|C.C. Coburn’s latest effort is the continuation of her series on the O’Malley brothers from Spruce Lake Colorado. Having enjoyed her first story, I was excited to see this in my pile. While not as strong as Colorado Christmas, this one is enjoyable and won’t disappoint as long as the reader doesn’t dig too deep.
The Sheriff in the title is Matt O’Malley, a man who is recovering from the death of his wife and unborn child. Sally was nine months pregnant and hit by a car when she went into premature labor. Matt was on his way home and got waylaid by a major wreck for a drunk driver, only to discover said drunk was the one who hit Sally. She bled to death on the side of the road while Matt was unknowingly helping with the accident. It has been three years, but Matt is still stuck in his grief, fearful to let himself love again. His family is supportive and his brothers have just started to push women his way.
Matt is out heading home one night in a storm when he comes up behind a car with California plates that is driving erratically and ultimately runs off the road. When he gets there, he has flashbacks…there is a lone woman driver and she is in labor. Matt finally pushes his fears aside, gets her into his car and gets her to the hospital in time. In fact, she grabs his hand and he ends up at her bedside when she gives birth to a beautiful little girl, who she promptly names after Matt’s mom.
Beth is a fugitive and is amazed she found trust in a strange man. She is even more amazed when she discovers the next day that he is a cop. Cops are not high on her list right now. Beth is a widow. Her husband Marcus was killed in LA in the line of duty…or so she thought until she discovered a key to a safe deposit box. That box had a ton of money and a key to another box, and in that safety deposit box was drugs. Before she could make sense of things and decide what to do, Marcus’ partner showed up at her house on the day of the funeral and threatened to kill her and her unborn child if she didn’t come up with the key. Beth enlisted the help of her grandmother and took off to hide. She is distrustful of any cop and needs to protect her baby. She remembered a great little town in Colorado that she visited as a kid. She rented a cabin and was well hidden until she had to go into town and give birth.
Matt is both attracted and suspicious from the beginning. He is even more so when he finally discovers her real name and sees that she is wanted as a fugitive suspected of drug dealing. None of it makes sense to him…he just doesn’t think his instincts could be that far wrong. He and Beth end up stranded in the cabin for a few days giving them time to get to know each other. Beth finally confides in him, but still isn’t sure she can totally trust him.
There were a few issues with the story that the reader has to overlook. First, they fall for each other really fast…and not just a little bit. The whole story about Beth’s husband barely meets the minimum of believability, but if taken at face value, does give Beth strong motivation for her fear. The bad guys are just that and easy to dislike. Matt is a sharp contrast and as such is easy to like as the good guy and the romantic hero.
Overall, C.C. Coburn has written a story that is nicely paced with characters that one can embrace. The visits from the other O’Malleys add to the sense of family and peak the reader’s interest for continuing stories about them. The Sheriff and the Baby is an acceptable sophomore effort with just enough to put Coburn on the “watch this author” list.