A True Cowboy Christmas by Caitlin Crews Release Date: October 30, 2018 Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks Number of Pages: 320 Kindle Edition Source: ARC from Net Galley Contemporary Romance/Western/Holidays M/F Rating: NC-17 Read 10/16/18 to 10/17/18
Gray Everett has a heart of gold but that doesn’t mean he believes in the magic of Christmas. He’s got plenty else to worry about this holiday season, what with keeping his cattle ranch in the family and out of the hands of hungry real-estate investors looking to make a down-and-dirty deal. That, plus being a parent to his young and motherless daughter, equals a man who will not rest until he achieves his mission. Now, all Gray needs is the help of his lifelong neighbor. . .who happens to have grown into a lovely, spirited woman.
For Abby Douglas, the chance to join forces with Gray is nothing less than a Christmas miracle. Much as the down-to-earth farmer’s daughter has tried to deny it, Abby’s been in love with stern, smoking-hot Gray her whole life. So when Gray proposes a marriage of convenience as a way to combine land–and work together toward a common cause—Abby can’t refuse. But how can she convince Gray that sometimes life offers a man a second chance for a reason. . .and that their growing trust and mutual passion may be leading to true and lasting love?
Wow. Just wow. This book gutted me. Especially Abby, but Gray and his daughter Becca contributed to the gutting also. I don’t think there are 3 people who need a hug more than these three.
Abby is quite a few years younger than Gray, so when she first got hearts in her eyes over him she was a 5-year-old, and this 13-year-old young man who helped her seemed a super hero…and out of reach. Gray always seemed out of reach, but that didn’t stop Abby from pining over him. Not in an obvious way. Those closest to her knew her feelings, but it wasn’t common knowledge to the rest of the town. The fact that Abby has a terrible mother who did nothing but squash young Abby’s confidence all through her life, it was no wonder she kept her feeling to herself and never took a chance on getting Gray to notice her.
Turns out, Abby didn’t have to do anything to earn Gray’s notice. It may have taken many years of being casual acquaintances, but once Gray became aware of her that awareness just grew and grew. I can’t blame the guy for taking so long. Abby was still young when Gray entered into his first marriage and had Becca. Unfortunately for them all, that was a terrible marriage and his wife was not a good person. Add to that growing up in the house of an alcoholic jerk and being threatened and belittled his whole life, and it’s no wonder Gray kept to himself and wasn’t too attentive to anything going on outside his ranch and family. He may have been oblivious to Abby, but he was really oblivious to everyone but his daughter and his land.
The way Gray approaches a relationship with Abby is unconventional, to say the least. The man really has no game. He’s blunt and to the point on what he wants and needs, not realizing that you can catch more bees with honey. But, since he does happen to be Abby’s unrequited love, it eventually works. And once the two of them give into what they have decided will be their lives, sparks fly.
I really didn’t expect this story to be so emotional from the description. I thought it would be a fun fake-marriage romp. Boy, was I wrong. There is so much going on in this book, on so many different levels. I can only assume there will be more stories and we’ll learn more about Gray’s brothers because those men ALL have issues. Not to mention that I’d really like to see Abby’s BFFs get their HEAs.
I cannot recommend this story enough. It wasn’t all serious. It had pain and heartache, yes. But it also had joy and chemistry and enlightenment.
I have to mention that I have noticed that a lot of my very favorite authors follow and retweet and comment on tweets from an M Crane/C Crews aka @megancrane a lot. Turns out, she’s Caitlin Crews. So while I was always thinking I had to check out her library some day since I trust the taste of these authors, I read one of her stories without even realizing it at first. Which also means there is a lot out there by this amazing writer that I haven’t read yet. I can’t wait!
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**