Finally a Bride

Forever His Bride

Once a Lawman

Unexpected Bride

Single Dad Sheriff
by Lisa Childs
(Harl. Super #1324, $4.99, PG) ISBN 978-0373-75328-4
Single Dad Sheriff is a good story that was vastly engaging when reading it, but didn't stick with me after a few days. At times, it felt like the author just was tugging heart strings, but the ending did deliver a nice romance.

Chance Drayton is the Forest Glen sheriff and basically enjoys his job. He is a divorced ex-Marine involved in a custody battle and enjoys the lack of excitement in this nice small town. His wife couldn't handle his deployment, so she had an affair and divorced him. She also cited his lack of stability in the custody battle. Chance is fighting to see his son and may have to move back to Chicago to be close to him.

He is blown over when Tommy Phillips walks in his office asking a favor. He wants Chance to find his father. Tommy's mother won't tell him and he convinces Chance that at the tender age of eight, Tommy feels he has a right to find him. Chance, thinking about his own ten-year-old, agrees to find him.

Needless to say, this does not sit well with Tommy's mother, Jessie. Jessie has been raising Tommy on her own without help from her parents or the boy's father, who broke up with her after going off to college. He never even knew or at least, they never talked about it. Jessie always wondered if he guessed. But she didn't want someone to marry her for that reason and besides, they were just teenagers. She was sent off to a relative and had her child. Tommy and she have been a good team and now that they have landed in Forest Glen, she has high hopes to settle here permanently. She doesn't need a nosy sheriff stirring up trouble.

Tommy and Chance bond and ultimately, Chance convinces Jessie he isn't a bad guy. She and Tommy help him prepare his house for a visit from his son and they start to become friends. In the back of each of their minds, they realize there is an attraction and even steal a kiss or two to cement that knowledge. But their baggage seems to outweigh their sexual needs.

This was a realistic story dealing with realistic feelings. Chance is adamant about not getting involved until he knows what will happen with his son. Jessie knows that she has to be careful with Tommy's feelings as he starts to identify more and more with the sheriff and their lives slowly intertwine. Jessie also knows she is ready for a relationship. Her fear of her old boyfriend and the fact that she never gave him a chance to be a father is a major area of disagreement between her and Chance.

Small town life plays a part, with neighbors helping and matchmaking, with lawyer friends being more than just a lawyer, but someone who will tell the truth despite how hurtful it might be and Chance's family, who still live in Forest Glen also play a role.

Any time children and their emotions are involved, the author runs the risk of being too sentimental and too emotional. Chance's relationship with his son and the ultimate resolution comes really close to being a bit too unbelievable. And the resolution of Tommy's hunt for his father can only happen in a story like this.

In the end, though, Chance and Jessie are right for each other and deserve their HEA. For that, Single Dad Sheriff

gets a three-heart rating.

--Shirley Lyons

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