Sunday, October 7, 2018

Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas by @KatieRuggle - New Release and Giveaway @SourcebooksCasa

Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas
by Katie Ruggle
Series: Rocky Mountain Cowboys, #1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: September 25, 2018

In the heart of the Rockies
One white Christmas can change everything.

When firefighter and single dad Steve Springfield moved his four kids to a Colorado Christmas tree ranch, he intended for it to be a safe haven. But he never expected danger to follow them to his childhood home…

Or that he would come face-to-face with the one girl he could never forget.

Folk artist Camille Brandt lives a quiet life. As the town’s resident eccentric, she’s used to being lonely—until Steve freaking Springfield changes everything. Brave and kind, he’s always had a piece of her heart, and it doesn’t take long before she’s in danger of falling for him again. But as mysterious fires break out across the sleepy Colorado town, Steve and Camille will have to fight if they want their happy family to survive until Christmas...

Stuffing her new stocking hat and mittens into one of the coat pockets, she tried to smooth her hair, but she knew it was hopeless. Glancing at Will, she saw he was smirking as he pulled on his coat.

“I know.” She flattened her hands on either side of her head, trying to hide as much of her hair as possible. “I broke the cardinal rule: once the hat goes on, it has to stay on for the rest of the day.”

“Nah, it’s fine. Take out your ponytail.” A little warily, she tugged off the hair band, not sure where he was going with this. “Bend over so your head’s upside down, and shake it out.”

Now she really thought he had to be messing with her.

“Hurry up,” he urged. “Dad’s having to ring things up and wrap, and he’s horrible at wrapping. If he had his way, he’d roll everything up in newspaper, slap some duct tape on it, and throw it into a plastic garbage bag.”

She did what Will said, amused despite herself by the silliness of it all.

“Okay, stand up and flip your hair back.”

Her hair flip was only semisuccessful, so curly strands hung in her face. She shoved them out of her eyes and looked at Will expectantly.

“Nice, just…” He reached toward her head and then paused. “If it’s okay?”

“Go ahead.”

After he quickly adjusted a few strands, he stepped back and eyed the end result before giving a satisfied nod. “Check it out.”

Glancing at her reflection in the small window, she frowned. It was hard to see much, since the sun was shining outside, but from what she could tell, it looked a little…wild. “It’s not too…” She blew out her cheeks and flicked her fingers in an explosive gesture.

“Nope.” He grinned at her before dashing out of the office. “It’s perfect.”

She hesitated for a few seconds before deciding to trust Will. Leaving the office, she slipped behind the counter, taking the spot next to Steve, who was in the middle of wrapping a fat candle, his face screwed up in a mixture of frustration, concentration, and panic.

A laugh bubbled out of her. “Will wasn’t kidding,” she said, taking the candle and fifty sheets of tissue paper he seemed to think he needed to wrap it in. “You’re really bad at this.”

“I am,” Steve readily agreed. With his attention no longer fixed on the candle, he looked at her, smiling. His expression froze, his eyes widening.

“What?” she whispered. Now she was the panicked one. With her hands busy wrapping up the candle, she couldn’t even pat her hair to see what was wrong. Had Will been messing with her after all?

“Oh. Uh…nothing. Just your hair. It…uh, looks nice.” He finally yanked his attention off her and turned back to the register, but Camille was not convinced, especially since his face was brick red, and he seemed to be having issues hitting the right button on the register screen.

“It’s horrible, isn’t it?” She tucked the candle into the gift bag, forcing a smile for the woman who’d just purchased it. She, at least, didn’t seem horrified by the mess on Camille’s head. “Will talked me into it, and the window in the office is a terrible mirror. You’re going to have to help me think of a good way to get him back. No! I’ll ask Maya and Zoe. They’ll know what to do, and they’ll help me pull it off. They’re awesome like that. Where’d Maya go?” She spotted the girl on the other side of the store, helping a mom with young children pick out a tree stand. “As soon as she makes her way back over here, I’m going to ask her to brainstorm revenge strategies.”

By the time she finished rambling, Steve’s face had almost returned to its normal color, and he looked like he was holding back a laugh. “First of all, please don’t ask Maya or Zoe to help plan your revenge, since they’ll come up with something much more creative and excessive than necessary, like an ejector seat in his new car or a trapdoor in front of the toilet or something that explodes.”

Camille thought that two out of three of those ideas sounded genius, but she stayed silent as Steve handed her a small wreath to bag.

“That’ll be thirty-one forty-four. Thank you. Second, Will didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve just, uh, never seen your hair down before.” He was flushing again, ears going red at the tips. “I like it.”

“Thanks. I… Thanks.” She flushed too, keeping her head down so he wouldn’t see how red her own cheeks had gotten. Emotions churned in her chest—excitement and gratitude and nervousness, the usual combination she felt when she was around Steve. Her thanks seemed to hang in the air, feeling incomplete, so she blurted out, “I like yours, too.” When he gave her a sideways look and offered a dry thanks, she became even more flustered. “Your face, too. It’s nice.” She waved a hand, indicating his whole form. “There aren’t any not-nice parts of you, in fact. You’re pretty much nice all over.” She had to stop saying nice. In fact, she had to stop talking, period, but there seemed to be a delay between her thoughts and her mouth, because words were still pouring out of her. “So, basically, I like all of you. A lot. A whole lot. A whole, whole—”

Stop. Talking. Now.

She closed her mouth and pressed her lips together.

He cleared his throat. “Thank you?”

Camille instinctively opened her mouth to say “You’re welcome,” then decided not to risk speaking again, just in case. Instead, she gave a wordless grunt and focused on wrapping.

Another great read from Katie Ruggle that had a wonderful romance wrapped in a great mystery/suspense.

I just loved Camille. She was definitely not your typical heroine - she’s quirky, very shy, and tends to be a bit socially awkward. She’s not had an easy time of things growing up and has always found solace in her art. It was fun to see her lose her cool when she runs into “Steve freaking Springfield” as an adult – she had a big crush on him in high school and she’s not quite sure what to do with that awareness now that he’s back in town, and she really finds herself quite a bit out of her comfort zone every time she’s around him. But boy did I love seeing her find her way as their friendship begins and then blossoms into a romance, all while she has a chance to get to know his kids and build relationships with them as well.
Except for when she was in her workshop, everything else in life seemed so hard and uncomfortable, like a pair of shoes that didn’t really fit. With Steve and his kids, though, she felt as if she clicked effortlessly into place, as if they’d made a spot in their family just for her.
Steve “freaking” Springfield was just such a wonderful hero. I loved the bit parts that he played in the authors “Rocky Mountain K9 Unit” and was so happy he was going to get a chance to find his own HEA – even if that meant returning home to give his family the safety and security they needed to thrive. He was so great with his kids – being a single dad he didn’t always have it easy when dealing with his kids, but he always seemed to find a way to give all his kids just what they needed.

I really enjoyed the family aspect of the book and loved having Christmas woven into the story line. From getting to see the family’s Christmas tree ranch in action to Camille’s featuring her work in the gift shop, there was such a cozy holiday theme throughout the book. The Springfield family is close and I really just loved all of Steve’s kids.

Although I loved how the danger and mystery in the book brought Camille and Steve together, and there was definitely the level of action and suspense I expect from a Katie Ruggle book, my only complaint would be was that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the ending. I think things tied up a bit too quickly and without enough detail, but I’m hoping that the rest of the series will help fill in some of the blanks for me.

Katie Ruggle has quickly become one of my go-to authors when I need an action packed romantic suspense read and I really love the start to this new series. I’d definitely recommend this book to any romance or mystery reader.

I received an advance reader copy from the publisher via NetGalley which I voluntarily reviewed.

When she’s not writing, KATIE RUGGLE rides horses, shoots guns, and travels to warm places where she can SCUBA dive. Graduating from the Police Academy, Katie received her ice-rescue certification and can attest that the reservoirs in the Colorado Mountains really are that cold. While she still misses her off-the-grid, solar- and wind-powered house in the Rocky Mountains, she now lives in Rochester, Minnesota near her family.

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