cover image Santa’s Sweetheart

Santa’s Sweetheart

Janet Dailey. Zebra, $8.99 mass market (400p) ISBN 978-1-4201-5107-7

Things get complicated when a student decides to play cupid for her commitment-phobic teacher in Dailey’s humdrum fourth Christmas Tree Ranch romance (after Holding Out for Christmas). First-grade teacher Grace Chapman has just turned runaway bride for the second time. She moves to Branding Iron, Tex., to escape her sordid past, not to pick up with a new guy. Sheriff Sam Delaney’s wife died only a year ago, but his daughter, Maggie, is so desperate for him to move on and get out of his funk that she goes on strike at school in order to get him into the same room as her pretty new teacher. Sam and Grace quickly catch on to the sneaky little matchmaker, but their attraction proves just as powerful as Maggie’s meddling, and, unbelievably, they fall in love after a single non-date and one spontaneous kiss. Before they can move forward, however, Grace must deal with her daddy issues while Sam works through his grief. The pair rarely get a scene without Maggie present, and their relationships with her are far better developed than their flimsy romance with each other. The festive Christmas atmosphere softens the disappointment, but this is still best suited only for the most devoted series fans. Agent: Richard Curtis, the Curtis Agency. (Oct.)