Jill McCall ends a relationship that's comfortable, but empty, then gets laid off from her job. She's ready for a change, which is promised by working as a housekeeper and caregiver for a child and an elderly woman in the country. Checking out the place before she applies for the job, Jill is accused of tresspassing by Dustin Reed, who placed the ad. A baby abandoned under a nearby tree distracts them from their argument. Dustin at first assumes Jill was leaving the baby. Despite the rocky start, Jill consents to stay, helping Dustin take care of his aging mother, his young son and the infant.

Good and evil clash with outstanding effect in Tina Leonard's innovative tale. A marvelously subtle underlying humor and serene holiday glow soothe even as a mercenary stalker and a grandmother's distorted family values make you want to check under the bed. (Jan., 400 pp., $3.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger