A Cold Creek Christmas Surprise: RaeAnne Thayne
A simple misunderstanding can go along way to change the complexion of a situation. A young woman comes Ridge Bowman’s door hoping to present Ridge with something that would link his past to the present. Ridge Bowman, single father has become immune to romance or the need to find love. Work and his daughter Destry provide all the solace and joy he needs. But, when Sarah Whitemore turns up his world turns upside down, inside out and will never be the same. His sister’s wedding having taken place and needing someone to clean his ranch from top to bottom he wrongly assumes that Sarah is the cleaning woman sent by the agency he phoned for help. But, assumptions and first impressions are not always what they seem and the person in this case is definitely not a cleaning woman, but Ridge never gives her a chance to refute what he thinks. Deciding to help him anyway and never revealing that she is a first grade teacher who came to present him with something very valuable that she found in her father’s affects after his death, Sarah decides to take on the role of cleaning lady. But, Sarah is not exactly sturdy on her feet when bogged down with cleaning supplies. As she is about to make her way down the staircase to begin her work, she falls down hard, loses consciousness and breaks her arm.
Sarah is not there to do housework nor to clean but when Ridge sees her body strewn at the bottom of the staircase he immediately calls for help. With his brother as the police chief and his other brother as an EMT/Fire Chief, Sarah receives outstanding care. Awakening to pain and disoriented from the pain meds, Sarah finds herself saying things that Ridge finds hard to understand. As she begins to become more coherent and realizes that she is now going to be his houseguest the untold truth somehow comes out for why she came to Idaho in the first place.
Ridge’s parents were murdered and some of his mother’s artwork was stolen. Finding it among her father’s affects and meeting with Ridge, she admits where she found it and presents the painting to him as a Christmas gift. Surprised, taken aback and thrilled he offers to let Sarah remain at his ranch rather than returning to Inn that his sister in law Laura runs. A hidden secret that Sarah does not want uncovered would devastate not only her but Ridge too. The author reveals a harsh truth about her father that could ruin any relationship she develops with Ridge.
As the plot and storyline evolve we learn about Ridge, his relationship with his two brothers and sister Caidy whose wedding he hosted at his ranch. We learn that she adopted her new husband’s two children, took them along on her honeymoon but we never get to meet her in person.
Sarah and Destry form a tight bond and decide to collaborate when Destry needs help completing the special gift she made for her father. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are special but the secret about his mother’s murder, the cache of paintings that she found in a storage unit that her father had stashed away might keep her from remaining at River Bow.
Rather than find the courage to tell him about her past and the link to the murders that might revert back to both her father a Russian Mob boss and her brother Joe who worked with him, she decides to leave without saying a word. But, Ridge is persistent and when pushed Sarah blurts out more than just the truth but a story that sends him over the top and taking her straight out of his home and out of his life.
But, Destry is smart and refuses to allow them to separate and immediate enlists the help of her cousin Gabi, her best friend to find Sarah and learn more about why she left. With the help of her two uncles and Gabi, Destry goes on a web search to find out where Sarah might be. But, will Ridge care?
Author RaeAnne Thayne brings to light many issues within this special edition in the series as she reminds readers about why Ridge is so careful about letting his emotions go when losing his wife Melinda to another man and learning she was killed in an accident. Single parenthood is a challenge but Destry is an amazing almost 12 year old that would make any parent proud. Doing chores, considerate of others and welcoming. But, when Sarah comes into their lives things change and when most young kids would resent the intrusion, Destry is embraces it. When Sarah is hurt and Dr. Dalton takes care of her arm, she is forced to remain with Ridge. A cast on her open arm and as she is taken to the nearby clinic for treatment allows both Taft and Trace to evaluate her. When she awakens she is disoriented and cannot remember what happened. But, suspicions do rise and the two brothers being law enforcement wonder just what really brought her to Pine Gulch and sense a hidden secret from the start.
With the truth out in the open his brothers Taft and Trace, the Chief of Police of Pine Gulch, go into action not only to find Sarah but to research the murders and just what might have happened.
The link to the past is the painting of his sister missing for about 12 years since the murder of his parents leading to the paintings being stolen. So, why would she claim to want to return the paintings to his family? Why would she hide the information? What was she really afraid of? Fear, conflict, regrets, self reflection, understanding and forgiveness are all issues that come to light within this plot. Added in we learn about Sarah and her relationship with her precious first grade students and how she loves to link her life experiences and bring them into the classroom. How can she leave Destry who has lost so much in her young life? Her mother is gone and her Aunt Caidy, the one person who has taken her mother’s place is away on her honeymoon, how can she just disappear too? But, she does. Private investigators hired and looking into the murders found nothing until the harsh truth rears its ugly head and things change for everyone.
Searching for the past can often lead to something special in the present. The bright lights, the trees, the snow that warms the ground in its special way and chills you to the bone when outside, the mountains, the fireplace and the warmth of the people that she’s met, are some of the reasons why Sarah wants to escape before becoming too close and things get out of hand even more.
.An ending that presents its own twists, turns and surprises and a romance novel with a touch of mystery and suspense keeping you glued to the printed page and wondering just what author RaeAnne Thayne has in store next for the Bowman family as the story ends but there is so much more to tell. Told in the special way that only this author can relate events it is no surprise that this novel will warm your heart and is a great read in front of a blazing fireplace or even on a cool summer’s night to read with someone you love.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer