Release date: September 20, 2011
Series: McKettricks of Texas
Buying Links: Amazon The Book Depository
Book Blurb (from goodreads):
The sudden death of the town marshal leaves Blue River, Texas, without a lawman…and twenty-five-year-old Dara Rose Nolan without a husband. As winter approaches and her meager seamstress income dwindles, she has three options. Yet she won't give up her two young daughters, refuses to join the fallen women of the Bitter Gulch Saloon and can't fathom condemning herself to another loveless marriage. Unfortunately she must decide—soon—because there's a new marshal in town, and she's living under his roof.
With the heart of a cowboy, Clay McKettrick plans to start a ranch and finally settle down. He isn't interested in uprooting Dara Rose and her children, but he is interested in giving her protection, friendship—and passion. And when they say "I do" to a marriage of convenience, the temporary lawman's Christmas wish is to make Dara Rose his permanent wife….
It was tremendously difficult sometimes, she thought glumly, to be the sort of person she wanted her daughters to be, when they grew up. And she'd fallen far short of that standard tonight.
Unexpectedly, Clay reached over and gently squeezed her hand, just once and very briefly, but the gesture raised Dara Rose's flagging spirits.
It also sent something sharp and hot racing through her, a fiery ache she had to work very hard to ignore.
Back in the summer, I read a contemporary romance by Miller, Creed's Honor, that I didn't like very much. I decided to give her another try, this time with an historical romance. I enjoyed it a lot more. It was saccharine at times, and predictable but the romance was sweet, the setting nicely detailed, and the characters were, mostly, nicely fleshed out.
Clay McKettrick loves his family but needed to leave and strike out on his own. He accepts a job in Blue Creek Montana as the marshall, but it's a temporary job. What he really wants is to start his own ranch, get married and raise a family. He bought land in Blue Creek and he plans to start building his house while he works as the marshall. He's filling in temporarily while the town looks for a long term marshall. One of the perks of his job is use of a small house in town. However, the previous marshall's widow and young children are still living there. He moves into the jail while the widow, Dara Rose Parnell, tries to find a new place for her and her children.
Dara has been married twice and widowed twice, and she's only twenty-five years old. She also has two young daughters. She's been struggling to survive since her second husband, the former marshall, died. She had a marriage offer of sorts, but it was less than desirable. She is a proud woman, occasionally stern, but kind and gentle.She wants to provide a good life for her daughters but a woman's options in the early twentieth century, in the American west, were few.
Dara and Clay come together, and even knowing that it was a romance, and one pretty much guaranteed to have an HEA, I was cheering for things to work out with them. A few of the minor characters were cardboard, but the main characters are well developed and likable, except for the obligatory bad guy, who was also one of the cardboard characters. The romance, as mentioned, was sweet, and slow moving, though the marriage, due to circumstances, happens fairly quickly. It wasn't a wildly passionate romance, but it was believable. Both are attracted to each other from the beginning, but they take their time and let things develop without rushing. The children were overly precocious but they didn't take over the story as sometimes happens in romances.
Reading "A Lawman's Christmas" was like curling up in front of a fire with a cup of rich, hot cocoa - sweet, comforting and cozy.
I received this hardcover from the publisher.