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.
LOVE INSPIRED: PATRICIA DAVIDS
Customs and traditions are at the heart of this novel. Emma Swartzentruber fell for Luke Bowman but it never worked out. When her two younger brothers and their friend decide to chance riding on the ice what happens will not only scare the two boys and the friend that came them the permission to ride in something they were too inexperienced to handle but will put them in grave danger until Luke Bowman sees what happened and saves them both. But, Emma is not happy to see him and learning that her father is ill makes it worse as he asks Luke to work for him completing something special. He always wanted his own hardware store and Luke is talented and can make so woodworking and handle whatever her father needs but what happens when they are together and will it work out. Added it Luke has not made up his mind as to whether he wants to be Amish or English after being tempted by the outside world. Serving time in prison and having to report to a parole officer about his change in jobs, dealing with Emma could create more than just the heat and chemistry between them.
Emma’s father or stepfather is ill and wants this project completed before his time is up. Can she deal with having Luke around all the time? What about her two young brothers? One who tries to adhere to the rules and the other tempted by the outside world. How do you accept forgiveness when you cannot forgive yourself? Luke spent time in jail for selling and taking drugs along with another friend. Learning to deal with his attributes, understanding family love and support hoping that he and Emma might get a second chance leads Luke down many paths.
When things start to simmer and boil between Luke and Emma another man comes along hoping to take his place. But with her father’s business at stake and creating his hardware store, just what will happen if all fails? With Luke and other members of the community helping and some of the women creating the costumes for the school play, the lessons learned about caring, family loyalty, cooperation and community spirit come through.
Hoping that he, Wayne, will be the one that Emma chooses she spends a day with his daughter but will it work out? Luke has been in her heart at all times and when her headstrong brother, Roy disappears will he be able to bring him back home?
Amish customs, the different orders, the modes of transportation allowed and the different variants of their culture are all well documented and researched within this novel. As Ruby wants to experience the English life, Luke is finally free and his parole is over. Jim Morgan is his best friend and when Luke decides to deter from his real beliefs he takes action. Timothy who has feelings for the schoolteacher and Emma who cannot resign herself to her feelings for Luke things begin to heat up in a cute way. With her father’s store coming into place and needing the permission of the Bishop to use solar panels and solar energy would he agree and what will happen when her father does return? Families that ban together. Families that help one another. A feeling of true understanding yet some rebel as does Roy her brother and Luke at times too. The Amish customs are quite different in each order and while one will ride in cars others will not. Some will use electricity where others will not. Both Emma and Luke seem to be somewhere in the middle.
Emma and Luke have a long way to go before they can accept each other for who they are. Roy needs to find his way on his own and the end result will surprise readers. Emma thought Luke never cared about her and that’s why he left. Luke thought he was not good enough for her and he is wrong.
A story filled with hope, redemption, and forgiveness and hopefully loves. Will Emma and Luke finally find the path to each other? Will Roy return home? What about sharing the fact that her father is ill and letting others help her deal with it? Love Inspired is a story that will warm you heart and renew your faith in true love.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine
Her Mistletoe Cowboy
Kim Lee was given an assignment by her editor to write an article about The Healing Ranch in a small town called Forever and she was anything but thrilled. But before she completes the article and before all is said and written she would learn some life lessons that would change her life, her perspective on family, friendships and caring. In this small town where there is one general store, one clinic and one restaurant can a girl from the big city find her true place? With parents and sisters that are successful doctors or lawyers and Kim a freelance writer who seems to have disappointed them greatly, can she write an article about a town, the people and two brothers who started the Healing Ranch to help difficult boys turn around their lives?
After dealing with Stan her boss and trying to get out of the assignment she realized she was between a rock and a hard place and had to take what she could get in order to pay her rent. Driving there was no picnic and getting totally lost quite easy as she is met by Garrett one of the brothers who immediately is taken with her. The encounter is priceless as she has no idea who he is, why he is there and how he knew she was lost. Answering each question one at a time, trying to figure out why he is so kind and understanding, Kim comes across brash, hard and maybe just a little afraid.
The town of Forever is small and definitely anything but what she would expect and hoping to go to her hotel and take some quiet time was not an option. Garrett answered her questions, she explained her reason for wanting to write the article and the choices of what she could see and do were not up to him but up to Jackson the founder and his brother. Jackson was not thrilled with her writing the article but they hoped when it was complete it would make more parents send their sons to the ranch so that they would have more income and help them turn around.
Forever, Texas is the place and the program created by Jackson and Garret White Eagle is unique. The people are friendly, the weather is hot and Kim is made to feel welcome from the start. Apprehensive and not quite sure what to make of Garrett and his brother at first. What they are doing to help these teens is remarkable as they learn to train horses, get paid for a days work and learn how to make positive choices and faces the consequences of their behavior when necessary. Never putting them down or making them feel unworthy this is a program that is great and hopefully will be started somewhere in the future like the one Robert Irvine and his design team helped called City Kids.
Meeting Jackson and his wife Debi was interesting to say the least and learning more about the people and the town just might change her way of thinking about others and herself too. But, my favorite character is Miss Joan the owner of the diner who makes everyone feel welcome and lets you know she is no one to be trifled with and is the matriarch of this town. Garrett White Eagle is blunt, straightforward and understands where Kim is coming from but some of her questions and thoughts are quite uncalled for as she thinks they are getting kickbacks from the parents that send their children to the ranch, that they might be doing it for profit not quite getting the point at first.
When going on a tour of the ranch a horse gets lose and Kimberly is injured hurting her ankle and unable to walk. Garrett and his family rally round and take her in to stay at the ranch and it is at this point we see a change in her and it could be the turning point of the story. When the young teen admits what happened and owns up for his mistake we realize just how important their work is. Trying to offer some help Kim comes up with ways to franchise their programs, or other ways for them to make money which they decline.
Hard work is important. Going to the clinic and getting the help for her leg taught her a lesson in understanding and community spirit as the room filled with patients told the doctors to let her to first. Imagine that happening here !
Every encounter with Garrett leads up to the fact that these two might be meant for each other if she ever completed the article and writes something that might help bring more teens into the program. But, a flash and an idea that Kim has just might turn things around and the end will definitely bring out the Christmas spirit in all of us. As Ms. Joan enlists the help of all of the teens at the Ranch and others to go and get a special and just perfect Christmas Tree which everyone gets to decorate. How amazing and special is that! Kim at this point just might learn the true meaning of the holiday, to trust in others and not care about the fact that her family is so distance and status oriented and embrace the people of Forever let’s say FOREVER!
What is her idea? Will she write a great article and will she remain? You won’t get that from me because you need to read this for yourself. Remember: Mistletoe is special so make sure that you stand under it with someone you really care about. The only thing that I wish was that we got to know the teens more and how the program that they created to help them.
Filled with hope and love this is a great story for everyone.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine