New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant returns to Texas, where a small-town legend just might find the greatest gift of all in The Christmas Cowboy Hero…
’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays—even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.
Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wits’ end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances, and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby—and the inescapable longing in his heart—off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?
So when I started prepping my review of this latest release from Donna Grant, I kept thinking it was a novella. Then I looked and realized this book is over 300 pages in length. So one of the big things I can say about this story is that it moves quickly and it’s definitely a story that sucks the reader in. When I started it, I felt like I was halfway through in no time at all. For me, I love stories that flow this well.
Our story starts out with Clayton East avoiding calls from his mother, back in Texas. Clayton is an ex-Navy SEAL and is working in South Africa, protecting animals from poachers. (Yeah, I was swooning in the first chapter). Then he finally takes the call from his mother, where he learns the East Ranch is in major trouble.
We then meet Abby Harper, where she’s running to the police station because her brother, Brice, has been arrested. The crime? Stealing cattle from the East Ranch. Abby is devastated since she’s been raising her brothers since she was 18. With a mother who ran out on them, Abby and her brothers only have each other. Clayton and Abby immediately have an attraction to each other. Clayton decides to extend a second-chance to Brice, by allowing him to work off his major debt to the ranch, instead of pressing charges against him.
While this is happening, Clayton and his family are also dealing with the realization that their CPA embezzled a significant amount of money from them. Abby works for a different CPA in town as an assistant and starts helping Clayton look through the financial records for the ranch.
“No, Abby Harper, I’m going to pay you what you should’ve been earning all this time. You’re worth it.”
This quote really stuck with me while reading. Several times in the story, Clayton lets Abby know that she’s worth it, and someone else’s loss is his gain. Abby’s brothers realize the sacrifices she’s made for them, even though Abby never mentions it, never complains. So to see Clayton see these things in her, and make her feel valued and appreciated, it was like Abby was able to blossom when she was around the East family. This was especially heartwarming to see because as the reader goes along, you realize how much Abby really has done for her family.
This story might be one of my favorite Christmas stories. You get all of the Christmas activity, but then we see forgiveness, fresh starts, love, and even suspense. This is a Christmas novel that any reader could enjoy because there is a little bit of something for everyone.