The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

A Christmas Cowboy Hero (1)

The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

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.

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Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

XMasAtTwoLoveLane

Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

The best gift of all is the one you share with someone else. . .

From the moment he strode through the iron gate and into the offices of Two Love Lane on a crisp December day, it was obvious that Deacon Banks was something different. He wasn’t a Charleston native, not with that adorable Yankee accent. And unlike the usual client at the elegant matchmaking agency, he had no interest in finding a woman to marry—just a few no-strings dates while he was in town.

Macy Frost takes her professional services very seriously—how could she not, when she’s rumored to be a direct descendant of Cupid? Tech entrepreneur Deacon says he’s just trying to make his social-climbing aunt happy by being seen out and about with a few prominent beauties, but Macy insists she can make her client fall in love…for real. And Deacon can’t help but think she might be right. As charming as the palmetto trees and magnificent harbor may be, it’s the beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air Macy who’s become Deacon’s favorite part of the scenery. But can the hopelessly romantic Southern belle stop trying to fix him up and just let Cupid do his work on her own heart?

Macy Frost might be a descendant of Cupid. But even if she’s not, she’s one heck of a matchmaker. And that skill is about to come in handy with Deacon, a newcomer who shows up unexpectedly.

The biggest component of this book that I found myself loving was how the story came to life. The descriptions were so vivid and I could easily see Macy and her cat, Oscar, walking to work. I could see her office, her home and it’s piazza. I could see Fran, Deacon, George, etc. This author does a wonderful job with the imagery. I would read this author again for that piece alone.

In complete fairness, Macy was a little hard for me to like. She sort of rode the line between society girl and a little slice of wild child, and because of this, some of her sweetness came off a little too proper to me. One scene that comes to my mind is that she has only known Deacon a day or two and she’s fantasizing about him making love to her. I was fine with that scene, but Macy isn’t that old, and the wording just felt a little awkward. With that said, I felt like a lot of her actions and words did make sense for her character. It just wasn’t a personal favorite of mine.

This story is told in two viewpoints, alternating between Macy and Deacon. I enjoyed Deacon’s chapters a lot more. I think he was a bit more honest, his tone seemed more realistic to me. Deacon isn’t interested in finding a soulmate. He needs Macy’s help to find a few dates to appease the aunt who cared for him growing up. Nothing more. But Macy is convinced that she can find the person he’s meant to be with. But what if that person is Macy?

The other nice aspect of this story is that you get a full-length book. Amazon has this listed as 346 pages, which is significantly longer than other holiday books I’ve come across. So I appreciated that the story wasn’t rushed and I got to really savor the story.

I think this book is perfect for anyone who loves holiday romance but also for someone looking for a lighter, cheerful read. The story comes to life and you feel like you’re in Charleston as you read along.