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Home For Christmas
by Patricia Potter
(Silh. Int. Mom. #897, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07897-8
****
Home for Christmas is accomplished historical romance author Patricia Potter's first book for the Silhouette Intimate Moments. How refreshing it is to read a novel that has been as well researched as this one, and in two disciplines no less… law and medicine. Don't make the mistake of believing that accuracy dulls this unique approach to the old amnesia plot.

Widowed attorney Julie Farrell and her four-year-old son Nick are appropriately buckled up for safety when another car hits them. Trapped by the smashed door, the airbag and her seat belt, Julie can't reach Nick in the back seat. Suddenly, strong male arms pull Nick free and return for Julie just moments before the car explodes. The hero pulls her out and throws her away from the blast, catching a lot of the impact himself. When Julie awakens, she and Nick are recovering from their injuries in a hospital.

Julie learns that the brave stranger, now comatose in the ICU, is a convict who was working on a road gang. Ryan Murphy is a formerly a well-respected detective who pled guilty to killing his partner. He is serving a long prison sentence and the District Attorney's office is expected to block every possible opportunity for parole.

Ryan regains consciousness and claims he has amnesia. This form of amnesia is usually caused by brain injury and is neurological in nature. Truly rare, the sufferer can perform tasks, but personal fact memories are erased. Do you think the prison officials buy this story? Of course not. Does Julie? Yes.

Julie feels the responsibility anyone would feel to a stranger who risked his life to save her life and her child's life. When she is released from the hospital, she bullies Ryan into retaining her as his attorney . She then starts a crusade to persuade the parole board to grant him parole.

Her logic is simple: a person who is now medically and psychologically not the same person who committed a crime should not suffer the continued punishment and does not need continued rehabilitative efforts. Besides, Julie doesn't truly believe he was guilty in the first place.

Julie has spent the last years hiding in a low profile job. Two scandals in her life cause her to shun media attention of all kinds. She has been successful closing herself off from the world until compassion and obligation override caution.

Ryan is a wonderful person, unlike the solitary, arrogant individual he was reported to have been…or is it an act? Will he revert to a different personality type when or if he regains his memory?

Despite the dark overtones, this is a story that leaves you feeling uplifted. Ryan's mental anguish is convincingly portrayed and Julie's mounting attraction is poignantly characterized. An attorney working for a prestigious law firm and a convicted cop killer are not a combination one would vote most likely to succeed.

Patricia Potter portrays her characters realistically and with deft stokes of tenderness. A heartwarming story of redemption, Home for Christmas features both a small loveable boy and sensational sexual tension between Julie and Ryan. Definitely one for your Christmas stocking!

--Thea Davis


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