This Winter Night
by Janice Sims, contemporary (2013)
Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86324-2

Lauren Gaines and Colton Riley were, technically, on opposite sides. Were, that is. You see, her now ex-husband Adam and Colton are hated rivals, constantly going after the same contracts, and Adam isn't above bribing the right people and generally playing dirty. Still, Colton keeps getting the upper hand because he's the hero and heroes always win. In spite, Adam bought the cottage next to the holiday getaway of Colton's parents in the North Carolina rustic countryside. This is how Lauren eventually get to know Colton's parents and they became close.

When the story opens, Colton's father recently passed away. In grief, Colton drives to his parents' country house, but he isn't thinking clearly so he is not prepared at all when the snow storm hits. He reaches the cottage, but it doesn't have electricity. He decides to try his luck with the house next door. Fortunately, Lauren is in, seeking her own private time after her recent divorce with Adam. What follows is some hot snowed-in sizzling of the bed sheets. Would things get awkward, however, when they have to go back to the real world?

This Winter Night is a good example of how to follow the Kimani formula and still produce an enjoyable read. Colton and Lauren are, naturally, beautiful people, and as their family members and all, but the author lets me know of this without going overboard and reminding me of their physical perfection every few pages to the point of overkill. More importantly, these characters resemble people (albeit idealized ones) - they speak, feel, and behave like people may do in real life. They have some pretty good chemistry and their romance feels natural, unforced.

The secondary characters know their place, so to speak. They have their roles to play here, and their scenes feel like organic parts of the story. They interact with the main characters to make the story flow better, instead of to scream at me that their books are next and I must buy them all.

All of this makes This Winter Night a solid read in many ways. The only problem, perhaps, is that the last few dozen of pages are, curiously enough, spent mostly to set up the romance in the next book. The story of Lauren and Colton reached a climax a while back before that point, so these pages feel like filler. Still, This Winter Night does most of everything right, making it one of the more enjoyable Kimani books to come my way.

Rating: 84

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