||The latest in Linda Lael Miller's Springwater series, A Springwater Christmas introduces a boarding house spinster and a prodigal son to the mix of loveable characters in this frontier town.
Miss Olivia Darling seizes her first and last opportunity for adventure when she uses her inheritance from her late aunt to buy a boarding house. Her courage starts to falter, however, when all the customers steer straight for the rival McCafferys' hotel. When a tall, handsome stranger darkens her door, Olivia is instantly attracted to him. But Jack McLaughlin is determined to keep himself removed from Olivia and life in Springwater. Haunted by a dark past, Jack once failed those who loved him most. Now as he finds himself falling for Olivia, Jack must face the consequences of his past, or risk the dreams of his future.
Miller's warm characters and sleek, unaffected writing style neatly disguise what is not always the most profound plot. While Jack enjoys a complex internal debate, Olivia's progression from grumpy activist to drama club president feels hollow. But profundity is not the point here: the dialogue is realistic, the romance is solid, the sensuality is restrained, and the final result is sure to keep more than a few readers up past their bedtime. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien