Million Dollar Stud

A Noble Pursuit

The Fireman’s Christmas
by Meg Lacey
(Harl. American #1281, $4.99, PG)  ISBN 978-0373-75285-0
The Fireman’s Christmas is a fun tale about merging two families in a time of need.  The actions of the adults and the kids are realistic and the banter and interplay between the parents make this a heartwarming story.

Danny Santori is a widower with four children ranging in ages from 3 to 14. His wife, who was his childhood sweetheart, died of cancer just after the birth of their youngest daughter. Danny has been trying to keep it all together, but he is in a bind. His elderly aunt, who was watching the kids, needs a new hip and just can’t handle the energetic crew anymore, especially when two of the crew are 10-year-old twin boys. His shifts at the firehouse are 24 hours on and 48 off, making it hard to hire a babysitter who wants a part-time living situation.

Tessa Doherty is trying to get on her feet after a rather nasty divorce. Her ex was only worried about his career and Tessa needed more out of her life, especially when she found out he was also seeking extracurricular bedroom activity whenever he could. She loves gardening and landscaping, so has just moved to Warenton, PA to start her own business with her 12-year-old son, Eric, and 7-year-old daughter, Josie. Unfortunately, she hasn’t yet found good childcare and is currently bringing her kids to work with her. We are introduced to Tessa and her kids as they try to catch a customer’s cat and make a monumental mess of all the work Tessa just did.

A mutual friend introduces them and they decide to work together to solve their problems. Tessa will watch the kids while Danny is on his 24 hour shift and Danny will watch them the other days so that Tessa can work. As Danny comments, this will be a “piece of cake.” 

First there is the attraction they both feel but don’t want. Danny has not dated since his wife’s death and Tessa swore off men after her ex, Colin was such a jerk. But there is a spark between them, which they flirt around and dance around for quite a long time. Danny is charming and Tessa is leery but somehow, that doesn’t keep them from thinking about their attraction. Once they do acknowledge it, then they have to work around their roles. Tessa never wants to feel that she has to subjugate her needs again and Danny truly enjoys the protector/provider role he had with his first wife. He struggles, particularly, with expressing how he feels without getting Tessa’s back up. They each try to keep from their attraction by bringing in other interests, which fails miserably. Tessa’s one date leaves her feeling flat. Danny is so jealous he tries to use a visit to his aunt Connie as his “date”, telling Tessa her name but not their relationship. Tessa is so upset she tries to get him to acknowledge that he doesn’t really care about Connie and of course, he can’t say it. This causes a bit of a misunderstanding that they have to work through.

The kids play a major role in their romance. Alison, the 14-year-old, has mixed feelings about a) needing a babysitter and b) about the relationship she sees building between Danny and Tessa. She also has normal teenage anxiety as she starts her first year of high school and sometimes her dad just doesn’t seem to get it. Tessa finds herself walking the fine line between helping and interfering. The rest of the kids seem to get along fine and yet, the antics of five kids between the ages of 12 and 3 add to the fun in the story. 

I read this tale in one sitting and enjoyed every moment of it. The Fireman’s Christmas is a feel-good story that made me laugh. Don’t hesitate to enjoy it too. 

--Shirley Lyons

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