Genre: Westerns

Sunday Spotlight: The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn

Posted October 25, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

An ex-soldier, has lost his way, and Emery, a woman running to find a new life, and five little rich girls just wanting to get home before Christmas.

When I started THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS, I knew it would be a historical set in 1867, starting in a small inland port when Trapper Hawkins takes a job to haul freight. The pay is good, maybe enough to give him a start, but the cargo is five girls.

I’ve driven the roads from Jefferson, Texas to Dallas many times. But this time, in my mind, I was making the journey in a wagon with outlaws determined to kidnap my cargo, the little girls.

The story came alive in my mind and I laughed then cried, then fell in love with my characters. I learned to survive in the untamed land and fight off outlaws.

I drove as the story played out in my head. In three hours I’d covered a month by wagon while fighting storms and hunting for my supper every night.

By the time I stopped in Dallas and pulled into a hotel, my head was packed. It took me two months to write it all down and I think “Father Goose,” the story of one broken soldier and a runaway woman risking their lives to save five little girls may very well be my favorite short story ever.

Celebrate the holiday by making the journey across Texas with me this Christmas.

Jodi Thomas

Sunday Spotlight: The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett DunnThe Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace, Scarlett Dunn
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Genres: Westerns
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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In these Texas-set stories of romance and adventure, the Civil War is over, Christmas is coming—and it’s time for three rugged fighters to become lovers...

FATHER GOOSE by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jodi Thomas

Dispirited by war, when Trapper Morgan accepts a job hauling five little rich girls to Dallas, all he cares about is the money. He doesn’t expect they’ll awaken his spirit—or that their intriguing nursemaid, Carolina, will awaken his heart. And when danger strikes as Christmas Eve nears, he definitely doesn’t expect Carolina and the girls to risk their lives—for him . . .

THE MISTLETOE PROMISE by Sharla Lovelace

A catastrophic storm, an ailing herd, and a failing cattle ranch have left Texas rancher Josie Bancroft in danger of losing everything her father worked for. Still, she’d rather die than merge with her neighbor rancher Benjamin Mason, the man who broke her heart years ago, on Christmas Eve. As old sparks fly and secrets are revealed, however, Ben is determined to help Josie—and prove that this time around can be different. That the misunderstandings of Christmas past need not define their future...

CHRISTMAS ROAD by Scarlett Dunn

Yellow Fever has hit Clint Mitchum’s Texas hometown and taken his father and siblings, leaving Clint ever more cynical. Racing homeward to be by his mother’s side, Clint finds only a note from her, asking that he help her caregiver, a young woman named Amelia. Assuming his mother has passed, in his grief Clint ventures out to search for Amelia—and finds the best of gifts—just in time for Christmas...

Excerpt

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace, & Scarlett Dunn

Excerpt from “Father Goose” by Jodi Thomas

Trapper spent the morning preparing for his new job as if it was an assignment during the war. He studied maps, learned a bit about his employer, the girls’ father, Colonel Gunter Chapman. He’d been an officer in the Mexican–American War back in the 1840s.He was ruthless and came home with injuries. But that hadn’t stopped him from moving farther west from the protection of even the forts and starting a huge ranch.

Trapper had seen that kind of man many times in the war. A king on his land.

Trapper bought clothes for winter, a new hat and a warm coat from his winnings last night. He’d worn most of his clothes too long for them to be presentable. Now, when he got to Dallas, he’d be dressed more like a cowboy, a Westerner. And, if the raiders killed him along the way, he’d have a fine funeral outfit.

Walking toward the dock, he planned. He’d meet the little ladies, tell them the rules for the trip, and get underway. He decided he only needed three rules. One: Be ready to travel at sunup. Two: Stop at midday for thirty minutes to rest, take care of private needs, and drink water. Three: At sundown make camp. He’d cook a meal of whatever he shot along the way or use the supplies.

When Trapper had checked the wagon, he noticed the teamster hadn’t packed but two blankets, so he bought the girls each one. After all, they were little girls, and they’d need comfort.

He also added apples and canned peaches to his load.

Trapper was feeling hopeful about the journey. He’d bought two extra rifles and several boxes of bullets. He’d get these girls home safe and collect his five hundred dollars. Then he’d drive away in his new wagon with Midnight tied to the back.

A man who has a wagon, a horse, and enough money in his pocket to buy land was rich indeed. For the first time since the war he allowed himself to dream. He thought about something besides surviving one more day.

As he waited, he saw a small widow lady sitting on a bench near the dock. Trapper remembered the teamster had told him to hire a woman to travel with him, but surely he could handle five little girls.

There were so many women in black right after the war, it seemed like every woman dressed the same. Strange, he thought; the men wore blue and gray, but all the widows wore black. Mourning had no side, no color.

The paddleboat pulled up to yells and waves from the waiting crowd. As cargo began to roll off the side, passengers walked off the front in a thin line. It wasn’t long before he saw a tall woman in a light blue cape marching with five little girls behind her. She had to be the nurse traveling with his cargo. They all wore a uniform of sunny blue and white. They reminded him of a mother goose and her goslings. He guessed he was about to become the father goose.

Trapper had no doubt these were his charges. The first girl was tall, only a head shorter than the nurse. Her blond hair was tied back, as if she was trying to look older. The next two were shorter, with auburn hair. The younger and thinner of the pair wore an old wool cap and seemed to be crying. The fourth girl was probably about five and was round as a goose egg. The last one, and the smallest, seemed to be having trouble staying in line. She weaved back and forth as she kept jumping up and down as if she could see everything if she was two inches higher.

Trapper straightened and removed his wide-brimmed hat. There were several families meeting travelers, but he was the only man standing alone in front of a small covered wagon. Eventually, the nurse would find him.

The tall woman weaved her way around groups of people and the girls followed in a row. Well, all but the last one followed. The littlest one seemed to be having trouble keeping up.

Finally, the lady noticed him and headed his way. She stopped three feet from him and the girls lined up behind her. Except number five, who bumped into four and almost knocked two and three out of line.

“Are you the driver for Colonel Chapman’s girls?” The woman’s voice was cold and held no hint of a Southern accent.

“I am.” Trapper bowed slightly, not sure what to say or do. He decided to keep the poker game quiet. “I’m Trapper Hawkins, ma’am.”

“I understood there would be a nurse traveling with you to take care of the girls’ needs.”

He thought of saying he could handle them, but for the first time he wasn’t sure. Number five had lost her shoe and was starting to cry. The tall one, number one in the line, was glaring at him and the chubby one, number four, was laying her head on one shoulder, then the other, as if trying to see if he might look better from another angle.

“Mr. Hawkins, I’m sure you got the instructions. I assure you I will not be releasing my charges to you until you fulfill your part of the bargain. A woman to tend to their needs is essential.”

He thought of giving up. Letting the oh-so-proper lady take them back. They’d be safer on the boat, if the rumors were true. “If I don’t have a lady with me, you planning to turn around?”

“No. I’m going to file charges on you for breach of contract. Then I’ll notify the girls’ father and wait here until proper escort can be arranged. Colonel Chapman will not be happy if his exact orders are not followed.”

Trapper didn’t even know if there was a crime called breach of contract in Texas. They had too many murders, robbers, and cattle thieves to mess with a breach of anything.

The woman pushed out her chest and made her stand. “If the colonel doesn’t have his daughters home by Christmas, there will be hell to pay.”

Trapper had no idea what she was talking about. He was starting to look forward to the outlaws on the trail.

“I’m loaded and ready, ma’am. I’ll get them to Dallas.”

She opened her mouth to fill him in on all the facts when number five started limp-walking on one shoe and fell over her bag. Her foot went through the handle, so now she limped with one leg and dragged the bag with the other.

He just watched her. This last kid had the coordination of a day-old calf.

To no one’s surprise, the tiny girl started crying.

The chubby one, number four in line, started to help the littlest one up, but the nurse cleared her throat so loudly several people turned in her direction.

Number four looked like she might cry too, but she let go of number five.

The nurse said to him in her lecture voice, “We don’t baby our girls. Not even the littlest one. Understood? These girls are Texas princesses. Born in this wild state. They’ll grow up to be strong women, not crybabies.”

Trapper thought of pushing the nurse off the dock and seeing how strong she was, but he figured she’d file charges for that too.

Before anyone could move, a lady in black knelt down and lifted number five off the dock, freed her foot from the bag, and cradled the crying girl in her arms. “Come sit on the back of the wagon, child, and I’ll put your shoe back on. It’s far too cold a day to go without it.”

