|We possibly may be entering the final series of books in Karen Whiddonís series featuring the Coltons of Honey Creek Montana. The time is winter, nearing Christmas, and Damien Colton has been released from the penitentiary having served 15 years for murdering Mark Walsh, a local business man and the father of a girl he had been dating. Although his release had been obtained when the real Mark Walsh is murdered nearly 15 years later while Damien was in prison, the town has still not truly accepted the fact that he is not, nor has he ever been a killer.
Damien realizes this and has decided to move on to a different state with a different ranch and start a new life. His plans are destroyed when he discovers his father Darius has either stolen or lost every penny of the three million dollars Damien had inherited from his grandfather. Darius refuses to talk about it, although he does let Damien live at the family's ranch house and work as a cowpuncher.
The one townsperson who had written him while he was in prison was Eve Kelly, now settled down as a beauty shop owner in town. She had been slighter older than Damien and had been an extremely popular and outgoing girl when he knew her. He is surprised she is still unmarried.
Not only is Eve unmarried but she is harboring a secret that soon she will have to reveal. Taking a vacation in Italy last summer she thought she had met the man of her life; only to end up pregnant and deserted. Alone, in one of the local watering holes one night while drinking her Shirley Temple, Damien also alone wanders over to sit with her. Thus they begin to reestablish their relationship as friends.
Damien is pushing his brother Wes, who is the town's sheriff to solve the crime that led to his incarceration. Wes is trying, although he is also being pushed by the team of FBI agents in town who are secretly investigating their father Darius. Damien had been approached by the FBI as well to be an inside informer for them but he is trying to stay well clear of them.
Living at home, Damien is eyewitness to his sister Maisie's fractured personality as her cruel outbursts are affecting her teenage son. Sharon, their stepmother, is also suffering from both physical and mental abuse from Darius as his practiced veneer is beginning to fracture. Escaping or not, he find solace in the company of Eve as their relationship deepens in a predictable fashion.
The characters are well drawn; however most of them have been previously introduced in other stories. The mounting tension in the romantic arena is clouded by Damien's angst at being rejected by his father and the town, and by Eveís refusal to let Damien take the responsibility for her uncharacteristic actions resulting in her pregnancy. Readers will find no surprises in Coltonís Christmas Baby