A Lawman's Christmas is the latest in Linda Lael Miller's McKettrick saga and features Clay McKettrick who leaves Arizona to accept a marshal's job in the town of Blue River, Texas.
When Clay McKettrick accepts a job as the marshal of the small town Blue River, Texas, it's not his only plan, but a means to achieve what he really wants: a wife, children, and a ranch. The time is 1914. Hostilities in Europe are hotting up; it's only a matter of time until buyers will be looking for cattle to feed the armies. Clay plans to be ready. What he doesn't plan on is falling for his predecessor's widow.
Dara Rose Nolan is occupying the cottage promised to the new marshal as part of his pay package. But Dara Rose and her two small girls don't have another place to go...not unless she decides to accept a neighboring rancher's offer to be his housekeeper and send her daughters to the poor house. Clay, struck by the young woman's plight and determination, decides he can bunk at the jailhouse until other arrangements can be made, but two things happen to change his mind. First, he's attracted to the young woman and her precocious daughters, and second, the town council is going to evict Dara Rose and sell the cottage if Clay isn't going to use it. A hasty marriage seems the expedient thing to do, but is it the answer or an attempt at a solution with even greater problems?
Dara Rose is also attracted to Clay, but can she risk telling the handsome lawman her own secrets? Can she risk her heart over a man who may turn out to be one more disappointment in a life of disappointments?
Ms. Miller has created a charming Christmas story that had me hooked from the first page. Dara Rose and her daughters were very much three-dimensional characters, and her hesitance around Clay understandable. I liked her resourcefulness and thrift, even thought I didn't buy the December productivity of her laying hens (mine all but stop laying in October and don't begin again until February, but maybe California hens differ from Texas hens?) Still, the eggs arriving in the nick of time makes for a sweet story. I felt the epilogue was overdone in that it was an eleven page love scene which seemed like an add-on, just to show the reader that Dara Rose and Clay were going to have a steamy marriage. In the case of A Lawman's Christmas with its charming setting and delightful characters, I think less is more.