Christmas Kisses (Romance on the Ranch Series #5)

Verna Clay
Christmas Kisses (Romance on the Ranch Series #5)
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Publisher
M.O.I. Publishing
Release Date
October 2013
Series
Book 5 of Romance on the Ranch
Genre
Western Romance

SUMMARY
Christmas Kisses can be read as a stand-alone.

The heroine of this story made her first appearance in book three, Baby Kisses. She is Cecelia Brightman, the sister of Miles Brightman and sister-in-law of Tooty, the stars of Baby Kisses. It was fun bringing her character to life.

Although born into wealth and privilege, she has never found the forever-after kind of happiness she seeks. She has devoted her life to helping others through charity work, but now at the age of forty-two, she can no longer continue along the same path. Much to the chagrin of her parents, she leaves the trappings of wealth and follows her heart to the small town of Paxtonville in Colorado to be near her brother and his large family.

As for the hero of Christmas Kisses, he is new to the series and carrying baggage from a previous sorrow that almost destroyed him. However, I have a feeling Cecelia and the magic of Christmas may be the perfect answer for Connor MacKenzie.

This story has been written specifically with Christmas in mind, so, of course, there are children involved. Some of the youngsters are new to the series; others are rejoining the ongoing saga.

Book Review by Angie Just Read... (reviewer)
Oct 22, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
137 people found the following review helpful
She sought the fulfillment and connection her brother had found among the warm and friendly community of Paxtonville, Colorado. He sought anonymity and escape from the pain and anguish of a long-ago tragedy that wouldn't give him the peace he craved.

At the age of forty-two, Cecelia Brightman's privileged life and charity work in Manhattan were no longer enough to fill the void created by her regrets. She'd never fulfilled her deepest desire because she'd never met that special someone and settled down to raise a family. Instead she'd worked increasingly longer hours and directed her efforts to aiding others.

But now work was no longer enough, so when a visit to her brother and his family in Paxtonville, Colorado created an opportunity for her to purchase a local coffee shop and relocate, Cecelia jumped at the chance to create a new life near her brother and his family. It didn't matter that she knew nothing about the mechanics of making coffee beverages; Cecelia simply knew it felt right.

Reclusive painter Conner MacKenzie valued nothing so much as his privacy. His paintings garnered top dollar, and his self-induced but recent seclusion in the little town of Paxtonville had nothing to do with money and everything to do with fifteen years of physical pain and emotional regret centered in Denver. He'd almost not survived the long-ago accident that claimed his wife and forced him to give up his infant son for adoption. Painting was the emotional outlet and lifeline that staved off the triad of pain, loss, and regret. But unless Mac had the shoulder operation recommended by his doctor, the nerve damage that was slowly crippling his arm would extinguish the one thing that brought him peace--his painting.

A long recovery time from surgery meant that Mac would need a caregiver to assist him for several months. Trusting someone enough to grant them a temporary place in his home and his life wouldn't come easy. The one person who came to mind to provide the assistance he'd need was local coffee shop owner Cecelia Brightman. She'd been compassionate towards him and she'd never revealed his identity after discovering who he was following an accident she's had on his property while delivering a standing order for coffee to the town's mystery man. But no sooner did Mac allow Cecelia entry into his life than he was shocked with the news that Sean, the son he'd given up for adoption long ago, was demanding entrance into his very private life.

Saddled with physical recovery, a warm attractive caregiver, and a rebellious teenage son who's nearly a stranger leaves Mac exasperated. He doesn't know how to open up to his son without revealing his true identity and relinquishing his need for privacy, and he doesn't know how to battle the physical and emotional needs the caring and beautiful Cecelia can't help but bring out in him. As Mac helplessly watches Cecelia win over Sean and bridge his angry son's defenses, Mac can't help but lower his own despite the demons that drive him to hold his heart hostage to the past.

The very talented Verna Clay simply leaves me in awe. Her ability to capture on the page the deeply emotional subjects that drive the everyman is done in a series of warm and tender moments that mean her craft for writing just gets better and better with every story told. CHRISTMAS KISSES hero Mac MacKenzie is one of her most complex characters to date, but Ms Clay easily counters this gruff introvert with the warm and understanding Cecelia, a woman who has also lived a life of unfulfilled dreams. Cecelia fits right in to life in Paxtonville and is light to Mac's darkness.

And Ms Clay's deft hand at skirting teen issues and teen puppy love is warm and sweetly done. Toss in a bit of holiday celebrating and catching up with Paxtonville's memorable residents and you have a perfect read for putting a smile on your face, a tear in your eye, and a dash of happiness in your heart.
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