Some Kind of Wonderful is full of interesting characters, people you'd want to be friends with in real life. Carol Baker moved to Christmas, California, two years ago, and has a successful shop selling candles and keepsakes and Christmas themed decorations. She has carved out a happy life for herself in this weird little tourist town.
I say weird because I'm not sure I would want to live there myself. The entire town stays decorated for Christmas all year round. There is a permanent Nativity scene set up in the town square, the local businesses include the Reindeer Cafe, the Ho-Ho-Hotel, Elve's Hardware and Christmas Carol's (the heroine's store), and the streets have names such as North Pole and Jingle Bell Way.
Jack Reilly grew up in Christmas, and is back in town, temporarily, to fill in for the local sheriff who has been ill. Jack used to be an LAPD cop, but left the force, and he took this temporary position very grudgingly. He's anxious for the sheriff to come back to work so he can get back out of town. He's surly and always scowling, with shadows in his eyes.
One night Carol is walking her dog through the town square, and finds a baby lying in the Nativity scene's manger. A real, live baby, only a few hours old. She takes the baby to her friend Phoebe's clinic, and that's when she meets Jack, who is of course called to investigate. Jack's sister, Maggie, is the local county welfare officer, and when Carol volunteers to be the baby's temporary emergency foster mother, Maggie agrees.
Having grown up in the foster care system, Carol has always longed for home and family. She doesn't expect to keep baby Liz forever, she is just determined that the baby not wind up at a group home, where row upon row of babies lie in cribs waiting for someone to pay attention to them.
Carol and Jack are of course attracted to each other, but Jack keeps her at a distance, while moping around and glaring at everyone. Honestly, what is it about a man like Jack that is so appealing? I've not actually known one in real life, but I do love a moody angtsy hero in a romance novel.
I was swept up in this story pretty quickly, and really enjoyed the author's voice. Lots of humor. While the identity of the biological mother of the baby isn't revealed until the last quarter of the book, it was pretty obvious early one who she was, at least to the reader, though not to the other characters. But I think the author intended for us to figure it out, as she slowly fleshed that character out and made us sympathize with her. The ending was predictable and a little sappy, but then I would have been upset if it had ended any differently.
Well, actually, that's not quite accurate. SPOILER ALERT - STOP HERE IF YOU DON'T LIKE SPOILERS:
In my mind, I pictured Carol taking both mother and baby under her wing, letting them both live with her and taking care of baby while mom went to college, but not actually adopting the baby as her own child. But then, I kind of forgot about Jack becoming a part of Carol's life also, because my mind left him out of that scenario. So obviously the author knew better than me how to end the story.
This is the first book I've read by Maureen Child, and when I looked at her back list on her website I realized that she has written a lot of books. Many of them are of the Harlequin/Silhouette variety, but I'm more eager to find her other contemporary novels first.
(I purchased this book at a library book sale – based on the cover which caught my eye.)