Monday, September 30, 2013

Single Dad's Christmas Miracle - Susan Meier (HR #4395 - Oct 2013)

Clark Beaumont desperately needs a helping hand…

Having recently lost his wife, Clark Beaumont is trying to make it through the holidays for the sake of his kids. But with his son failing at school and his little girl talking only in whispers, he needs nothing short of a miracle….

…and then one arrives on his doorstep!

Althea Johnson is only meant to tutor Clark's son. Not to form any emotional bonds -- especially with her boss. But with her help the Beaumont family begins to come alive again, and against the odds Althea hopes that when Christmas morning arrives there will be four stockings hanging over the fireplace….

This was a sweet holiday romance.   Clark is having a rough time with his kids right now.  His twelve year old son is having problems with school and his three year old daughter won't talk above a whisper.  Since his wife's death three years earlier he is getting by as best he can.  He hires Althea to tutor his son and get him back on track.  He is surprised to feel a tug of attraction to her and tries to ignore it.  Althea, looking as an outsider, can see what the trouble is right away.  She makes it her goal to help the family heal, and maybe she'll find some healing of her own.

I really liked Althea.  The story started out with her getting knocked over by the family dog and it didn't seem to bother her at all.  She's a little unsure about the job at first, but as soon as she meets the kids she knows she is meant to be there.  I really enjoyed seeing her connect with the kids.  I loved the way that she stayed so calm when Clark panicked over her taking the kids to town to shop.  That same calmness helped him tell her what was behind the panic.  Once she knew what the problem was Althea had a plan for helping Clark and the kids get their lives back on track.  As she comes up with ideas for Clark and the children to do together she falls more and more for Clark.  Althea really loved being part of the holiday with them.  Her childhood had been pretty bad with a drunk, abusive father.  She has only recently been in contact with her sister Missy again (A Father for Her Triplets).  Life with Clark and his kids exposes her to a family life she had only been able to dream of.  She fantasizes about becoming part of their family until she has a run in with her father.  That makes her fear that she would bring her troubles to them and she couldn't bear that.  Her fears send her running away.  I loved the ending and how it all worked out.

Clark lost his wife in an accident three years earlier.  At the funeral he discovered that she had been unfaithful to him, causing him to question the paternity of the daughter he loves.  Fearing how the gossip from that day would affect his kids, he keeps them at home.  They don't go much of anywhere and even his twelve year old son is taught at home.  Jack is failing his classes which leads Clark to hire a teacher to live with them and tutor Jack until he catches up.  He's in for a surprise when he meets Althea because he's attracted to her even though he'd vowed he wouldn't risk himself again that way.  When he heads to work that first day he doesn't tell Althea that the kids don't go to town, so when he doesn't find them at home he panics and calls the cops.  He's rightfully embarrassed when they are safe.  After they get home he explains things to Althea, thinking that will be the end of it.  It isn't long before she lets him know just what effect his overprotectiveness is having on his family.  I loved the way that she came up with things to do that required his participation.  This exposed him even more to her cheerfulness.  I loved the way that he was first dismayed by being attracted to her and then "Oh no. He liked her too."  It didn't take long for him to accept his growing feelings but he was having some trouble getting her to accept them.  I loved the gentleness of the way he treated her at first, not wanting to push her, and then the way that he went after her at the end.

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