Beneath a Texas Sky

The Rangerís Secret

Sheís My Mom

 
Santa in a Stetson
by Rebecca Winters
(Harl. American #1331, $4.99, PG) ISBN 978-0373-75335-2
****
This story is a follow-up to a previous series by Winters but the reader doesnít need to have read it to find this story compelling. Santa in a Stetson has a lot of things going for it, but primarily it has two characters who act like adults and work through their issues.

Kathryn McFarland was kidnapped as a child and raised in a cult-like environment in Wisconsin until she was found by her sister and the ex-CIA agent who is now her sisterís husband. Kathryn has been home for four years and at age 30, she realizes she needs more in her life than just her family. She works day and night for her parentís foundation, helping to find lost children and reuniting them with their families if possible. The foundation was started when Kathryn had been missing for a few years. Kathryn feels guilt at times and feels like she has to be near her parents to make up for lost time. It is just one of her many lingering issues from her kidnapping.

Colt Brenner is a single dad with two teenagers (twins) that are starting to give him a run for his money. His wife left just after the twins were born and has had no contact with any of them since then. Colt isnít even sure she is still alive. He only knows that she had family in Salt Lake City and thinks that is where she may have headed when she left. For the past 15 years he has raised Matt and Allie while running his own ranch in Montana.

One night, Allie fails to come home from school and ends up in Salt Lake City in a hospital. Colt only finds out when he gets a call from Kathryn telling him Allie is sick with H1N1 but will recover. Allie, it appears, had decided to hunt for her mom and had lied about a sleepover so she could hop a bus and find the relatives of her mother. But she passed out at the bus stop and Kathryn was called in to help the unknown ďJane DoeĒ girl. Kathryn and Allie form a bond and Kathryn, a nurse by trade, agrees to bring Allie home and stay with her until she is recovered.

Colt and Kathryn find each other attractive from the start. Matt and Allie get to know her and soon wish she was part of their family. There is a lot to the story but ultimately, the barriers the two have built around their hearts melt and they have a happily-ever-after.

This was a story with a lot of angles and many issues that get in the way of true love. At times, Kathryn was stubborn and put up her own walls. At other times, Colt was determined not to let Kathryn get to him and didnít want to have to deal with his past. It wasnít until the kids forced the issue that Colt handled the old hurts.

Kathryn and Colt are well matched. They were vulnerable so they were very cautious at first. As their friendship deepened, so did their recognition that they might have something special. I liked that the romance developed slowly and at a pace that was believable. On the other hand, money was no object for either of them, so flying here and there at the drop of a hat was nothing. And the kids were awfully unspoiled for having grown up in an environment that pretty much gave them whatever they wanted.

On the whole however, this story was one of the better category romances I have read this year. I heartily recommend Santa in a Stetson.

--Shirley Lyons


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