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    Review of A SOLDIER'S RETURN by Judy Christenberry (see her website)


    Harlequin American #1073, July, 2005

    Captain James (Jim) Barlow is home from Iraq, home from the marines, and surrounded by family. His birth family was split up when his parents were killed in an auto accident and Jim lost track of them all--except the one brother who followed him into the marines and gave up his life in Iraq. When his fiancee died shortly after Jim was sent to Iraq, the lesson became too obvious to ignore. Jim was a curse. He lost anyone he cared about. So, all he needs to do is get on with his life--without caring about anyone.

    Private investigator Carrie Abrams has helped track down Jim's missing siblings--from the time when Vanessa Shaw first learned that she had been adopted and had siblings. Jim has been a special obsession of hers--and she's had his picture on her desk for a year. But the man who walks into her office isn't quite what she had expected. For one thing, he seems to resist the wonderful family he is now part of. For another, he becomes fiercely protective of Carrie. Since Carrie's job entails some danger, protectiveness is not all bad, but it becomes bad when he starts interfering with her cases and her judgement. Still, Jim is too sexy for words and Carrie finds herself torn between attraction and the certainty that something is wrong.

    A little matchmaking from Jim's sisters pushes the two together, but Carrie can never give her heart to someone who can't treat her as a partner, as a competent woman--and Jim's military training and his old-fashioned ways seem to make him unable to do so. Jim and Carrie can't spend time together without fighting, but can't seem to stay apart, either.

    When a case sends them to Las Vegas, pretending to be a newlywed couple in their hotel's honeymoon suite, fighting the attraction becomes even more difficult. And Jim gets a lesson in how dangerous a trained woman truly can be.

    Author Judy Christenberry (see more reviews of novels by Christenberry) continues her CHILDREN OF TEXAS series with Jim's story. As the recovered family continues to grow, Christenberry builds on her family theme, with Will, Vivian, and Vanessa playing strong supporting roles. As always, the course of love runs a bit smoother when family matchmakers are there to push it along. I especially enjoyed the way Christenberry delivered a more liberated woman--capable of taking care of herself and of pushing back when Jim's protectiveness veered too close to sexism.

    Judy Christenberry fans will definitely want to pick up this entertaining addition to the CHILDREN OF TEXAS series.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 6/19/05

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