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The Promise of Christmas    by Tara Taylor Quinn order for
Promise of Christmas
by Tara Taylor Quinn
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton

The story in The Promise of Christmas centers on Leslie Sanderson and a secret she's kept half her life. Her brother Cal has just died, and his best friend, Kip Webster, gives her the news. Leslie had a crush on Kip when they were growing up, but Kip was unaware of it, and she was too shy to let him know. Leslie's and Cal's father passed away when they were young, and Cal became head of the household. Leslie and her mother looked up to him because of what he did to keep the family together. He was always there for them despite being so young.

Leslie is now thirty years old, and had not seen Cal for many years. She kept her distance, living a solitary life in Phoenix, while Cal stayed in their Ohio hometown. After the funeral, Leslie and Kip learn that Cal had two children, and was raising them with the help of their grandmother Ada. Though Cal never married his children's mother, he made sure they were cared for when she died. Cal's will asks that Leslie take in his daughter Kayla, and Kip his son Jonathan. But in a perfect world, the two children shouldn't be separated, and their mother was African American. Neither Leslie nor Kip have experience raising children, let alone children of mixed heritage. And Leslie still deals with the secret demons that she has carried since she was twelve years old. Neither feels like parent material, but do they have a choice?

The Promise of Christmas draws a picture of two people who are set in their ways but try to change their lifestyles to take care of the children of someone they loved. Underlying the story is a terrible secret, that Leslie hides from everyone. Only at the end of the novel is it revealed what happened to her, and why she could never tell a soul about it. For the most part, this book didn't bring the tears to my eyes that I expected, but time for that hankie came at the very end, with the epilogue.

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