The nurse glared at the woman for a moment, then seemed to relax. “I see the traveling companion for the girls has finally arrived. She’ll be too soft on the girls and we’ll have our work cut out for us when they come back to school in February. However, it is good to see you picked a proper lady.”

As the widow tied the little girl’s shoe, the nurse stepped away to direct the luggage to be loaded into the wagon.

Trapper leaned toward the widow. “Lady, if you have the time, would you act like you’re traveling with me? Just till we get out of sight of that woman. I got to get these girls to Dallas and I’m not sure that nurse will let me do my job without a proper lady traveling with us.”

“I was going to Dallas also.” The widow’s voice was low, almost a whisper. “The stage doesn’t seem to be running this week. If you’ll let me ride along with you, I’ll play the part all the way.”

Trapper was shocked. “You would?”

She nodded. “I’d be safer with you and five girls than traveling alone. If you prove to be a not-so-honorable man, I have a weapon and will shoot you.”

He smiled. Her voice had a bit of the South in it and she could shoot. She had to be a born Texan. They understood each other. If he broke his word, she’d shoot him, no breach of contract needed.

“I’m Mrs. Adams.”

Trapper removed his hat. “I’m Trapper Hawkins. You’re doing me a great favor, ma’am.”

The nurse came back as men finished loading the wagon. “I’d like to introduce my little ladies before I leave them with you.”

She started with the oldest. “Catherine Claire, thirteen. Anna Jane, eleven. Elizabeth Rose, ten. Helen Wren five.” The nurse pointed to the smallest, still in the widow’s arms. “Sophia May is four. Colonel Chapman had three wives. All died in childbirth and none gave him a son. Poor man.”

Trapper studied them as the nurse gave instructions to Mrs. Adams and marched back to the boat. The tallest daughter, with her blond hair, would probably be from the first wife. Two and Three from a redheaded wife. And Four and Five from the third wife. He’d guess that wife had brown hair and big brown eyes.

Trapper turned to his charges. “Look, little ladies, I doubt I’ll straighten those names out in three weeks, so how about I call you in order by number?” He pointed to the tall blonde, first in line. “One.” Then the two auburn-haired girls. “Two and Three.” He smiled at the next and couldn’t help but laugh as she giggled, waiting for her number. “Four,” he said, touching her nose. The tiny one waited for her new name. “You’re Five. It’s a game we’ll play.” He glanced at the widow. “A secret game. Like code names.”

When he noticed the widow asked no questions, he added, “Only we have to call her Mrs. Adams. She deserves our respect. She lost her man in the war.”

All the girls nodded except Five. She was spinning around again like an unbalanced top.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Bane’s Choice by Alyssa Day

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!


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Sunday Spotlight: A Cowboy Like You by Donna Grant

Posted November 24, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: A Cowboy Like You by Donna GrantA Cowboy Like You (Heart of Texas #4) by Donna Grant
Series: Heart of Texas #4
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Westerns
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
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In the Heart of Texas, a heartthrob cowboy may get his second chance at love…

Danny Oldman, the handsome Lone Star sheriff, is still single. He tells himself, and anyone who asks, that he is married to his job―and what matters most is keeping the people of his beloved Texas hometown safe. The truth? Danny still hasn’t gotten over his high school crush. She moved away after graduation and took Danny’s heart with her.

Skylar Long never thought she would have to flee Houston and return home―where it all began for her. But that’s what happened after the man of her dreams turned out to be an actual nightmare. Now, Skylar is desperate to escape her obsessive boyfriend. Nothing shocks her more than seeing Danny again and realizing that their long-ago attraction is more powerful than ever. But can she and Danny find a way to fight against Skylar’s wealthy, powerful ex who is dead set on tearing them apart?

New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant adds to her popular Heart of Texas series with A COWBOY LIKE YOU (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; November 26, 2019). In her latest captivating and compelling Western, a heartthrob cowboy who’s been stuck in a rut may get his second chance at a love with a woman he never forgot.

Excerpt

Excerpt from A COWBOY LIKE YOU by Donna Grant

Of all the people Danny had thought he might run into, he’d never in a million years expected to see Skylar Long again. If he believed in destiny, he’d almost accept that his thinking of her earlier had brought her straight to him.

One of the things he remembered about her was how she’d wanted to get out of their town and move to a big city. Her sights had been set on Houston or even Dallas. She had wanted to get lost in all the people.

