by Lori Avocato

ISBN: 1-55316-016-9
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Nick Hunter was tired and all he wanted to do was get a good night’s sleep after traveling through bad weather to get to his mountain getaway. But once he gets there, he finds that someone is sleeping in his bed and gets thunked in the head by a lamp before he can growl, “Who’s been sleeping in my bed?”

Lani Cabot is on her way to her mother’s house for Christmas when she encounters bad weather and gets stuck in the middle of nowhere. With two baby girls to care for, she is forced to abandon her car to get help. Instead of finding people, she comes across a lonely cabin on her trek, and like Goldilocks, proceeds to make herself at home in a deserted, but fully furnished, mountain cabin.

Nick tries very hard to ignore and accommodate his new roommates at the same time. Still grieving for his lost family, his anger is directed at Lani for inadvertently intruding on his solitary existence. Lani, in response to Nick’s hostility, just continues to make herself at home anyway – with twin girls to care for, she doesn’t have time to deal with Nick’s bad temper! Having just adopted twin babies, Lani is a new and very nervous mother who relies very heavily on parenting books rather than common sense. And when Nick comes to the rescue in caring for the babies, she’s left feeling inadequate as a parent and, in turn, gets mad at Nick for it!

Lani and Nick are tolerable characters – Nick is still angrily grieving for his family a couple of years after their demise and it’s hard to believe that he could fall for Lani and the babies in such a short period of time, even in such forced circumstances. At least, I wasn’t convinced that he is at least in the process of getting over his loss before he met Lani – which would have been more plausible. And the chemistry and sexual tension between Nick and Lani falls a bit flat – situations where Nick is forced to care for the babies when Lani becomes ill, and when Lani shows a bit of bravery by scaring away a bear to “save” Nick from harm seem somewhat contrived. I appreciated more of the quiet moments that Nick and Lani spent talking and getting to know one another in front of the fire or dining table, or even when they both care for the babies together - but although intimate, it still didn't seem the kind of intimacy that encourages sexual chemistry.

If the story was a bit shorter, perhaps the impact of Lani and Nick’s intimate circumstances might have been more intense, even with babies around. But I think too many contrived events (Lani turning ill, her fear of bears, and a fire are some examples as well as too much emotional baggage from both their pasts) interfere with Lani and Nick’s romance - which leaves the happily-ever-after ending on the merely passable side.

Reviewed in June 2002 by Veronica.

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