Have yourself a steamy little Christmas…
After three years in prison, freight train engineer Lacey Gallagher doesn’t expect this Christmas to be very merry and bright. At least chopping down trees for her brother’s Christmas tree farm will help her save money to get her life back on track. All her plans derail, though, when her new job puts her in territory patrolled by the man who haunts her dreams—the forest ranger who sent her to prison.
Austin Wilder isn’t thrilled about Lacey working in his forest—but he soon realizes he needs her help. His family is depending on him to restore an old steam train for a spectacular Christmas event, and train expert Lacey is his only hope of finishing in time.
Working together challenges every assumption Lacey and Austin have about each other, and they discover a desire hot enough to melt even the deepest Montana snow. But will the season of second chances be enough to mend the most hardened broken heart?
Source: Review copy from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
If you’re looking for a different kind of heroine in your contemporary this Christmas, then Lacey Gallagher is a treat. Not just because she’s an ex-con (which in itself is unusual), but she’s also a smart train engineer who isn’t the least bit afraid of hard, manual work. I really liked her and could empathise with how dearly she had to pay for trusting the wrong person. One of the absolute best things about her, though, is that she’s not bitter about it. Yes, her time in prison and Austin’s role in it all weighs on her mind, but she doesn’t blame anyone but herself – even if she wasn’t guilty of what she was convicted of.
Lacey goes on quite the emotional ride throughout this book, and her release is just the start. There’s the relationship with her brother to be rebuilt, her fears in facing the town to be overcome and ever her own image of herself to be changed. And then there’s Austin. The one man she really shouldn’t want, yet the only one she feels anything for.
Much as I liked Lacey, I found Austin a little less… interesting. He’s pretty narrow-minded and judgemental at the start, and I really didn’t like the way he was hassling Lacey in the forest. Yeah, sure, he doesn’t trust her, but surely he would know just how difficult he was making her life by showing up every day to “check” on her. He does loosen up, of course, and I did like how he came to admire her grit and determination and her unstoppable work ethic, but the pair of them are working so closely together that he could hardly not see it, unless he was being willfully obtuse.
With plenty of chemistry and lots of heat, this really is quite a steamy read – even without the train – and I really enjoyed it. Perhaps the ending was a little too sugary, compared with everything that went before, but on the whole this was really good. The hero is okay, the heroine is great and it’s always nice to visit Marietta – especially to see cheeky Josh again (the wheelchair kidnapping made me laugh). Overall this is a great start to the Montana Born Christmas series this year, and I can’t wait to read all about Lacey’s brother next.
Three Nights Before Christmas is Out Now!
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