Many of his classmates had spoken about leaving their little town, but few did. And many who left eventually returned. Not Skylar. She’d gotten out, and he’d figured she would stay gone forever. After all, her parents had moved about ten years ago, which meant there was no reason for her to return.

Yet, here she was. And more stunning than ever.

She had been Danny’s crush from the time they were in grade school. Skylar had always been a free spirit. She had confidence that most girls her age lacked. It wasn’t arrogance, simply a belief in herself that came through in everything she did.

While beautiful, she had been a little reserved. She had run with the popular crowd, but she didn’t wield that social level to degrade anyone or use it to her benefit like others had. She had been kind, and she wore her heart on her sleeve.

He and Skylar had been able to talk about anything. She was always open and engaging, but Danny had never pursued her as his girlfriend. He’d never thought he was good enough for her, not when so many of his other friends had wooed her.

Danny looked at her. The harsh light of the streetlamp above them couldn’t diminish her beauty. Her golden blond hair was pulled up haphazardly with strands falling around her face and neck. But her large, azure eyes still held more shock and fear than he liked.

She was on the petite side with curves in all the right places. Her lips were full, pouty even, and they made his blood heat just looking at them. Her skin had the dewy glow of a healthy lifestyle that made him want to reach out and run the pads of his fingers down her cheek to see if her skin was as velvety as it appeared.

Hearing her story earlier made him want to go find Matt and punch him a few times. Danny had never been so happy to be in the right place at the right time. He gave himself an inward shake to get back to the matter at hand. “And what happened tonight?” Danny asked to get the final piece of the puzzle.

Skylar shrugged. “It was Matt’s night out with friends. I made sure to keep to my same schedule, not doing anything that would alert him that I planned to leave. I waited an hour after he left before I grabbed an overnight bag and threw a few things in. I just wanted to get out. I didn’t care about the rest of my stuff. I figured I could get it back later or replace it.”

“It was a good decision. Things can be replaced. Your life can’t. So, how did he figure out that you left?”

“I honestly don’t know.” Concern clouded her face. “He was gone, I know it. I even drove by the bar to make sure his car was there. Then I headed straight out of town.”

This wasn’t the first time Danny had dealt with a domestic situation like this, but he didn’t like that he knew one of the parties involved. Mainly because he knew the odds of how such circumstances turned out.

Danny ran a hand down his face, his gut churning. “If he was gone from the house and at the bar, then he had to know you left somehow. Are there cameras in the residence?”

Her eyes widened, and her lips parted in shock. “I . . . I don’t know. There could be. It sounds like something he’d do. He was adamant about me moving into his place. It was bigger than mine, even though mine was in a better location, so I agreed.”

“What about tracking your car?”

She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders at the same time. “I wouldn’t put anything past him.”

“Does he always know what’s going on in your life?

People you’ve talked to, places you’ve been?” “Yes.”

“What about phone calls and texts? Does he ask you specifics about them?”

She frowned as she thought about his question. “He used to, but not anymore.”

Danny figured as much.

Skylar’s gaze sharpened on him. “Why? Do you think he installed some kind of spyware on my phone? Oh, God. He installed spyware on my phone.”

“We’ll get you a new one, and I’ll have my guys look over your car to see if there’s any kind of device.”

Her eyes filled with tears that she hastily blinked away. “How did I get into such a situation?”

“It doesn’t matter. What counts is that you’re getting out of it. If that’s what you want.”

Her head bobbed up and down rapidly. “Yes. I knew I was getting away from him tonight, one way or another.”

Danny recalled that she had said she had a handgun in her car. Not that he could blame her for having it, but he was happy she hadn’t had to use it. “I’m glad you pulled in here.”

“I wasn’t going to. As soon as I thought the headlights were from a car like his, I thought it was just my imagination, that I was just scared and seeing things. Then something told me to pull in here and see if the vehicle followed. As soon as it did, I knew it was Matt. Why were you here?”

Danny lifted one shoulder and twisted his lips. “Eating dinner.”

She blinked and looked around. “At a rest stop?” “Yeah. Where were you headed?” he asked to change the subject. He didn’t want to discuss his lack of a life, not when her situation was more important.

Skylar blew out a breath. “I don’t know. I just got on the road and drove. I didn’t even realize I was here until I saw the county sign five miles back.”

“Is there anyone in town you can stay with?”

Her gaze dropped to the ground. “I didn’t keep up with anyone here. I can stay at a hotel.”

