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The Lawman's Holiday Wish (Love Inspired Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Second-Chance Christmas 

No one in Kirkwood Lake seems willing to forget, or forgive, Rainey McKinney's troubled past. But Rainey can't afford to let that bother her. Her top priority is rebuilding her life and being a good mom to her twin daughters. Even handsome deputy sheriff Luke Campbell can't distract her, tempting as he is. She's determined to keep her distance, but as his son and her girls form a special bond, Rainey and Luke can't help but do the same. Can Rainey ...

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The Lawman's Holiday Wish (Love Inspired Series)

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Overview


Second-Chance Christmas 

No one in Kirkwood Lake seems willing to forget, or forgive, Rainey McKinney's troubled past. But Rainey can't afford to let that bother her. Her top priority is rebuilding her life and being a good mom to her twin daughters. Even handsome deputy sheriff Luke Campbell can't distract her, tempting as he is. She's determined to keep her distance, but as his son and her girls form a special bond, Rainey and Luke can't help but do the same. Can Rainey put her past behind her once and for all and embrace a future full of hope—and love? 

Kirkwood Lake: A town full of heart and hope.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460323335
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 12/1/2013
  • Series: Kirkwood Lake
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 131,889
  • File size: 288 KB

Meet the Author


Author of fifteen 4 and 4.5 star novels, Ruth is thrilled to be paid for something she'd gladly do for free: write sweet stories that touch hearts and souls. Born into poverty, she's unafraid to delve into life's tough issues, but believes redeeming love and God's grace can heal all wounds. Visit her on Facebook where she cheerfully exploits the cuteness of kids and small animals to sell uplifting books of faith, hope and love... while drinking coffee, a mainstay! 


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Read an Excerpt

Deputy Sheriff Luke Campbell aimed his cruiser for the Kirkwood Lake Elementary School with measured reluctance. A mandatory meeting with his five-year-old son's principal and teacher didn't bode well for him or the boy. It didn't take an early-education degree to tell Luke what he already knew. Aiden was quiet, withdrawn, uncertain, timid and refused to join activities.

Luke had hoped being in school would help, but this was the second phone call in three weeks regarding Aiden's issues. How much was real and how much exaggerated by a smart kid who knew how to evoke adult sympathy to the max?

Luke didn't have a clue.

Did he tend to make excuses for the boy?

Yes.

Did he have good reason?

Yes again, but unless he wanted to be a failure as a parent, he had to find a way to bring Aiden around. The sooner the better.

He's five. Give him time.

Luke shoved the thought aside. He'd been telling himself that for nearly three years, since Aiden lost his mother. School was important, and getting along with other kids was invaluable, all the books said so. They called it "socialization."

Luke was the third of seven Campbells, three of whom were adopted. In the Campbell house, you either socialized quickly or got taught a lesson by your big brothers.

Luke's sweet mother had been praying for Aiden's situation to improve.

Luke used to pray. Back before he realized the improbability of a just and beneficent God. Because if God did exist, He'd messed up the job, and Luke knew that firsthand.

But if it made his mother feel better to pray, who was he to argue? Jenny Campbell was a great lady, a wonderful mom and grandma, and Luke loved and admired her. He'd leave the praying to her and her church friends.

An aging Camry darted into the school driveway ahead of him, then pulled to a quick, crooked stop in the mostly empty parking lot.

Luke angled into the spot alongside the other car and climbed out. He turned and locked gazes with the dark-haired woman staring at him, her unadorned hands grasping the top of the car door.

Breathtaking beauty. Tall and slim. Scared to death.

You're in uniform, Einstein.

Of course. She thought he'd followed her into the school lot to issue a ticket, but she hadn't done anything wrong. The posted signs were school-in-session speed limits, and she hadn't exactly careened around the corner on two wheels.

But her face held more than concerned chagrin. It held fear, and the cop in him wondered why she feared police. He jerked his head toward the building as he walked that way. "You here for a meeting, too?"

Relief eased her jaw and the set of her shoulders. She nodded as she matched his stride. "Yes."

Vulnerable but tough; they were two red warning flags, despite the instant attraction. Luke stayed away from vulnerable women. Once burned, twice shy.

