MAID UNDER THE MISTLETOE – Maureen Child
Harlequin Desire #2487
Contemporary Series Romance
Franklin, Idaho – Present Day
Since artist Sam Henry lost his wife and son in a car accident, he's holed himself up in his isolated mountain cabin, with his only contact being his housekeeper, Kaye. Kaye recently left on a month-long vacation and a temporary one is lined up, but Sam is horrified when she arrives and it turns out the replacement maid, Joy Curran, is young, and has a little girl. For a man who has frozen his heart to caring about anyone, he's suddenly finding himself attracted to his new housekeeper and kind toward her daughter. Any attempts to avoid contact is hard to do, and he's soon unable to resist the attraction.
As a single mom, Joy is all about trying to keep her life uncomplicated for her daughter. The live-in housekeeping job proves fortunate as her house is being repaired and she promises to keep her daughter, Holly, out of Sam's way. However, Holly is a bundle of energy and she is soon worming her way into Sam's art studio to visit, fascinated by his creations. Joy is curious why a virile man would isolate himself from others and refuse friendships, but she honors the boundaries he has put up. Yet, it doesn't stop her from starting to care for him.
Joy and Holly bring a ray of sunshine into Sam's life in MAID UNDER THE MISTLETOE. Sam is a hermit and is crabby when anyone invades his space. The initial contact between Sam and Joy has him snarling at her to leave him alone. She figures she can do that, but her energetic daughter has other ideas. Holly is a sweet child who sees good in everyone, even if Sam is crabby toward her. It is through Holly that the wall Sam has erected begins to thaw. Sam and Joy start to interact, where they learn more about each other, and it leads to the realization that there is an attraction building. While getting involved might not be a good idea when he's her employer, neither can resist the other.
MAID UNDER THE MISTLETOE features sizzling chemistry between Joy and Sam, as well as the fatherly relationship between him and Holly. At first, Sam and Joy want to avoid acting upon their feelings, but it's hard to do when they're living under the same roof. It takes a while before Sam opens up about the pain he experienced losing his wife and son, but being around Joy and Holly has him talking about the tragedy. It's the Christmas holiday, and before Sam realizes it, Holly has him ready to put up a tree and decorate it. He hasn't done anything like this since before his loss.
A wonderful holiday romance of love rising among the ashes, MAID UNDER THE MISTLETOE is a tale I highly recommend.