Captain Caine MacIntosh is a Marine, recently returned from the Middle East. As part of a partnership between Macy's Department Store and his military base, he is manning a toy donation center at the store when an adorable tot comes up to him asking if he can get a letter to Santa. All the little boy wants is for himself and his mom to be safe this Christmas. The simple request stirs Caine's protective instincts, and one look at the boy's mom stirs both his heart and his desires. In an instant, Caine knows he would do anything to keep this pair safe, not just for the holidays, but forever.
As a single mother, Danika Lionel has worked hard to make a good life for herself and her son. She'd like nothing more than to move into a better neighborhood, but right now, she can't afford it. When Caine shows up on her doorstep offering her everything she could have dreamed of and more, she's not certain if she can trust him. But between Caine's charming personality and his irresistible sex appeal, not to mention the way he treats her son like a real father would, it isn't long before she's warming up to the handsome Marine.
Toy Soldiers is a cute, holiday-themed short story about a Marine, just returned from the Middle East who falls in love at first sight with a single mother and her young son. He then sets about to give them both a Christmas they'll never forget. Caine is a dreamy romantic hero. He's tender and loving toward both Danika and Joshua and not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve where they're concerned. He's a true gentleman, never pressing Danika for sex, and in fact, holding back, so that she wouldn't feel obligated just because of his kindness. Yet, once things do heat up between them, he's the consummate lover, always attentive to her needs. Caine is also strong and protective, doing everything in his power to keep Danika and Joshua safe from the neighborhood gang-bangers who are trying to shake her down for protection money. All that, and he's a cowboy in his life away from the Marines too. What more could a girl ask for?;-)
Danika was a likable and admirable heroine. When Joshua's biological father found out she was pregnant he wanted her to get an abortion, but Danika refused, even though it also meant being ostracized by her family. She has worked hard to make a decent life for herself and her son and would love nothing more than to move to a safer neighborhood, but she can't afford it. When Caine comes along, treating her son like his own flesh and blood and offering her a better life, she understandably can't resist the handsome Marine, and neither can her son. Joshua is as cute as a button too.
Toy Soldiers is a fast-paced story that takes place over just a few days time, so some readers might have trouble buying into Caine and Danika making a lifetime commitment to each other in such a short time. I admit the love at first sight trope often doesn't work for me either, and I did have to suspend disbelief to some extent with this one. However, maybe it was the magic of the Christmas season or something else, but ultimately, I couldn't help but think these three characters would make a great family unit. That's not to say the story didn't have a few weaknesses though. The technical aspects of the writing could have been stronger. I found lots of typos and sentences that could have been worded to flow a bit better. I was also a little bothered by Caine and Danika not using protection or even discussing it. Since Danika had already been through one unplanned pregnancy, she should have known better. Lastly, the author used Marine and soldier interchangeably, and I'm pretty sure that most Marines would get quite offended by being called a soldier. Overall though, these were relatively minor things in an otherwise enjoyable story. It was just the right mix of sweet and sexy. The love scenes are pretty hot, and the author does use some frank language, but I wouldn't quite classify it as erotic. All in all, Toy Soldiers was a fun little novella that I would recommend to anyone looking for a quick, heartwarming holiday read with a little spice on the side.
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