine Flynn's book. I can't imagine how I've missed this author, but after thoroughly enjoying The Home Love Built, you can be sure I'll be on the hunt for some of her backlist.

Paralegal Laura Barrett has been sent to co-ordinate the liquidation of the estate inherited by Sheriff Gabe Gallagher. While waiting for the sheriff to meet her at the property, she encounters a bundle of tear-stained preadolescent fury named Shelby. An astonished Laura is subjected to Shelby's angry diatribe that her father is planning to ship her off to live with an elderly aunt, now that her mother has abandoned the family. She confides to Laura that her father wants her out of the house so he can spend more time with his girlfriend.

Laura is immediately touched by the child's plight. She was also abandoned by her mother when she was nearly the same age and left in the care of her grandmother. But Shelby takes off on her bike before Laura can offer any advice.

When Gabe finally appears, he apologizes for being late, explaining that he was searching for a missing little girl. Laura tells him of her encounter with Shelby and informs him that the poor child's father is a selfish jerk. Unbeknownst to her, Gabe is the father in question and it's not long before an embarrassed Laura discovers Shelby's tendency to overdramitize.

Gabe is at his wit's end. He buries himself in his work, unable to cope with his divorce, a precocious eleven-year-old and the recent death of his father. He feels no reason to justify his handling of Shelby to a virtual stranger. Gabe dumps the entire business of packing up and liquidating his father's estate on Laura's capable shoulders, instructing her to do whatever needs to be done and to leave him out of it.

Despite the rocky start, neither can ignore their mutual attraction. But when Shelby starts developing a close relationship with Laura, Gabe pushes Laura away. He is unwilling to have Shelby hurt if another woman should abruptly exit her life.

It's been a long time since I've read a book that so effectively emphasizes a couple’s awareness of one another. All descriptions in the book were written from the sensuous aspect. Things as simple as Laura playing with kittens, baking cupcakes or packing antiques were styled to languidly build sensual tension without so much as a kiss. By the time Gabe and Laura finally get together, I was more than ready.

Although no new ground is covered plot wise, The Home Love Built, for me, was the perfect read to snuggle up with on a chilly fall evening.

--Karen Lynch

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