Tough women weren't his cup of tea, either.

His older brother Jack had scolded him the week before. Said he was afraid to shop around because he couldn't find June Cleaver.

Was Jack right?

Most likely. But this woman wasn't making eye contact with him, so the attraction must be one-sided.

Or she's hiding something.

And that was just one more reason to keep his distance. If he could get beyond the caramel skin. The past-her-shoulders, wavy dark hair. Eyes round and deep-toned. "You've got a kid here?"

"Two."

That surprised him. She looked young, mid-twenties. Too young to have two elementary school kids, at any rate. But maybe she wasn't too young. He might be feeling old before his time.

He stepped forward and swung the door wide for her.

She glanced up to thank him.

Time stopped.

So did she.

Her eyes, a blend of storm-cloud gray and milk-chocolate brown, were a shade he had no name for. Brows, thin and arched, framed long lashes that looked real. Her mouth, soft and full, was perfectly shaped….

No makeup.

Unusual. Didn't all beautiful women wear makeup these days?

She opened her mouth as if to speak, then stopped, pressed her lips together, turned and moved through the door. But that moment—seconds that felt like long, drawn-out minutes—assured him the electricity went both ways.

They walked down one hall side by side, turned right, then proceeded to the principal's office.

Mr. O'Mara stepped through his door. He nodded to Luke and sent a look of commiseration to the woman. "Rainey, I'm sorry, but you're late. Deputy Campbell's meeting is scheduled to start now. Can you wait here and we'll meet about the twins once we're done talking with Luke?"

Rainey.

Rainey Cabrera McKinney, the woman who'd done time years ago for a crime she didn't commit. A woman who'd skated the edge of the law too often as a kid. His friend Piper McKinney had been raising Rainey's twin daughters until Rainey returned to the family farm last month.

"Rainey wants to make amends," Piper had told him.

The word on the street, and the look on her face, said the whole making-amends thing wasn't going too well. Luke's mother had a saying: "Small-town folks have little to talk about, and drawn-out winters to do it."

With winter approaching, Piper McKinney's sister might be in for a long, hard haul.

Rainey nodded, stepped back and took a seat on the hand-crafted wooden bench outside the office. "It's no problem, Mr. O'Mara. I'll wait here."

Deep and poignant, her soft "Tex-Mex" voice complemented her looks, but that could be another strike against her. Kirkwood Lake was a great town, but with the summer recreational season over, people would have too much time on their hands. That could make things tough for the woman to his left. As if taking the fall for a dishonest friend and doing prison time wasn't rough enough.

But right now he had his own personal dragon to face. He stepped into the office, gave a brisk nod to Miss Patterson, Aiden's teacher, and took a seat. "About my son…"

Rainey drew a deep, calming breath.

The deputy had surprised her in the parking lot. She'd turned, seen his cruiser and frozen.

His look said he'd wondered why, but when the principal called her by name, she'd read awareness in the officer's eyes.

He knew who she was. What she'd done. And what she'd failed to do by leaving her daughters in others' care for three long years.

You have been cleansed, my daughter, clothed in the light. Grace has come upon you as the dewfall…

She loved that image. Silent, encompassing, peaceful.

Then why did her gut clench? Her thoughts ran rampant, wondering what the girls' teachers would say.

Rainey stared at the door, wishing her mother or sister could have come along. But they were shorthanded at their Western New York dairy today, and someone had to watch Sonya and Dorrie.

You won't have to worry about being shorthanded if your customer base keeps shrinking.

With Rainey's return, customers at the dairy had diminished, sales were down and profits eroding, all because Rainey had taken the helm a few weeks back.

Her mother brushed it off. Lucia McKinney embraced an "and this too shall pass" mentality. She believed things would work out in God's time, one way or another.

So did Piper.

Not Rainey. She hadn't come home to mess things up more thoroughly; she'd come back to make things right. Set the record straight. And reclaim her position as the twins' mother, a role she'd abdicated to keep them safe when a rogue cop threatened Rainey's freedom…and her baby daughters.

Old guilt pricked her new and growing faith. Her girls were having trouble in school.

