~ About the Book ~
Actor Dylan Conner is furious. Not only has he been left out of his child’s life, the baby boy has been given another man’s last name. Determined to be a better father than the sorry guy who’d left him and his mother, Dylan fights to ensure a significant place in his son’s life. Unfortunately, his bad-boy reputation overshadows his good intentions. Only one woman in this small town sees beyond his Hollywood image. And he’s falling for her. Too bad she’s the custody mediator.
After her scandalous divorce in the small town of Oxford, Mississippi, attorney Cassie Brooks has no intentions of practicing law again. The humiliating experience left a bitter taste for love, marriage, and her profession.
Now friends need Cassie’s help in a custody negotiation, and her role demands she remain objective. She never expected to be drawn to Dylan Conner—the actor who everyone warns is bad news. Not only is the mediation at stake, but so is her heart.
Series: #2 Southern Hearts
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release date: 15 June 2016
~ Excerpt ~
Jill turned the infant over her shoulder to face the other way.
He moved around her and made eye contact with the little guy. “He’s a good-looking boy. What’s his name?”
“Michael James Russo.” Her voice cracked as she answered.
“James was my grandfather’s name. I like it.” The baby’s lips curled as he made garbled sounds. “Can I hold him? I think he wants to play.”
“He spits up a lot.”
Dylan flashed his best grin and held out his arms. “I like to live dangerously. Remember?”
A toothless smile covered the baby’s face. He chortled as Dylan covered his eyes and played peekaboo.
Jill finally let go of the child, but her face drained of color.
Talk about overprotective mothers. She needed a chill pill.
The redhead moved near and peered over small designer glasses at the baby. The elegant chandelier above her reflected off the thin lenses. “Hi, I’m Cassie. Our little pumpkin seems to think you’re hilarious.”
Sarah Beth’s mouth twisted. “No doubt.”
Dylan lifted the baby up and down. “He’s so light. How old is he?”
Neither Jill nor Sarah Beth spoke.
Blue-green eyes sparkled up at him as Cassie pressed her index finger to her chin. “About three months?”
Sarah Beth jerked herself up from her seat. “He’s probably light because Jill was sick for so long, but the doctor says he’s fine.” She motioned across the room. “I’m ready to get back in the receiving line, and it’s my turn to hold Michael.”
Two high-strung women? Definitely lowered the romantic interest level. At least their friend Cassie seemed normal. Dylan laid the baby in Sarah Beth’s arms. “Are you sure you’re okay now?”
Whispering, Jill whisked Sarah Beth toward the long line of well-wishers.
What in the world was going on with those two?
Dylan walked with them and studied Michael as he waited in the line of friends who’d come to pay their respects to Bill’s family. He stayed close as they reached Bill’s wife, Carol.
There was something about that baby.
And the women’s strange attitudes. He didn’t know Jill that well, despite his one night with her. But Sarah Beth was usually pretty laid-back.
Three months old. How long had Jill been gone, anyway? Not a year even. And last summer… A little ball of anxiety planted itself in Dylan’s stomach.
~ Review ~
If you have a soft spot for a reformed rogue, then you should meet Dylan Connor. He’s the kind of guy you can’t help but like—confident, smooth, a little flirty—but he also has a bit of a reputation; to be honest, deservedly so. And it’s about to catch up with him. But the greatest test of character often comes when we’re brought face to face with the consequences of our actions, and in this respect, I have to say Dylan comes through with flying colours.
If you are in any way affected by a man who dotes on his infant son, that alone will have you swooning over Dylan. But it’s not just that. It’s the way he’s determined to do right by his son. It’s his playful tenderness with Cassie, even in the early stages of their friendship, and it’s the fact that, deep down, he’s actually a sweet, slightly insecure guy—it’s just been buried beneath his Hollywood persona. And I love that Cassie, a woman who has her own reasons to distrust a man with Dylan’s reputation, is the one to give him the chance he needs to get his feet back on the right path.
It’s probably a good idea to read the first book in this series, Leaving Oxford, prior to this one, because you’ll get the background to this story and understand the strained relationships between Dylan and the other significant characters in this story—Jill, her husband, and Sarah Beth’s husband. It makes for a complicated situation emotionally, particularly for Cassie, who finds herself caught in the middle, and yet the story avoids becoming weighed down by angst. In fact, it’s quite lighthearted at times, thanks largely to Dylan and Cassie’s father, ‘Big’ Roy Bosarge. And I loved that it’s a missions trip to Honduras that provides the opportunity for everyone to gain a different perspective on things.
Janet Ferguson’s writing is warm and engaging, her characters colourful and varied, and after the glimpses of what has been growing between quite university senior Audrey Vaughn and popular quarterback Cole Sanders, I’m keen to read the next in the series.
I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Other Books in the Series ~
~ About the Author ~
Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served her church as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.
~ Giveaway ~
Did you know Going Up South has recently become available in audio? To celebrate, Janet Ferguson would like to give one lucky visitor an audiobook copy of Going Up South. To enter, leave a comment and let me know whether you’ve read any of Janet’s books, or whether she’s a new-to-me author for you, then click to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter. The giveaway closes at 11:59pm on Monday
5 March 2018 (EST).