by Mindy Neff

December 2003
ISBN: 0-373-75002-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Harlequin #998
Mass Market Paperback

Welcome back to Hope Valley, Texas, home of the Texas Sweethearts, Donetta Presley, Sunny Carmichael, Tracy Lynn Randolph and Becca Sue Ellsworth. These four women have been best friends since grade school and have vowed to always be there for one another. This is a vow thy have kept through the years. One couldn’t ask for better friends than this group.

Surprised By A Baby, the second in the Texas Sweetheart trilogy features Donetta Presley, who has just confirmed that she is indeed pregnant by none other than Sheriff Storm Carmichael, Sunny’s brother. Donetta has had a secret crush on Storm from the time she was twelve and he was sixteen. One unexpected night of passion shared by the two a few weeks earlier has left Donetta carrying the child she has long dreamed of. She wants Storm to be a part of their lives but doesn’t see marriage in the future. Donetta has been married before and has vowed to never be controlled by a man again.

Donetta runs the local beauty salon in Hope Valley and the business has been cited with numerous code violations since its remodeling some two years ago. The new fire marshal has ordered the building vacated until the building is brought up to code. It is Sheriff Storm Carmichael’s job to insure that Donetta obeys the vacation order. He comes to the business and orders it closed much to Donetta’s dismay. She will need to leave her upstairs apartment as well until the repairs are made. Storm offers to let Donetta stay at his place and help her with the contractor who has been giving her the run around about doing the repairs.

Donetta soon learns that she has support in unexpected places as many of the townsfolk rally around her to help with the repairs. The sweethearts lend moral support when they find out about her delicate condition and they soon help her turn Storm’s house into a temporary salon so she can continue her business. How will Storm take the news of impending fatherhood?

I found this second book in Mindy Neff’s Texas Sweetheart trilogy to be quite entertaining despite the fact that it contains the “surprise baby plot” that so many series books contain. This can be attributed to Ms Neff’s ability to write such wonderful characters. I loved Donetta’s spunk from the first book of the trilogy and could not wait to read her story. Storm Carmichael is a small town sheriff with a heart of gold and the fact that he’s easy on the eyes makes him all the more irresistible.

Ms Neff’s skill at interweaving her story to include not just the main story between Donetta and Storm but more information about the sweethearts and the other townsfolk make this book a delightful read. Her skill at writing about small town life is remarkable and I am looking forward to visiting Hope Valley again.

Reviewed in December 2003 by Barbara.

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