The Instant Family Man (The Barlow Brothers) - Shirley Jump

Series: Barlow Brothers (Book 2)



Up till now, Luke Barlow's biggest dilemma was deciding which debutante to take to which Stone Gap social. Until Peyton Reynolds appeared on his doorstep with a four-year-old blonde moppet and a birth certificate spelling out Luke's name in black and white. And it's time for the South's sexiest bachelor to step up and be the daddy his little girl needs!


Peyton had sworn she'd keep her cool around her onetime crush, but when Luke begins bonding with little Maddy, Peyton realizes she's in danger of losing her heart to the small-town heartbreaker. Perhaps this Barlow brother might be inspired to change his footloose ways and become the man Peyton can depend on…for a lifetime!


Excellent book about two people who are very different and the little girl who brings them together. Peyton was always the responsible one in her family. Her mother had been an alcoholic, incapable of caring for her two daughters. Her older sister had been just as irresponsible. So growing up, it was always Peyton who made sure things got done. And when her sister got pregnant and told her that the father didn't want anything to do with her or the baby, Peyton is the one who took care of Susannah and Maddy. Then her sister was killed in a car crash, leaving Peyton the only one to care for Maddy. Determined that the little girl's father finally take some of the responsibility, Peyton heads back to her home town to confront him.


Luke is the middle one of the three Barlow brothers and the carefree one. He likes to party and has never met a woman he didn't like. When Peyton shows up at his door and tells him it's time fr him to step up, he's stunned. He had no idea that his old girlfriend had his baby. He's not quite sure what to do with the news, but one look at Maddy and he knows he can't turn his back on her. However, he's not sure he has what it takes to be a daddy.


I loved these two characters. Peyton is pretty uptight, running her and Maddy's life with rules and schedules to go along with the bone deep love she has for the little girl. She doesn't like to let anything throw her off her plans. She has learned to depend only on herself. Letting go, even a little, to allow Luke into Maddy's life is really hard for her. Add to that is the reigniting of her girlhood crush on him, and her life seems to be coming unraveled. Luke seems to have spent his life avoiding the necessity of growing up. He's only just started admitting to himself that his lifestyle is getting old when he finds out he's a father. I loved seeing him try to get past his fears and do the right thing for Maddy. 


I got a bit frustrated with Peyton's rather rigid behavior through most of the book. I finally understood why she did it, but it was still kind of hard to watch. I liked the way that Luke's more laid back attitude balanced her out. I loved seeing how he was able to reach past Maddy's pain and make her smile and laugh. It was also fun to see him work on getting Peyton to relax her rules and just enjoy life. There were some really heartwarming scenes of Luke learning too become a father. There were also some heart wrenching moments when both Peyton and Luke doubted their own abilities. I loved seeing them both realize that they were stronger together. The last scene at Maddy's birthday party was really sweet.


I liked the secondary story with Luke and his friend Jeremiah. I really enjoyed seeing the influence that Peyton had on Luke's feelings about what had happened. His solution on how to help his friend showed his new maturity.