Ignore the title of this lovely romance and you will find a treasure hidden inside. The Sheriff’s 6-Year-Old Secret is about a Sheriff with a six-year-old, but she is not a secret and is in fact a catalyst to his romance. What seems to be suggested is the familiar “I have a kid I didn’t know about” tiresome plot. What is hidden in the pages of this book is a love story between two mature adults who both have responsibilities and things in their past they strive together to overcome.
Nathan Thunder, a member of the “Thunder Clan” of the Kolheek Indian tribe in Vermont, has returned to the reservation as the sheriff. An old girlfriend, who has died, has left him with a six-year-old daughter to raise, prompting the move from his old police officer job in New York City. Safety and security are his two promises to little Charity, who has lost her mother and several would-be daddies along the way. His greatest fear is dying, leaving her or anyone else behind to grieve.
Gwen Fleming is Charity’s teacher. She too has a big responsibility in raising her 13-year-old brother, Brian. Their mother is dead. Gwen has rescued Brian from her abusive stepfather, getting custody only a few months before. Brian is a sullen, withdrawn teenager who has gotten into some trouble. Sheriff Thunder has tried to help rather than arrest the boy for petty theft.
Now it is the Sheriff getting called to the teacher’s office, as Charity has hit a boy during a fight. Nathan is at wit’s end, not really knowing how to help a little girl. Gwen is equally bewildered with her young brother. They agree to assist each other. And they both silently agree to fight this attraction they feel.
Of course, the attraction grows, and the young children present many challenges. Nathan and Gwen accept their growing feelings, even doing some heavy petting. The refreshing thing is no one apologizes or swears it won’t happen again, or any of the many ridiculous things that often occur. They accept it and try to rationalize their behavior, while they evaluate and accept their feelings.
There are a few kinks thrown in the course of true love. Gwen harbors a natural fear of men, having been raised by two abusive men. Nathan fears that intimacy will lead to a grieving widow. But Clayton has written a mature love story here and I truly enjoyed the banter, the love play and the depth of their feelings. Even when Nathan proves a bit too stubborn at one point, it was clear he was going to work it out in a thoughtful and caring way. Overall they are a pair that the reader can respect and easily root for.
Brian and Charity are two children who are both realistic and endearing, adding to the story, behaving predictably, while handling issues with love and candor. The final resolution worked out fairly easily, but on pace with the rest of the story. .
The Kolheek traditions and culture are thrown in to enhance the story and add to the richness of the tale. The sexual tension builds nicely, with adult interactions and mature reactions. It is so refreshing to see lust being controlled rather than have it ruling the actions of the characters.
Sit back and enjoy this charming and entertaining love story. Don’t let the title scare you off - The Sheriff’s 6-Year-Old Secret will reaffirm your belief in happy ever after.