Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-390-4
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Well, Texas Lullaby is certainly not the typical contemporary romance: the hero and the heroine are about to get married when the story opens.
The thing is, Jason Montgomery has always made it clear that he doesn’t want to have children. Ever. Actually, he is infertile – he has a medical report to prove it – and he hides this from everyone by acting like his refusal to have kids stems from the fact that he simply doesn’t want to be a father. And Lydia Henson doesn’t know that, of course. Still, she has convinced herself that it’s okay, as long as she has him, she’d be happy. Really. Right?
Alas, before they can walk down the aisle and start a new life together, Lydia’s sister Meredith and her husband were killed in a car accident, leaving behind two twin girls and a baby in Lydia’s care. Our heroine takes to motherhood like fish to water, although I really like how the author doesn’t make Lydia an instant perfect mother. The kids don’t always listen to her, the house is a mess, but Lydia won’t change any second of the whole thing, that dear woman.
As for Jason, he’s a sweet darling that I almost feel guilty in smiling at how people, including Lydia, start second-guessing him, despite the fact that he’s a natural daddy material, because in the past he made it a point to let them know that he doesn’t want children.
Texas Lullaby is in many ways a perfect Mother’s Day read because it presents a somewhat realistic version of motherhood – at least, it shows some ups and downs instead just happy moments 24/7 – in such a way that makes all that chaos, cleaning, chasing, and stress feel so… worthwhile, if you know what I mean. If you feel like dumping the kids at your parents and lie that you need them to care for the kids for five years or so because you have been chosen by the President to go on a secret mission in Tibet to save the world, reading this may change your mind and make you want to hug those kids instead.
But the underlying emotional drama has me scratching my head. Being a mother to her sister’s kids only makes Lydia that this is what she would miss when she marries Jason – something that puzzles me, because it’s not like Social Services will drag those kids away once she marries him. And maybe it’s just me, but she already has three kids to bring up – does she want another baby to go with the three? Is she crazy? The fact that Jason and she are such great parents together should have drawn them closer together, I feel, rather than create new conflicts, and as a result, these conflicts feel forced and artificial.
Oh, and Jason manages to get his tadpoles kicking in the end to give Lydia the baby she wants. Which, aside from being an eye-rolling development, also gives rise to the unfortunate implication that you may love your dead sis’s kids, but you will love your own flesh and blood more. And since poor Meredith died to give Lydia her epiphany, that poor woman’s death seems to be in vain. Lydia will always love her own brat more. That’s not a very nice thing to take home from the story, if you ask me, and its “You must make a baby to be happy in a marriage!” message will only drive a blade into the hearts of readers who are unable to conceive. If I have my way, I would have ruthlessly axed this contrived thing and just let those two make peace with his infertility and be remarkably content with having three kids to raise.
Anyway, Texas Lullaby is a nice, sweet, and heartfelt romance. It’s a bit of a shame that the take home message and the forced conflicts all make me wince a bit, as otherwise I’d have given this one a higher score with clear conscience.