Captured by the Spanish off the coast of Southern California, ship surgeon Thomas Wilkie is left behind when his shipmates bargain for a vessel to take them up the coast. As the only physician in Alta he is in great demand, yet he longs to return to Scotland. It may be “Christmas in Paradise” but when the lovely and haughty Laura Marie Ortiz, daughter of the local auditor, falls on hard times, Thomas saves her with a proposal of a marriage of conve- nience that becomes one of true partnership and continues when he is rescued and they return home.
Their daughter Lily volunteers as one of Florence Nightingale’s nurses during the Crimean War. She longs to bring a Christmas tree to the wounded soldiers. Her plan to obtain the tree leads her to American observer and hospital administrator Trey Wharton. The local sultan brings them together as “O Christmas Tree” arrives in lights at the hospital.
Like the members of his family before him, Captain Wilkie Wharton is away for Christmas fighting in the Indian Wars of the American West when he finds love in an unexpected place and learns that war and peace can sometimes live together even if there is “No Crib for a Bed.” (HARLEQUIN, Dec., 300 pp., $6.25)