Title: The Magnolia Inn
Author: Carolyn Brown
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from Montlake Romance and the author. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".
Inheriting the Magnolia Inn, a Victorian home nestled in the East Texas pines, is a fantasy come true for Jolene Broussard. After living with the guilt of failing to rescue her self-destructive mother, Jolene knows her aunt and uncle’s B&B is the perfect jump start for a new life and a comforting place to call home. There’s just one hitch: stubborn and moody carpenter Tucker Malone. He’s got a half interest in the Magnolia Inn, and he’s planting his dusty cowboy boots squarely in the middle of her dream.
Ever since his wife’s death, Tucker’s own guilt and demons have left him as guarded as Jolene. The last thing he expects is for his new partner to stir something inside him he thought was gone forever. And as wary as Jolene is, she may have found a kindred spirit—someone she can help, and someone she can hold on to.
Restoring the Magnolia Inn is the first step toward restoring their hearts. Will they be able to let go of the past and trust each other to do it together?
Tucker reminds me of Don Johnson in the movie Long Hot Summer – I wonder if he has a dimple. The problem I had was trying to think of who would portray Jolene – wonder who the author would want. Once I finished this book, I wanted to go back and actually watch the movie.
I came to love our author’s secondary characters. They gave some extra life to the story. Even though they didn’t talk directly to us, they’ll make you feel as if you are a part of what’s happening. I wouldn’t want to get rid of any of them because I’ve enjoyed getting to know them – well, maybe just one and you’ll understand when you start reading.
This author will remind you that you don’t need a lot of intimacy to have a great romance. Building the world that our characters are in is what becomes important. Without that world, would they even have met? The inn even becomes an important character to this story – it’s one thing that connects everyone. Any type of relationship that blossoms here is just secondary. People can get pleasure out of the simple things. It’s not hard to see that even though we may have challenges in life, the care of the right people will help make those burdens easier to bear. I can’t wait for warmer weather to get here so I can find the perfect spot with the warm sun shining down as I read this book for the second time.
“Why is Tucker a tortured soul?”
“He lost his wife, Melanie, a couple of years ago. She was his whole life,” Lucy whispered. She clucked like an old hen gathering in her baby chickens. “I just can’t believe he bought half interest in this place. It takes a people person to operate a B&B, and from what I hear, Tucker is almost a hermit.”
“I guess we’ve all got our own emotional baggage,” Jolene said.
“Wait until he hauls his damn sorry ass home drunk and you’ve got guests in the place,” Lucy declared.
“She loves Jesus, but she still cusses a little,” Dotty said with a wicked grin.
“He’s a fantastic carpenter. He’s got money to put into the inn. And I’ll cross the drinkin’ bridge when it happens. And . . .” She glanced over at Dotty, who shrugged and winked.
“And just so y’all know.” Jolene took a deep breath. “I’ll be working at the Gator starting Friday night.”
“Lord have mercy,” Lucy groaned. “Have you talked to Sugar about this?”
“Visited with her last night and was going to tell her, but . . .”
Lucy threw a hand over her forehead in a dramatic gesture and then shook a fist at Dotty. “You’re leading our sweet girl down the path of unrighteousness. Jolene, I’ll give you a job in my place of business. Full-time with benefits if you’ll quit the Gator right now.”
“I know bartending, and I can only handle part-time work with the inn, but thank you,” Jolene said and tried to change the subject. “Do I have the recipe for these cookies in Aunt Sugar’s files?”
“I’m sure you do, chère,” Dotty said. “But now let’s talk about the Easter Tour of Homes. Surely Sugar mentioned it?”
“Oh, that.” Jolene was glad Dotty had changed the subject. “She always wanted to be included in it but figured the Magnolia was too far out of town.”
“It might be, but we want to add it this year,” Lucy said.
“It’s, what, like three months from now?” Jolene asked.
“Yes,” Tucker said from the doorway. “We’ll have it ready by then.”
Jolene felt heat rising from her neck to her cheeks. How much had he heard? She motioned to the coffeepot and then to the cookies. “Come on in and meet my friends.”
“Always ready for cookies and coffee. I’m Tucker Malone.” He stuck his hand out toward Lucy.
Her expression said that she’d rather be sticking her hand in a rattlesnake pit, but she put her frail hand in his. “You probably don’t remember us, but we remember you from when you used to come to church with your wife. I’m Lucy Rogers. I own Attic Treasures, an antique store in Jefferson.”
“Jolene told me that a couple of you ladies own antique shops. That’s wonderful.” Tucker brought her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles. “I’m right glad to make your acquaintance, ma’am. I hope to do some business with y’all as we work on this place. We’d like to keep the antique ambience but use modern things like tubs and showers to make things nice for our guests.”
From Lucy’s expression, Jolene could’ve sworn she’d rather have been shaking hands with the devil. “Well, I’ll be sure to give you a real good price on anything that you can use.”
He turned to settle his crystal-clear blue eyes on Flossie.
“I’m Flossie Simmons, and I own Mama’s Place in Jefferson. My antiques are better than Lucy’s.” She winked. “And since Jolene is like a daughter to all of us, I can beat any deal Lucy would give you.”
“And I’m Dotty Beauchamp.” Dotty’s southern accent thickened. “I’m a Louisiana girl from the other side of the Big Cypress Bayou, and I own the Tipsy Gator. I’ve seen you a few times in my bar. You always sit on the last stool in the shadows, right, chère?”
“Yes, ma’am, I sure do,” Tucker said.
Jolene was totally blown away. One minute they were ready to crucify her for letting Tucker live there, and the next they were flirting with him. Good glory! They had to be seventy or older, and he wasn’t a day over thirty-seven.
“We should let you two get back to work,” Dotty said with a broad wink toward Jolene. “And since you’re going to be out of pocket on Friday night, then Sunday afternoon will be our meetin’ time.”
They pushed their chairs back and paraded toward the foyer. Lucy stopped at the hall tree for her coat, and Tucker hurried over to help her into it. “Thank you for the cookies.”
“You’re welcome. Good luck with all this remodeling.” Flossie gave Jolene a quick hug and whispered, “I hope you know what you’re doin’.”
Tucker picked up the last coat from the hall tree and held it out to Dotty. “It’s been a real pleasure to meet you ladies.”
Jolene sank down on the bottom step of the stairs and sighed when Tucker shut the door behind the ladies. Tucker sat down beside her and propped his forearms on his knees. “So you work in a bar?”
“Ever since I was twenty-one. Until then I did waitress work,” she answered. “How much did you hear?”
“I got there when Lucy was offering you a job to quit working in a bar,” he answered.
“Sounds like you heard most of it, then. I’ll be working at a bar on Friday and Saturday nights. I understand that you drink a little on weekends.”
He got to his feet. “I’m going to get a couple more cookies and another cup of coffee to take upstairs with me. And, honey, I drink a lot on Saturday nights.”
“Just so long as we understand each other.” Jolene stood up and headed toward the kitchen. “Right now we could take fifteen minutes off and call it a midmorning snack.”
“Got chocolate syrup?” He followed her into the kitchen. “For the cookies, the coffee, or the milk?”
“Milk, and then I dip my cookies in it,” he answered.
The ladies had called him a tortured soul. Jolene stole glances at him as she got out the chocolate syrup. It was a shame that he’d lost his wife so suddenly. He might never get over it, but she sure wasn’t looking forward to dealing with another weekend drunk—like her mother or that last worthless boyfriend.