’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 wit’s 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?
Review: Oddly enough, I read this story right on the heels of another book that was eerily similar. I mean, they were two books where there was a “wounded” cowboy recently returned to the home ranch. There there was the heroine who is taking care of her younger brother (as in legal guardian). And said cowboy steps in as a role model to the troubled young man. OK.. that’s where the similarities end. But I have to admit that I kept comparing the two books as I read. In the end, The Christmas Cowboy Hero did come out the “winner” as it was a more well-rounded story with a little suspense and it tugged at my heartstrings.
Clayton is a recently retired Navy SEAL who was avoiding home due to a childhood tragedy. But his parents need him on the ranch and so he returns home to help out. He never really dealt with the tragedy and now he has some PTSD issues from his time with the military. To top it off, he’s home dealing with financial troubles and cattle rustling.
And then there’s Abby. She’s been taking care of her younger brothers since their mother abandoned the family when Abby was 18. They’re barely making ends meet. Throw in the fact that Abby’s younger brother gets arrested for being part of the cattle rustling at Clayton’s family ranch. And this is how these two are brought together.
There were two plot lines in this story. First was the romance between Abby and Clayton. The second had to do with the trouble plaguing the ranch. Obviously the two are intertwined. Both were developed well enough that I kept turning the pages… in fact reading the book in one sitting. I could have used a little more discord or perhaps some external force that threatened the romance. It just seemed… too easy. The ranch plot line wasn’t terribly complicated, but this book isn’t marketed as romantic suspense, so it didn’t need to be. It was at the right level of suspense and action to keep it interesting. It might have been a little too easy of a solve and there was no way the reader could solve the mystery… but again, it wasn’t meant to be.
Really, this book was all about relationships. Whether it was Clayton and Abby or Clayton and his parents. Or Abby and her brothers or even the boys and Clayton… These strangers became a family. I laughed and I even shed a couple tears as these people found each other and surrendered to the magic of Christmas.
This is the first of Ms Grant’s books that I’ve read outside of her Druid Glen series, which were written about 10 years ago. I’m glad that I found this author again and I am interested to see where this series is going to go.