cover image Christmas on Reindeer Road

Christmas on Reindeer Road

Debbie Mason. Forever, $7.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1696-0

The convoluted second romance in Mason’s Highland Falls series (after Summer on Honeysuckle Ridge) attempts to capture the Christmas spirit, but gets too caught up in its tangled story lines. Saintly Mallory Maitland has taken custody of her late-husband’s troublesome teenage stepsons, Oliver and Brooks. She moves them back to her hometown, Highland Falls, N.C., in time for the holidays, hoping a fresh start will unite them as a family. This plan backfires when the boys falsely accuse her of abuse, and though they recant almost immediately, Gabe Buchanan, the “off-the charts gorgeous” chief of police, is forced to get involved. As Mallory works to prove she’s a capable mother under Gabe’s watchful eye, Gabe fights his late wife’s mother for custody of his own children. Though Gabe and Mallory try to resist their attraction, the more time they spend together the harder it is to deny that their fractured families fit together. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the many disparate subplots featuring the large cast of townsfolk, which distract from both the sweet, family-centric romance and the seasonal atmosphere. Series readers will be excited to return to Highland Falls, but the uninitiated will struggle with this one. Agent: Pamela Harty, the Knight Agency. (Oct.)