We are now getting to the last romance novel from this blog tour, except for the collection of short stories that is Christmas in Kilts which I will review later. So, The Christmas Cowboy Hero came out last week. It is actually the first book in a new series by Donna Grant, called Heart of Texas that plays out in and around Texas. Cowboys galore! As with the other books in this blog tour (which you can read about here, here, here, here and here), I was given an advance copy by the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thanks for that!
Clayton has left the SEALs and has decided to return home for the holidays. When the prodigal son returns home, he finds out his father’s been sick and the family ranch is in trouble. Their accountant ran off with their money and they are now in trouble. So Clayton needs to take over and help restore the ranch to its former glory and figure out what went wrong. But in his first days home, things get even worse as he catches a gang of cattle thieves. They only manage to catch one though; a young man who refuses to give up the people behind the theft.
This boy just happens to be Abby Harper’s younger brother. Even from before their mother left them, Abby had been raising her younger brothers alone. She’s working in an accounting firm, studying to get her college degree, taking care of the house and trying to keep her brothers in line. But apparently, she hasn’t been doing a good enough job, since her brother gets involved with the wrong crowd and ends up in handcuffs. Luckily, Clayton is willing to give her brother a second chance and they decide to let her brother work off his debt at the ranch. Clayton hopes to gain the boy’s trust and find out who stole from him to recover the cattle, while Abby hopes her brother will learn discipline, find a goal in life and no longer get in trouble.
Of course, when you put an accountant-in-training with a man trying to find the accountant that stole from him, figure out what’s been going on and recover the money together, they are bound to get involved. Add to this that Abby feels grateful for Clayton helping out her brother, and she would do almost anything to help out. Even more so when she realises the accounting firm she works for might know more about what’s been going on. So Abby dives into Clayton’s family’s accounts and figures out how their accountant had been stealing and she also gives them tips that eventually lead to the accountant’s capture. Then she overhears her boss talking to someone she thinks might just be responsible for the cattle theft and she informs Clayton. He uses his military training to sneak up on the thieves and finds a rather big organisation. Together, they manage to resolve the entire thing and get out on the other side with only minor scrapes and bruises.
And of course, in the process, they have fallen in love. Abby is learning to let her brothers be and focus on herself a little more. She realises she needs to take care of herself too and, more importantly, she needs to get over her abandonment issues and learn to trust that people won’t always leave. Clayton, for his part, needs to adjust to being home again around people he knows and loves and vice verso. He needs to stop being a loner, put his bad experiences behind him and deal with his brother’s death from years before that he never really got over. They slowly develop their feelings for each other, denying them at first but eventually giving in to them. On top of that, there’s the great family dynamics. On the one hand, there’s Abby and her brothers. Their little family of three is all either of them have in the world and they are fiercely loyal and protective of one another. Abby sacrifices everything for her brothers and they, in turn, love her to bits. When they arrive at the ranch, they are immediately embraced by Clayton’s family. His family is more traditional, a close-knit group that suffered the loss of one of the children and has learned to slowly move on. And bonus: Abby’s brothers really flourish thanks to the good role models that are Clayton and his father.
There’s some drama, a bit of danger and tension, bunches of laughter and excitement and a whole lot of love.Adding the holiday season to all of it makes this a perfect read for cold December evenings. What more can you ask for?