Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What gives you purpose? What guides you, helping you find your path? In the Marry the Scot’s world, Callum, the oldest McRae, seems to be the one who guides everyone. Until he can’t. But what do you do with your struggle with a devastating learning disability? What happens when your family, to a certain extent, enable you to not effectively handle your learning disability? What is there for your future? In Jolie Vines’s newest book, Oh Baby, to a certain degree, this is the youngest McRae brother’s plight.
Alaistair McRae has, for lack of a better word, been a bit of a flibbertigibbet through much of his life. You can rely on him in the earlier books of the Marry the Scot’s series to bring the humor and the adventure to the page. If you’ve read the series, you’ve seen him seek to follow in the footsteps of his older brothers when it comes to women, seen him almost die during a competition that goes awry, seen him struggle with his horrific dyslexia causing his brothers, namely his twin, to take his place for anything written, and you’ve seen him “cut up”, act brash, and keep his older brother “on his toes.” If you could give Alastair “Ally” McRae any superlative, it would be “most irresponsible McRae brother.”
Yet, Vines crafts a story for him that shows an Ally who is forced into “adulting” and who does it beautifully. In her newest book, Oh Baby, Ally finds out that he is the father of a baby. He isn’t made aware of the baby until after she is born, and he “moves mountains” to become her father. In the midst of challenging the courts and a “family member” of the birth mother, Ally begins a relationship with Scarlet Storm, Mathilde’s younger sister (Mathilde is Callum’s wife – their story is the first book in the series). These two situations, along with a serious life-changing incident in his life, conspire to grow Ally into the man he is always meant to be. I have said it previously in my reviews of the books in this series that a particular brother was “now” my favorite. But honestly, Ally McRae is my favorite, and I think Jolie Vines intended it that way.
First and foremost, Ally is the dirtiest McRae brother. I don’t usually comment on the $exual prowess of a particular character in my reviews, but Ally is a dirty talker and a dirty doer. He will curl your toes in the best of ways. Together, Scarlet and Ally are combustible. It adds some lightning to this story.
Secondly, like his brothers, Ally loves big. Yet in this story, that love isn’t just towards his heroine. And quite frankly, Scarlet is worth his love. It’s what I love about all of the books in this series. The heroes never vacillate in their love for the heroine. Any angst in these stories comes with the storyline or a threat to the family (that is the most usual). In Oh Baby, what makes Ally special and elevated above the other heroes in the series is his love for his daughter. The moment of their meeting will twist your heart and wrench tears from your eyes. Vines crafts moments between him and his daughter that are palpable and heart-rending. He could very well allow others to raise her, but he takes on his responsibility like a mantle. And that struggle, his battle, beyond his adoration of Scarlet, is the best part of this book. You feel his anguish when he’s separated from his daughter, and you become angered when it is threatened. Vines’s words twist you up and make you feel Ally’s pain. As such, Ally’s “big love” is the center, the core, of this book.
Additionally, Ally’s journey, I think, is the most profound of the brothers. In my questions at the beginning of this review, we see his challenges. What is Ally’s purpose? How does he overcome his disability to provide stability for his daughter, for Scarlet? If Ally’s big love is the core of this book, his journey is the vessel to illustrate it. Vines’s articulation of Ally’s growth is central to understanding his story. The only other character competing for his level of growth is James (from the second book), but, honestly, I think Ally has him beat. And I love that. I appreciate that Vines gives us the most complicated character last, and it illustrates her growth as a storyteller. Finding his place in the McRae family and firmly rooting himself in adulthood is necessary for Ally, and this is done so well in Oh Baby.
I don’t want to be remiss in discussing Scarlet. Like Ally, she has undergone a drastic change from the first book of the series until now, having gone to college and begun pursuing her career. Yet, like Ally, she experiences changes that you don’t expect at the beginning. Watching her advocate vehemently for Ally is one of the highlights of their story. Together, they are magic, and it was bittersweet in the book’s finality.
Honestly, I finished this book a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been sitting on this review simply because I hate to see the Marry the Scots books end. Jolie Vines has hinted to the 2.0 version, the next generation. There is a part of me that hopes for it because I will miss this clan dearly. Yet, there is another part of me that needs to let them go, let them live their happily-ever-afters in my mind. Jolie Vines’s writing has grown so much from Storm the Castle until now with Oh Baby. Thanks to her masterful characterization and storytelling, along with her delicious heroes, she has brought a new voice to the world of romance. You really should read this series. It definitely won’t disappoint you.
In love and romance,