Were they following her example? Were they incorrigible? Or were they just normal kids fighting change, as Piper and her mother insisted?

The murmur of voices in the room said the officer— Luke Campbell, she remembered—was being bombarded. Maybe they'd get it out of their systems with the big, strong deputy and go easy on her.

The door to the office opened.

Luke came out, looking none too happy.

Mr. O'Mara's expression wasn't any better.

The teacher looked aggrieved. None of this boded well for Rainey's time in the hot seat.

Luke waved her in. "Your turn in the line of fire, I believe."

"Luke, we—"

"Mr. O'Mara, I understand where you're coming from." Luke turned to face the principal, and from the clipped sound of his voice, he wasn't pleased with what had been said. "But I'm not letting anyone label Aiden at this point in his life. Yes, he has emotional issues. We're trying to fix that. But I'm not allowing him to be placed in a special education classroom because his teacher expects a kinder-gartner to instantly conform to a new situation."

"But—"

"We'll talk at conference time in November," Luke insisted, and Rainey had to admit the guy had a point. Maybe some five-year-olds could adjust quickly to a new setting and new people. But was it that big a deal if a kindergart-ner took a few weeks to settle in?

She wouldn't have thought so, but then she wasn't an example of stellar behavior. And her lack of experience put her maternal instincts into question.

The teacher's noncommittal face said she disagreed. Mr. O'Mara appeared caught in the middle, but he stepped back, defusing the situation. "We'll keep you apprised of Aiden's progress. Miss Patterson and I both thought you should be brought on board from the beginning. You know we don't make these recommendations lightly."

Luke faced the principal directly. "We didn't used to, Frank. But kids get pigeonholed more easily today than in the past, and I'd like a little more time for Aiden to adjust. He's not causing a problem, right?"

"No."

"It's hard to cause a problem when you do nothing," Miss Patterson replied. Her tone of voice was condescending and sanctimonious, as if she'd just been appointed the resident expert on five-year-olds.

That made Rainey suck in a deep breath.

Educated people intimidated her.

Yes, she'd gotten her associate's degree in veterinary technology while serving time. And she'd worked as a vet tech for three years outside Chicago. But a two-year degree didn't put her on equal footing with a licensed teacher who'd obtained her master's degree in early education.

Luke must have caught her apprehension from the corner of his eye, because he leveled a look at her, one that intimated they were in this together, and said, "I'll see you outside, Rainey."

The teacher's gaze sharpened.

Mr. O'Mara showed no reaction. He just waved to Luke and turned toward Rainey.

A second teacher stepped into the room—Mrs. Lough-lin, Dorrie's teacher. Rainey knew her. She used to be a steady customer at the dairy store, and her kids had gone to school with Rainey and Piper. Would Rainey's past color the older woman's opinion? Should she consider sending the twins to the small Christian school over in Bemus Point, where her youthful indiscretions weren't so well-known?

She'd think about that later. Right now she needed to face these professionals and prove she was capable of mothering her girls in proper fashion.

She sat. Miss Patterson took a chair to her left, Mrs. Loughlin to her right. Frank completed the circle by drawing his chair forward. "Thank you for coming in, Rainey."

"I'm sorry I was late. I know how important it is for the girls to have a successful school experience from the beginning."

"Mmm-hmm." Miss Patterson's thin smile said she agreed. Her posture said she doubted Rainey's ability to ensure any such thing. "Sonya's a delight. A true treasure. So sweet, so endearing." Her insincere smile came with an incoming-missile warning attached.

Miss Patterson's brains might intimidate Rainey. Her veiled contempt didn't. "But?"

Mr. O'Mara frowned.

Mrs. Loughlin sat quietly, hands folded.

Miss Patterson leaned in, cool as a fish on ice at the Saturday marketplace. "She doesn't want to do anything without her sister."

"Identical twins are often very close."

"It makes things difficult," the teacher continued. "She stares at the door, willing it to open. She's distracted every time people go by in the hall. And she doesn't mix well with the other children."

"Is she disruptive?"

"No."

"Annoying others?"

"No. Just…off in her own little world."