“That’s the first place Matt will look for you when he gets out of jail. I could post a deputy to keep watch, but that’s a temporary fix.”

“I understand.” Her gaze lifted to his, and she forced a smile that didn’t reach her blue eyes. “You’ve been a great help tonight, but you’ve done enough. I’ll figure something out.”

Danny took a step toward her. “If you think I’m going to walk away, then you don’t remember me at all.”

“Oh, I remember you,” she said. This time, the smile was the one he remembered from years earlier.

“Then let me help.”

Worry crossed her face once more. “Matt is the kind that won’t give up, isn’t he?”

“Let’s just say that I don’t want to take any chances with him. I know the perfect place you can stay. It’s a fortress unto itself. There’s no way Matt can get anywhere near you there.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Her relief was so great that her shoulders drooped with it. “I can follow you there.”

“Your car is staying here. I’ll have it towed to the station to be looked over. Get whatever you need. I’ll drive you.”

Hearts of Texas

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: November 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Donna Grant

Donna Grant Author Photo

Donna is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels. Her most popular series is the breathtaking Dark King (aka Dragon King) series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.

In addition to her novels, Donna has written over forty short stories, novellas, and novelettes for digital-first and print release. She has been dubbed as giving the “paranormal genre a burst of fresh air” by the San Francisco Book Review. Her work has been hailed as having “deft plotting and expert characterization” by Publisher’s Weekly and “sizzling” by RT Book Reviews.

She has been recognized with awards from both bookseller and reader contests including the National Reader’s Choice Award, Booksellers Best Award, as well as the coveted K.I.S.S. Award from RT Book Reviews.

Donna travels often for various speaking engagements, conferences, and book signings. She is also a frequent workshop presenter at national conferences such as RT Book Lovers Convention and Thrillerfest, as well as local chapters.

Born and raised in Texas, she also has ties across the border in Louisiana. Growing up with two such vibrant cultures, her Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding. She is never far from her faithful 80 pound dog, Sisko, or her three cats. She can often be found at the movies or bookstore with her children. Or buying makeup. And shoes.


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Summer Reading Challenge Review: Marry Me by Jo Goodman

Posted October 14, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Marry Me by Jo GoodmanReviewer: Holly
Marry Me by Jo Goodman
Series: Reidsville #2
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: December 1, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Westerns
Pages: 447
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge, Holly's Summer Reading Challenge, Summer Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Her Heart Was Locked Away

Rhyne Abbot is fierce, brave, and used to a life of isolation on her father's spread on the outskirts of Reidsville, Colorado. But when, overcome with sickness, she collapses, she knows she must return to town if she is to have any hope of recovery. Only there is no place for her but the new doctor's home, and he wants more than just to heal Rhyne. He wants her hand in marriage.

Until One Man Found The Key

Doctor Cole Monroe's hands are already more than full with his orphaned little sister to look after, and yet somehow he can't resist the magnetic pull of Rhyne's bewitching eyes--or her tempting kiss. But convincing her to trust him won't be easy. For Rhyne's heart needs as much tender care as her ailing body. And the only cure is the thing she most fears: to let herself fall in love...

Mary Me by Jo Goodman is the second book in the Reidsville series. Casee chose this for our Summer Reading Challenge, but I forgot to review it in August. It’s been ages since I read a Jo Goodman. This was vaguely familiar, so it’s possible I’ve read it before. I can’t remember for sure, though, so I’m calling this a new read. I had a hard time getting into it at first, but it picked up by the 3rd chapter.

When Cole Monroe’s younger sister talks him into moving to Reidsville, CO to become their new town doctor, he isn’t sure what to expect. The colorful residents are interesting, and he’s enjoying himself as the only doctor to service a large area. When he meets Rhyne Abbot, he knows he has to help her.The only way to do that is to have her move in with him. Not an ideal situation, but one they make work. Only, he never expected to come to have such strong feelings for her. Her fierce independence and indomitable spirit really call to him.

Rhyne was raised as a boy, until her father could no longer ignore the fact she was a girl. Even then, she kept up the pretense with the town’s inhabitants. Now that she’s been outed as a woman and forced to move in with the new doctor, things sure are different for her. Finding her footing in this new world is difficult, but she’s managing. If only she could get rid of this pesky attraction she has for the doctor…

I really thought the romance was super sweet. I liked both Cole and Rhyne. I liked how patient he was with Rhyne and how she slowly came to trust him. Some of the medical stuff was on the boring side, but I was able to move past that. I struggled more with how quickly Rhyne seemed to overcome her trauma, but I do think it was rather in keeping with the times. Rhyne didn’t have time to become hysterical, so she didn’t.

