Review by Veronica

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Series Name: Butterfly Bayou, # 6 

That frown should have shut down his libido, but it did not. He kind of liked the thrum that was starting in his system. His life had become a boring cycle of work and family obligations, and a never-ending string of rejections when it came to the one thing he truly loved. This woman had him excited for the first time in years.  

Bayou Beloved has all the southern charm and heat that I have come to expect from a Lexi Blake book. 

Quaid Havery always planned to follow in his father’s footsteps. He went to law school and then came home to take over his dad’s legal practice. Being the only lawyer in small-town Papillon, Quaid is pretty sure he’s seen everything. After all, he was once asked to sue an alligator for defamation of character. He’s prepared for anything the town can throw at him, until he encounters Jayna Cardet. She’s gorgeous, smart, funny, and unlike any woman he’s met before….Except he has.

Jayna never thought she’d return to Papillon, but when her life gets turned around she must learn to live in the close-knit community again. She certainly never dreamed she would practice law in her little town, but she finds herself in the courtroom, and the opposing counsel is her former high school crush, Quaid. It wouldn’t be so bad if the man had developed a beer belly, but Quaid is more handsome than ever. And instead of ignoring her like he did in high school, he’s made it plain that he wants to get to know her.
Thus begins a courtship destined to end in a wedding or a war. Either way, the locals are popping some corn and eagerly awaiting the outcome. 

I think this is my favourite book in this series. I have to say I was completely blown away by how much I loved this book and how much it sucked me in. I was up all night reading it, and I have no regrets. Why did I love this book so much, you ask? It was this wonderful combination of a fun, interesting story with characters that I just instantly connected with. This story has a lot of delicious drama; some of it is ridiculously funny, and then the rest of it is more serious in nature. I love the town of Papillon and always enjoy my time there. In this book, we get to experience the town through a more legal angle, which you think wouldn’t be fun, but it was. The cases and things that Jayna and Quaid take on as the town’s only lawyers are hilarious. There was this real Neighbourhood War vibe to the feuds that were going on in Papillon. But what made these conflicts so enjoyable was that even though there were conflicts between neighbours and families, there wasn’t this real vicious motivation for these conflicts. Honestly, it felt like some people in town were bored and wanted to stir up drama for some entertainment. I’m not complaining because I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. 

Lexi hooked readers right from the first few chapters. We meet Jayna, who has just returned home and is now trying to work as a lawyer in Papillon. She is waiting not so patiently in court for the defence attorney to show up, so she can argue her client’s case in front of a judge. But things are not going as planned for Jayna; the judge is laid back and has no problem waiting because it would mean he would miss his doctor’s appointment (which he doesn’t want to go to), and then everyone in court decides to play a game of hangman while they are waiting for this late attorney. Jayna doesn’t know what the heck is going on, but she does know that she wants to destroy the defence attorney, Quaid, a man she hates. Jayna decides to take it upon herself to get Quaid, and when that man first lays eyes on Jayna, he is completely blown away and knows he wants her in his life. The only problem is they went to high school together, and Quaid doesn’t remember her at all, which only pisses Jayna off even more. There was so much delicious tension between these two; I just needed to see how things would unfold. Lexi does not disappoint me; the rest of the story is so damn good. 

Jayna’s story is one of coming home defeated. She is coming out of a nasty divorce, lost her job, and is broke. She never wanted to return to Papillon because it had always felt more like a cage to her. Her family has a bad reputation in town for being criminals and never amounting to anything. Jayna doesn’t want to be there. The only bright light in this situation is that she can spend more time with her sister and her nieces. Jayna is one incredible, badass, smart heroine. I don’t always like more prickly heroines, but I loved Jayna. She has this confidence about her that you can’t help but admire. She handles anything that comes her way and is a fantastic lawyer. There is this more vulnerable side to her that only Quaid seems to be able to bring out. I loved watching this man work through those walls Jayna had built around her heart. 

Quaid is pretty fabulous. He definitely has that southern charm and truly loves helping people. But he does feel this weighted responsibility as the town’s only lawyer and responsibility to take care of his family. His family is wealthy and considered this old blue-blooded southern family. Underneath that easy going personality is a man with a strained relationship with his brother (who is back in town). He wants a better work-life balance, something he has never been able to have because he is the only lawyer in town. But now that Jayna is back, he finds that working with her gives him a new spark in his life. 

These two are my favourite couple in this series! I could not get enough of them. When they are arguing a case in court, working in the same office, or sharing the same apartment, there are just so many sparks flying between them, and their chemistry is phenomenal. Lexi blends a few tropes to create this mouth-watering romantic relationship. There is forced proximity, workplace romance, and reverse grumpy sunshine tropes woven into this story. These two are perfect for each other. The patience and understanding this man showed her as she struggled to deal with the aftermath of her divorce was utter perfection. Jayna became Quaid’s cheerleader when it came to his writing, giving him the courage to keep pursuing this writing career that he has always wanted. As they start this new relationship, they also have to deal with rumours going through town, their families not wanting them to be together, and plenty of misunderstandings that crop up between them. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t like, and Quaid’s grand gesture at the end of this book was so sweet and made my heart melt. 

Bayou Beloved is a perfect southern romance to curl up and spend hours getting lost in. 

Thank you, Berkley Publishing Group, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.