"So she's having adjustment problems in a new setting, and with a whole new set of expectations from strangers. That sounds fairly normal for a five-year-old." Rainey might not be licensed to teach, but Sonya's difficulties didn't seem out of the ordinary for her first month in school.

"Rainey, I think that sums it up quite well," Mr. O'Mara said. His tone said he didn't find the child's prognosis worrisome. "And I think Sonya will do fine once she gets over her shyness and her fear. But I needed you to hear Miss Patterson's concerns firsthand."

"Which I appreciate, Mr. O'Mara. And now, what about Dorrie?" She turned to Mrs. Loughlin, and her hopes plummeted as she read the negative look on the older woman's face.

Mrs. Loughlin wasn't a bad person. Her son had wanted to date Rainey in high school and his mother had been against it. Rainey didn't blame her. Staying away from Rainey's crowd had been in his best interests.

Now she wished people could see the new and improved woman she'd become. She'd returned to Kirkwood Lake determined to set the record straight. What did she have to show for her first two months? She'd messed up her daughters and eroded the dairy's customer base, and with the all-important end-of-year sales approaching, she needed to find some way to fix things.

Fast.

"They may look alike, but Dorrie is quite different from her sister in many ways. I'm sure you've noticed that, Mrs. Loughlin."

The teacher listed Dorrie's negative attributes first, which raised the principal's brow. "She's tough, bossy, opinionated, and would take over the class in a heartbeat if I let her."

That sure sounded like Dorrie. Rainey met Mr. O'Mara's gaze. "And how is this being handled in school?"

Mrs. Loughlin cut in before he had a chance to respond. "I've tried cautions, both verbal and physical. You know, a hand on her shoulder, a warning to slow down and wait her turn. I've employed studious ignoring, quiet reminders, and I'm thinking of setting up a sticker program to see if that helps the situation."

"A sticker program?" Rainey repeated. "A reward program, you mean. Stickers for good behavior."

"A move like that can be beneficial to all concerned."

Rainey breathed deeply, considering.

They'd called her on the carpet because one girl was quiet and sad about being separated from her twin, while the other was being a rambunctious, noisy twit.

And they'd drawn Rainey in to let her know they wanted to do a sticker reward program to help encourage good behavior? Or to make the point that her kids were apples that hadn't fallen far from the tree?

Yes, the girls needed to behave. They needed to learn. But they were only three weeks into the year.

Luke's words came back to her. He'd said he'd readdress the issues at conference time in November if they still existed. Well, that sounded good to her. "I will be happy to do whatever it takes to reinforce their good behavior in school and at home. Their education is very important to us. And then we can meet again at their scheduled conference in November to reevaluate."

"Us?" Miss Patterson asked doubtfully. She exchanged a not-so-furtive look with Mrs. Loughlin, and in that moment, Rainey knew she'd never convince these women of her change of heart.

She cleared her throat, mustered a smile and stood. "My family. The McKinneys. We'll work together to help the girls."

"Wonderful." Mr. O'Mara stood and extended his hand. "I knew we could count on you, Rainey."

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 15, 2014

    From the moment I started reading Rainy and Luke's story I felt

    From the moment I started reading Rainy and Luke's story I felt I was a part of their story. I got so caught up emotionally with one scene I had tears running down my face and dripping off my chin. I would have to stop at times and wipe the tears away so I could see to read on. Knowing Ashley's background I was surprised at how intellect she was. It reminded me that we're not to judge others and to forgive.
    I'm loving Ms. Herne's Kirkwood Lake series. I can't wait to see which emotions and lesson her next Kirkwood Lake story will have for me.

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  • Posted November 26, 2013

    What a wonderful story. Getting to know Rainey and Luke and th

    What a wonderful story. Getting to know Rainey and Luke and the town of Kirkwood Lake. You can see how sometimes we judge others based on past, with out showing God's love and forgiveness. We also can see how we blame ourself for things that are completely out of our control instead of just trusting God to do what we know is best for us, even if we can't see it now.
    I enjoyed the personalities of both Luke, Rainey and their families. You just feel like you became a part of the whole story. This story grabs you from the beginning and just keeps you interested throughout the whole book. I always love a good, clean, christian romance with something else to learn along the way.(less)

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