Runaway Love (Cherry Tree Harbor #1) by Melanie Harlow

Melanie Harlow has written some of my favorite single-dad, small-town romances – like Irresistible and Ignite – so I was very excited to see she was not only starting a brand new small-town series but that it also featured a single dad. I enjoyed the story and I loved the new town and characters that I’m sure we’ll grow to love over the course of the series but it didn’t top some of my other favs from Melanie Harlow. To be fair, it’ll be very hard to top my love for the Cloverleigh Farms books but I’m happy to keep reading her new releases to see if she can manage it!

Austin Buckley is in need of a nanny to help out with his 7-year-old twins for the summer but he’s not sure the strange woman who shows up for her interview in a wedding gown, fresh off of running from her own wedding, is the right person for the job. But Veronica Sutton is quick to charm his kids, his family, and most of the town, and as much as he hates to admit it, she’s charmed Austin as well. Between raising his kids, trying to keep his family’s business afloat, and trying to make time for his furniture-building passion projects he doesn’t have time to be distracted by a beautiful woman – particularly one under his employ. But he’s only able to resist for so long and as the summer presses on Veronica’s time with them is ending, Austin has to decide whether or not to risk his heart or let her go.

I really liked Veronica. Her fiancé at the start of the book was a piece of shit and I loved how she handled herself. Things really started off strong with her confronting him and the way she ended up running away. Then being stuck in this unfamiliar town in her wedding dress. I loved it. I even loved her turning up to Austin’s house, still in her wedding dress, trying to get the nanny job his sister advertised. She was in a pretty bad situation, having no money, no job, and no means to get out of this town but she didn’t let that keep her down. She held her head high and made things happen. Her tenacity was evident throughout much of the story, I really like that she wasn’t written as a damsel in distress, despite the fact that she literally was in distress.

As for Austin, I had my ups and downs with him. His devotion to his family was admirable but it was also frustrating because he denied himself so many things, using that devotion to the family as an excuse. He was a good father and it was clear he loved his kids but he was so closed off emotionally, even with the kids, that I had a hard time connecting with him. He was very hot and cold with Veronica. I liked his protective streak but sometimes he was just unnecessarily mean and I didn’t love that. He was usually quick to apologize but the constant up and down made me keep him at arm’s length.

I did enjoy it when they finally let themselves give in to the mutual attraction. They worked well together even if they were too stubborn to admit their feelings. Austin kept up his frustrating denial nearly to the bitter end but the result was a really sweet scene to close things out and then a cute epilogue to wrap it all up. At the end of the day, this book didn’t really have anything that hadn’t already been done before but it was still an enjoyable read and served as a promising start to a fresh series from one of my go-to authors. Austin has several siblings and I’m looking forward to reading about in future stories!

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