While this isn’t my favorite book by Goodman, it was enjoyable and I’ll probably read it again in the future.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Reidsville

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas

Posted September 24, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi ThomasReviewer: Tracy
Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas
Series: Ransom Canyon #8
Also in this series: Sunrise Crossing, A Christmas Affair (Ransom Canyon #6.5), Mistletoe Miracles (Ransom Canyon #7)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Westerns
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Ransom Canyon welcomes you back for a Christmas that has everything you’re looking for: romance, family and a whole lot of Texas.

Cooper Holloway would take nature over people any day—especially visiting relatives. That’s why he’s headed for a rustic cabin in remote Winter Valley, where he’ll care for a herd of wild mustangs. But Cooper’s plans are quickly thwarted by the arrival of two unexpected guests: one, a stranger in desperate need of his help, and the other, a very attractive young veterinarian.

Elliott is busy trying to keep Maverick Ranch running smoothly with Cooper gone, which is no easy task with family visiting. And when a long-lost love suddenly reappears in his life, Elliott knows he’ll have more than just books to balance this season.

With a big, chaotic family Christmas around the corner and love blooming in surprising ways, the Holloway men will have to make big choices about the future—just in time for the holidays.

Christmas in Winter Valley is a group of smaller romances all set in one book/story based around the Griffin family and their place, Maverick Ranch.

First there’s the story of Cooper Griffin and Hayley.  Cooper is hurt while out checking on wild mustangs but Hayley, the vet that was out there to help him, saves his life.

Then there’s Tye and Dani who can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.  Tye is an ex-rodeo star and is now a ranch hand at MV (Maverick Ranch). He falls fast and hard for the Griffin family cook, Dani, but here grown sons don’t like that too much.

Elliot Griffin was hurt 10 years ago by Jessica who he was engaged to.  He had to leave school when his dad died and each of them think it’s the other’s fault that they didn’t stay together after that.  Jessica shows up at MV to do the taxes and sparks fly between the two.

Creed (a ranch hand) and Dallas (cousin-in-law to the Griffins), end up as a couple, I think, but it’s hard to say as not much, if any, time was spent on their relationship.  Could be they just ended up FB’s. lol

While all of these people are falling in love with each other, all between December 10th and December 24th (yes, very fast), there are friendships growing and intertwining all of these characters.  Men and women alike are finding out who they truly are and how they see life and love.  It was well done, but I never felt that I was too invested in any of the relationships.  I’m not sure if that was because there was so much going on, or what.  Despite that I liked the book overall.

That said, I have to say that my favorite part of the book was a 9-year-old boy named Tatum.  Tatum was shipped off to his grandma’s house when his dad and then his mom died.  When his grandma died the evil neighbor lady told the sheriff that this small boy carried death wherever he went, was half-wild and they should take him to the pound.  WTAF? I wanted to crawl through the book and thrash that woman!  Tatum ended up running away before social services could get him and was found by Cooper Griffin right before the boy would have frozen to death.  I won’t tell you the amazing cuteness that comes out of Tatum’s mouth on the regular, but let me just say that he’s the sweetest thing in the world!  The relationship between Cooper and Tatum is heart-warming and I loved it. Jodi Thomas wrote his character wonderfully well and I actually found myself wishing he was more on-page than he was.  Yes, it’s a romance novel, but Tatum made the book for me!

Overall a nice Christmas story about love and family.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Ransom Canyon

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson

Posted October 18, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Summer Breeze by Catherine AndersonReviewer: Holly
Summer Breeze (Keegan-Paxton #3) by Catherine Anderson
Series: Keegan-Paxton #3
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: January 3, 2006
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance, Westerns
Pages: 421
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

The year is 1889, and Rachel Hollister hasn't set foot outside her house in five years. Ever since a savage attack left her family dead, she's cordoned herself off from the outside world, afraid to let anyone into her home—or into her heart. But now trouble has appeared on her doorstep—and suddenly she has no choice but to let a handsome rancher invade her well-guarded existence ...

