Book Review of Cowboy SEAL Daddy (Cowboy SEALs, Bk 6) (Harlequin Western Romance, No 1686)

Cowboy SEAL Daddy (Cowboy SEALs, Bk 6) (Harlequin Western Romance, No 1686)
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Good friends to lovers story. Wayne and Paisley have been friends and neighbors for three years, ever since Wayne and his teammate Logan moved in. She has especially appreciated his help since her ex-boyfriend left her pregnant and turned out to be married. But she's shocked when he comes to her with an off-the-wall request.

Wayne is still recovering from the trauma of his divorce and has sworn that he will never remarry. His ex cheated on him with a fellow team member, leaving him convinced that he isn't relationship material. However, a recent call from his father has Wayne reeling. His father says he is dying, and all he wants is to see Wayne married and maybe with a baby on the way before he dies. After a facetious comment by Logan about renting a wife, Wayne decides to ask Paisley if she will pretend to be married to him to ease his father's mind.

I completely understood what was driving Wayne to come up with such an idea, but it had disaster written on it from the beginning. Paisley has a bad feeling about it, but she likes Wayne's father and goes along with it for his sake. I wanted to shake Wayne a few times at the beginning because he seemed to treat it all like a big joke, not seeing how it could go really wrong. I thought Paisley had a more realistic view of the pitfalls that could occur. Still, they might have been able to pull it off if Wayne's friend Logan and Paisley's friend Monica hadn't decided to get married - at Wayne's family's ranch. Suddenly, Wayne's mom wants Wayne and Paisley to make it a double wedding and things start to spiral out of control.

I enjoyed the development of Wayne and Paisley's relationship, but I also spent a fair amount of time wanting to shake them both. From the moment they agreed on the deception, their relationship began to change. I had to laugh when they decided they had better kiss a couple of times to make sure that it would be believable when they arrived at the ranch. Neither one expected the flash-bang of attraction that flared up between them and it freaked them both out. It made things a bit awkward between them until they agreed to put it behind them and concentrate on the plan. Once they arrived at the ranch, the important thing became figuring out what was going on with Wayne's dad. It was sweet to see the way that Peter and Jules welcomed Paisley and were so happy about the wedding and the baby. This just added to the guilty feelings that Paisley had about lying to them. As Wayne and Paisley spent more time together, each of them started to wonder what it would be like if it were real. There were some really sweet scenes with the two of them, especially when Wayne just wanted to be close to her.

I liked Wayne and Paisley, but both of them had some serious issues to overcome. Wayne's ex had done a number on his confidence in his ability to love. Being with Paisley and thinking about her baby makes him happy, but he's afraid to trust that it will last. He uses charm and humor to keep things from getting too serious, but something inside him makes him long for something different. He is so convinced that he doesn't know how to love that he doesn't see that he is in love with her. Paisley frequently frustrated me, with her waffling back and forth about whether or not to go through with the wedding. First, she agrees, then she wants to tell the truth, then she's back to going along with it. Her feelings for Wayne are getting stronger, but she's afraid that she's taking advantage of him. She grew up with a mother who manipulated men into taking care of her, and Paisley is terrified of being like her mom. This often causes her to push Wayne away. I ached for them both at the wedding scene, as Wayne wants to make it real, but can't give Paisley the words she needs to hear, and Paisley's fears won't let her see what he can't say. It takes some time apart, and some serious looking at their fears before either is ready to face their future. I loved Paisley's big moment at the end as she went after what she wanted.

I loved the importance that family played in the story. The biggest part was Wayne's father, Peter, and his health issues. I ached for Wayne and the pain he felt at the thought of losing his father. I loved Peter, with his broken English, his big heart, and his love of John Wayne. I ached for him and his belief that he was dying. I loved the ride that he and Wayne went on, where Peter showed his medical papers to Wayne and got the surprise of his life. Paisley also had family issues to deal with. Throughout the book more and more of her relationship with her mother was revealed, as was the effect it had on Paisley's life. I liked seeing her finally face her mom and the impact it had on her mindset. The epilogue was fantastic, with a great view of their lives a year down the road. I especially loved the bit with "Duke."