Harlequin Winter Believer Blog Tour – Her Christmas Dilemma by Brenda Minton {Excerpt}

Another title I’ve recently had the chance to read compliments of the publisher is the recent release, Her Christmas Dilemma by Brenda Minton. It’s just one of the books featured in the Harlequin Winter Believers Blog Tour. It’s a part of the Love Inspired imprint of Harlequin, featuring inspirational romance. I had a few mixed feelings during this one – it still felt a little “judgy” to me. I don’t want to give away any major spoilers but think the main female lead didn’t need redemption in the classic sense – she needed love and support and a really good therapist. Regardless, my overall impression was that this was a sweet, heartfelt read with a leaning towards faith over religion,

Excerpt:

I’ll take the job,” she said, as if they’d been discussing the job.

“I’m sorry?”

“Have you hired someone?” She glanced at her watch. “In the past fifteen minutes?”

“No, I haven’t. I…” He didn’t know what to say. This woman had secrets. She had a brokenness that scared the daylights out of him.

But she made his niece smile. For that matter, she made him smile.

“If you’d rather find someone else, I understand. I’m obviously not experienced. I’ve already admitted that I can’t cook and I’m also only here temporarily, but I could fill the spot until you find someone more suitable.”

“What made you change your mind?” he asked, glad that his niece had wandered ahead to talk to a friend.

She shrugged a shoulder and glanced around. “A lot of reasons. Shay needs someone who understands what she’s going through. I do know how much it hurts to feel abandoned by the people who should care the most. Also, I feel the need to do more than sit by myself in Nan’s boat shop. Plus, Nan fired me this morning.”

“She fired you?” He couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Yeah, she did.” Her eyes briefly twinkled. “She said I’m in her way. She likes her solitary time. She doesn’t mind my help, but she doesn’t want me to become a fixture in her shop.”

“Shay is a challenge,” he warned.

If she worked for him, could he remain impartial, not getting involved, not caring what her story might be? He doubted it. But he had to do what Shay’s parents hadn’t done: he had to put his niece first. For some reason, he thought this woman might be the right thing for Shay. For the time being.

“I need a challenge.” She smiled.

“I get weekly calls from the school. I think she thinks if she’s bad enough, her parents will ride to the rescue. They won’t.”

“I’m sorry about that. Parents aren’t always what we need them to be. Sometimes they can’t be, sometimes they choose not to be.”

It made him angry to think about his sister and brother-in-law, the choices they’d made putting them first and Shay last. Could this woman put Shay first? “She needs people who will support her but not allow her to get away with the trouble she’s causing.”

“I can be that person,” she assured him with a subtle lift of her chin. “Give me a week. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll go back to boats.”

He grinned. “I guess we can give it a one-week trial. Can you be at the house tomorrow at six?”

“So early?”

“Second thoughts?” he asked.

“Only for a moment,” she admitted. Then they were next in line to get plates, so they spoke no more on the subject.

Tucker was generally an optimistic person, but he knew that letting Clara into his home—and his life—was going to bring an array of problems.

First and foremost, he liked her. He liked her a lot. And that was a big problem.