Things have not worked out quite the way Emilie Dalton planned. Emilie left her life in Atlanta to move to Boston to help raise her drug-addicted/ alcoholic sister's children. Emilie knew she could handle being supporting and raising the kids, but when she suddenly loses her job and is evicted from their apartment, social services take Alanna, Josie and Brendon away from her.

After going through the system as a child, Emilie is not about to let them take the kids and split them up. So over Thanksgiving, Emilie bundles them all into her car and heads out to start a new life. A nasty snowstorm strands them in the small town of Bethlehem, NY. Hungry, frozen and tired, Emilie is at her wits end. A strangely persistent and friendly waitress suggests they check out an empty house in town. Before she knows what's happened, everyone in town has assumed that Emilie is the niece of the late owner of the old Victorian home. Emilie has run out of options, so she and the children continue the charade. To protect themselves, Alanna, Josie and Brendon call Emilie "momma."

Policeman Nathan Bishop is attracted to Emilie from the moment he sees her. Her kids also quickly captivate him. His own tragic past has made Nathan slow to trust people. He makes the circle of their unusual little family complete, but what happens when the truth is exposed?

Award-winning Ms. Pappano tugs hard on readers' heartstrings in this special holiday story of love, forgiveness and friendship. (Dec., 405 pp., $5.50)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith