Heart of Texas #1
by Donna Grant
Published on October 31, 2017 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romance
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’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?
Well I do believe I have developed a taste for cowboy romances. Oh my, oh my, oh my. . .
To be fair, this isn’t the first book I’ve read by Donna Grant. In fact, I’m quite a fan of her paranormal series, the Dark Kings. But I also wasn’t a huge fan of her Sons of Texas books so there’s that too. So I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d feel about The Christmas Cowboy Hero. Turns out, I liked it quite a bit.
What worked for me in this one was the story beyond the romance. I liked that there was something going on. It did feel overshadowed at times by all the lusting between resident cowboy Clayton and the resilient Abby but it pulled through in the end. I actually liked that storyline better than the actual romance.
But this is a romance so it’s okay for it to take over at times. I could’ve done without the opening scenes where the two protagonist oogle each other in what’s really a serious situation. Abby’s brother is in jail and Clayton could press charges against him. And they’re just staring each other down? Hmm. . .
There were other moments like that too where I felt like Grant wanted us to feel the heat between these two SO MUCH that it came off as forced instead. Clayton and Abby had chemistry. A slow burn would’ve done just fine here. Because when they did get together things got hot.
The Christmas Cowboy Hero might just have you wishing for your own sexy cowboy beneath the tree.
As for the characters, both had such a level of vulnerability to them that it caught me off guard. I haven’t seen that in a romance, at least not that I can remember. Abby is trying to be the best mother figure to her brothers while dealing with one obstacle after another in her life. Clayton has demons from his past that still haunt him but he’s being forced to move forward for his family. There’s a lot of emotion and themes of family and love that went beyond the on-the-page story and it worked.
Now, that’s all after I thought about the book for a bit but when I first finished it, I loved all but the ending and only because it felt really rushed. A time jump might have helped alleviate that. Otherwise, I devoured this book. I swear Grant’s books are (mostly) magical, y’all. I have every intention of picking up the next book in this series as well as Grant’s future books!