Confirmed bachelor Joseph Paxton grudgingly offers to take up temporary residence at the Hollister ranch—even though it's obvious Rachel doesn't want his protection. But once he catches a glimpse of his beautiful young ward and her remarkable spirit, he'll do anything to break through the dark spell that's walled off her heart. It may take a miracle, but he's determined to make her see the refuge he's offering in his embrace—and the splendor that exists beyond her front door. Otherwise he'll just have to build a safe haven big enough for the both of them ...

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

While looking through old posts I came across this one for Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson. I remember the warm, sweet feeling I was left with after I finished this book. I’m not sure it would work as well for me if I read it now, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.

This review was originally published August 7, 2006

What an amazing love story.

We all fear something. Whether we have a true phobia – such as my fear of ‘S’ words (don’t ask) – or just something that makes us break out in goosebumps, we all know what it’s like to be afraid of something.

Rachel Hollister’s fear is that of being in an open space. Her family was brutally murdered right in front of her while they were out for a picnic. As a result, she hasn’t stepped outside her home in five years.

Her faithful friend, the elderly Darby, has done everything in his power to make her a sanctuary inside her home. He barricaded all the windows and doors and converted her kitchen into as comfortable a place as possible for her.

Though Rachel knows her fears are irrational, they’re there all the same, and she can’t overcome them. She refuses to leave her small kitchen for any reason, and can’t even open a door or window to allow sunlight in. For five long years she lived in absolute silence, with no natural light.

To keep herself occupied, she read books and crocheted. She spoke with Darby through the door of her home and that was the only company she had.

Until Darby is shot in the back and manages to ride to the neighboring Paxton ranch in search of help. Joseph Paxton finds him and promises to look after Rachel. Darby is convinced his being shot has something to do with the murder of Rachel’s family and fears for her safety.

As Joseph breaks into Rachel’s home, he expects to find a crazy young woman, and instead encounters a lovely creature he’s immediately taken with. He comes to realize that Rachel isn’t crazy at all, only frightened.

Watching this story unfold has been a wonderful experience for me. Seeing Joseph do everything in his power to make Rachel’s world one filled with sunlight and birdsong really touched me.

Since Rachel’s fear is based on open spaces, Joseph hits upon the idea of installing metal doors with bars on them so she can enjoy the sunlight and still feel enclosed. Then one of the town’s populace hits upon the idea of building her a stone-walled courtyard with an iron-work ceiling so it’s completely enclosed, therefore allowing Rachel to be outside. They called it:

“Sunshine for Rachel.”

Watching Rachel emerge from her self-imposed prison and into the sunshine for the first time in five years made my heart swell and my eyes sting with tears. Joseph’s reaction to Rachel in the sunshine touched me more deeply than any other tender moment in a romance novel. I could feel their emotions as she turned her face to the sun for the first time in so many years.

She was halfway across the courtyard before it struck her that she was outside. Oh, God, outside. She staggered to a stop, frozen in her tracks. Her heart pounded violently. But nothing else happened. She could still breathe. She just felt a little dizzy and disoriented. “Joseph?”
“You’re fine, sweetheart. You’ve got walls all around you. Look at them. Name me anything that can go through that rock.”
She let her head fall back to put her face up to the sun. The gentle warmth on her skin was beyond wonderful. She held her arms wide and turned again, filling her lungs with fresh, cool morning air.

Joseph asks Rachel to marry him and the following scene is so touching. Rachel refuses him, saying she can’t have a family living the way she does.

“What would I do? Push them out the wood safe to see them off to school?” She gestured with her free hand the encompass the kitchen. “A family can’t live in one room.”
“I’ll make it work,” he whispered. “I swear to you, darlin’. I can make it work. No hallways to frighten you, just a big room like this with water closets all around, only they’ll be bedrooms, with you in the big room, living as you do now, never needing to go outside unless it’s to sit in your courtyard or work in your flower beds.”

The murder of her family was left unsolved all those years ago, and Joseph and his lawman brother David set out to find the missing pieces of the puzzle, hoping to keep Rachel safe and finally give her closure.

The story was sweet and amazing and one of the most touching I’ve read in a long time. It’s not very often that you read a murder-mystery that’s sweet and compelling as well.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the book. Something Joseph said to Rachel that touched my heart.

When I first met you, I thought I was opening up the world for you, but I was so wrong. You were the one who opened up all of my windows so I could see the beauty beyond the glass.

5 out of 5

Keegan-Paxton

five-stars


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