by Linda Lael Miller
rated 4 stars
Reader's Choice Author L-Z
Can the magic of Christmas give two college sweethearts a second chance? It's Christmastime and two of Ashley O'Ballivan's siblings are expecting children. No wonder she feels a bit left out. To make matters worse, Jack McCall--an old college flame--has booked a room at Ashley's Bed and Breakfast. When Ashley finds herself nursing Jack back to health after he falls ill, it would seem love was in the air again. In fact, Jack is furious with himself for compromising her safety. unbeknownst to Ashley, Jack makes his living doing high-tech global security work, which means he has more than his share of enemies. After a picture-perfect Christmas, Jack disappears, and Ashley assumes he's gone for good. Could anything make him return?
This is Ashley's story. She is the younger sister of Brad (book 1-ish though of the series) and Olivia (book 2). Melissa is Ashley's twin, although she doesn't play a particularly heavy role in this story, but her story is set up for the next book. Aaanyway, she runs the B&B in Stone Creek. Her on again/off again love affair with Jack McCall is the center for this book. They met in college and both fell madly in love, but his career is in "security" (wink wink, which means mercenary). So, to keep the love of his life, safe he must keep a distance from her, (rolls eyes). Now, he has come to her B&B in Stone Creek to recuperate from a mystery illnes, (he was injected with some sort of exotic toxin by an Argentinian Drug Lord, I know! Happened to me last week, very inconvenient!) In his weakened and fevered state, he only wants to be near Ashley. (awww!) She is not exactly jazzed about that, since 6 months ago he visited and they "rekindled" their romance only to have him leave one day while she slept. No word, no note, just disappeared. Mmmm Hmmm!! So, Will she nurse him back to health? Will he learn to "Love em and Stay"? Will they survive the dangerous Argentinian Drug Lord? Will they live Happily Ever After? "Tune in next week to find the answers to these questions and hear the climactic conclusion to....At Home in Stone Creek".....Just Kidding! Yes! Yes! Yes! and Yes!
Now this story had some of my least favorite cliches, but I found there were moments of emotion that were very touching. Jack's family was told that he's died in the Gulf War 18 years ago, so he is forbidden to have any contact with them,for their safety. However, we see him "stalking" the website of his father's dentist practice. He "googles" his mom and finds out that she passed several years back due to Breast Cancer. His younger brother, is a dentist with Dad, and the youngest is in school to become an Opthamologist.(rebel) So, to see that even though he is the tough guy, he hurts knowing what he's missed, although has no (NO) desire to go to dental school. (Whew! not typical hero stuff) Ashley is the Martha Stewart "Clone" member of the family, so everyone sees her as fragile. They take matters into their own hands, and confront Jack. Go Away, and Never Come Back, basically covers the conversation. Ashley is not happy about their interferance and finally decides to follow her heart. So we see, Jack and Ashley both grow a little.