Christmas for the Deputy (Bad Boys of Last Stand) – ARC Review

48216695._SY475_Christmas for the Deputy
By Nicole Helm
Release Date: October 17, 2019
Publisher:  Tule Publishing
Book #2 in the Bad Boys of Last Stand series
Number of pages:  210
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from publisher
Contemporary Romance/Holidays M/F
Rating: R
Read 10/7/19 to 10/8/19


Ethan Thompson has been a part of the Martin family since he was a troubled teen and Susannah Martin saved him. He’s always done everything in his power to help the Martins, especially oldest daughter Penelope. But he’s always made sure to keep himself just separate enough to safeguard his heart against the straight-talking beauty.

Pen Martin-Wakefield moved home to Last Stand, Texas, with her three girls hoping it would give them all a fresh start after her husband’s tragic death. She’s ready to move on, and as she deals with the stresses of a holiday season and a broken arm, she realizes Ethan is always the one she’s leaned on.

Ethan’s determined to resist Pen and her girls. He’s got too many secrets and scars to be any good for them, but as a Christmas in Last Stand works its magic, Ethan begins to find out just how tenacious Pen is and how lonely his heart has been.

The boys (men) from Last Stand really tug at my heartstrings.  Ethan is no exception.  Not only does he internalize so much hurt, but he does it with a façade of calm and control. Nobody sees past that façade until Penelope.  And Pen didn’t see the real Ethan until the real Pen came out.

Being the oldest of three girls, it was Penelope’s natural inclination to take over the nurturing role when their mother passed away.  Then she got married young and had children herself and that nurturing became more intense and gave her a strong need for control and order.  All the while she compared herself to her deceased mother, never  feeling quite like she’s living up to the memories she has of the woman.

It’s obvious that Pen and Ethan are perfect for each other.  Not only does Ethan bring a sense of calm to Pen, but he is head over heels for her daughters and they for him.  Yet nobody can seem to admit what’s right in front of everyone’s faces.

I love this story and I love the characters. Unfortunately, I was missing the chemistry.  Even though I think these characters are a perfect match, it wasn’t coming off the pages for me here.  There’s no rhyme or reason for that. I can’t explain it at all.  It seems like all of the ingredients were there for a perfect recipe, but there was still something missing. Which makes me sad since I love everything about this story.

A quick warning for those of you haven’t read the first in this series, Homecoming for the Cowboy; I think you’ll be missing some key points about the way the Ethan and his brothers and Penelope and her sisters were raised if you don’t read that first story.  Sure, you can read this as a standalone, but you’ll be missing a depth to this story if you do that.  Plus, that first book is amazing and a must read.

3.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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