Colorado Christmas
by C.C. Coburn
(Harl. American #1283, $4.99, PG)  ISBN 978-0373-75287-4
****
This appears to be a start to a series about the O’Malley family and the most mischievous brother gets his story first.  Colorado Christmas is a delightful tale and is a great start to the books written for the holiday season.

Will O’Malley is on hiatus from his job as a stunt skier in ski movies, primarily because he was caught in a big avalanche and almost died. It spooked him and he is back in his hometown of Spruce Lake, Colorado trying to hide his fears. He is thinking he is ready to settle down and yet at age 32, no one in town is ready to believe their daredevil is serious. He loves the town and when a large development company plans to tear down half the downtown Victorian-style buildings to put up ugly condos and other development, he decides to lead the protest. This bit of civic duty lands him in court for vandalism.

The judge in the case is a wonder to him. Judge Becky McBride is a temporarily covering for a judge who is on maternity leave. Becky is ambitious and sees filling in here as a good step towards a permanent judgeship in a larger city. Becky has moved here with her eight-year-old son, Nicholas. Nicholas is smart for his age and has been placed two grades above his norm, leaving him the butt of some bullies in the school. His cerebral palsy and the fact that he wears leg braces also don’t help the matter. But Becky is convinced that since he can’t enjoy physical activities he needs super stimulus through high academics. In fact, she hopes to enroll him in a school for the gifted when she gets that judgeship.

Will actually has the audacity to ask Judge Becky for a date after she gives him public service and restitution. She of course, turns him down cold. But she can’t get him out of her head and he doesn’t let up, sending her flowers and cards asking for some time with her. When Becky discovers that Will has befriended her son, she is really concerned about his motives. But Will met Nicholas at the pool, where he went to work out and Nicholas went for hydrotherapy. He didn’t even know Nicholas was related to Becky until days after their friendship was forged.  Will and Becky reach a tentative agreement when Will offers to watch Nicholas over the Christmas school holidays and Nicholas convinces her that Will is the best bet they have for a good, safe babysitter.

Both of these characters have histories and it is often the past that must be reconciled before they can meet the future. Will has his fear to get over and has to figure out what to do with his life, while Becky suffers from a severely bruised heart thanks to her ex-husband. He rejected Nicholas as soon as they discovered his disability and wanted Becky to put him away in an institution. Becky couldn’t and still doesn’t understand how you could love a child one minute and send him away the next. She packed up and left with Nicholas instead. She is leery of another relationship but is won over by Will’s genuine affection and caring for Nicholas.

This was a good story and brought both smiles and tears to my eyes.  I enjoyed watching the two find their way to their HEA, even with a very predictable disaster thrown in to cement their journey.  The O’Malley brothers that were introduced seemed like a good group to have their own stories and the series could be one to collect.

Colorado Christmas is a great holiday tale and for me, had the right combination of romance and sentimentality with a strong storyline to back it up.   

--Shirley Lyons


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