Monday, November 5, 2018

A True Cowboy Christmas by Caitlin Crews - Blog Tour and Review @SMPRomance @MeganCrane

A True Cowboy Christmas
by Caitlin Crews
Series: Cold River Ranch, #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 30, 2018

From USA Today bestselling author Caitlin Crews comes A True Cowboy Christmas, the first in a sensational series debut about a cowboy, a farm girl, and the greatest gift of all. . .

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?

“Why would you try to tell me that chemistry doesn’t matter? Of course it does.”

“I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. But sheer stubbornness matters more.” He heard the intensity in his voice, but did nothing to temper it. “If people want to stay married, they do. If they want that marriage to be a good one, they work on it and make it that way. It’s not rocket science. It doesn’t require your online profiles. You don’t need to get matched on your smart phone. You make a commitment to someone, then you keep it. It’s as simple and as hard as that.”

He watched in fascination as her hands curled into fists at her sides.

“I appreciate that you have experience being married, and that gives you a platform to make sweeping statements,” she said, her voice low, as if she was fighting back her own intensity. “That’s great. But you’re missing that I’m not interested in the state of marriage in a general sense. I’m telling you I am not going to marry someone I have no chemistry with. That has nothing to do with me being stubborn, not stubborn, or insufficiently committed. It’s actually all about the fact that I’m not staggering around in a grief-induced daze, proposing marriage to people I’ve never looked at twice before in my whole life.”

That should have annoyed him, because he wasn’t dazed. Amos had been a mean, unhealthy old man. His death hadn’t been a real surprise. Gray wasn’t sure he was grieving him so much as the father Amos had never been, and he knew he wasn’t crazy with it. But he couldn’t seem to lose his grin, especially when he moved closer to her.

Because when he did, she lost that scowl. Her eyes went wide, that cute flush brightened up her face again, and she had to tip her head back to look at him. Not as much as some of the other girls he’d dated had, as she’d pointed out. Gray liked that too. He didn’t have to hunker over her.

She was . . . right there.

He had an urge and went with it. He reached over and curled his fingers around her ponytail, then pulled them gently along the length of it.

And figured the chemistry question was answered by the way her breath went shuddery.

But he didn’t end it there.

“If I’m following all this,” he said, his drawl low. Thick. “You don’t actually have any objections. You think we maybe ought to date first. You’re worried we don’t have chemistry. But at the end of the day, you’re not opposed to the idea.”

“It’s crazy. And I’m worried that you’re crazy, in a clinical sense.”

“If you agree to marry me, I’ll take you on a date or two. If that’s what you want.” His hand was still tangled in her hair, and he was close enough now that he could catch her scent. Gray breathed deep. She smelled like rosemary. And something that reminded him of the pies she and her grandmother had brought over the day after the funeral, warm and good. Right. “But we can settle the other question right here.”

“What do you mean . . . ?”

Gray didn’t wait. He didn’t answer her question, half stammered out with her hazel eyes so wide they looked like summer gold.

He used his free hand to cup her cheek, flushed and smooth beneath his palm. Then he bent—only a little, which struck him as unexpectedly hot—to take her mouth with his.

He felt her tremble. And there was something about the way she melted into him as their lips touched, then brushed, as if she was being pulled by some kind of magnetic force he was half certain he could feel himself.

Gray had only meant to kiss her to make a point. The way a gentleman might, not that he’d ever met too many gentlemen out here where the mountains and the land were the only things that mattered.

But Abby’s lips were soft and velvety beneath his. And she made a tiny sound in the back of her throat that he could feel like a flickering flame.

Before he knew it, Gray was angling his head to one side and licking his way into her mouth.

As if he couldn’t help himself.

And everything got hot. Bright. Impossible.

This was Abby Douglas. Abby Douglas. There was something deliciously wrong about it being Abby that made it hotter, wilder.

It rolled in him and made a joke of him imagining he was in control of any of this. Of her.

Of this sudden storm of sensation that would have taken him off his feet, if that didn’t mean he would have had to let go of her.

When the door slapped open, both of his hands were sunk deep into her hair, and Abby was up on her toes, pressed against him, her arms wrapped around his back.

It turned out Gray wasn’t going to have to worry about easing his way into some or other form of eventual chemistry with the woman he already knew would make him a good rancher’s wife. He was going to have to worry about what the hell to do with all this chemistry—so much it was like a lightning storm and he kept getting hit—with a woman he’d never paid the slightest attention to until his father’s funeral.

The fact that the front door had opened penetrated the heat and fog that was swirling around him.


A wonderful read with emotionally scarred characters that somehow find their happy ever after through a marriage of convenience.

I really loved the beginning of this book, and even though I felt sad for both Gray and Abby at their circumstances, their exchanges did have me laughing. Gray has determined he needs to find a “practical woman” to give his daughter the kind of family she deserves and maybe even help him fill his house with more children, and his practicality has him turning his sites to his neighbor Abby. He thinks he’s come up with a sure thing of a plan, he’ll just ask Abby to marry him – she’s practical, she’ll get it, no problem…
“Your father’s funeral was last week,” Abby said as gently as she could, because Amos’s death had obviously hit him harder than anyone had imagined. “It’s possible you’re having a reaction to that.”

That curve in the corner of his mouth deepened, and even though this was all crazy, it still seemed to sizzle straight through her. “You think I’m breaking out in spontaneous marriage proposals? Is that a thing?”
The truth is that both Gray and Abby carry some deep emotional wounds that have shaped their lives and brought them to this moment – a moment that has the potential to begin the healing process for not just the two of them, but for Gray’s daughter Becca as well. As the story unfolds and more of the past is brought to light as well as the fact that Abby has been in love with Gray since she was younger, it’s clear that both Abby and Gray need to come to terms with their issues before they can find true happiness with each other. Between Abby’s mother and Gray’s father, it wasn’t hard to understand the why’s, and it was heartbreaking at times to see the damage that was caused by the abuse that was doled out by these two characters. And even when things were going good, the undercurrent of those issues was always present.

I loved that Abby wasn’t a pushover; she really seemed to balance her compassion and willingness to help with enough backbone to not get pushed around. She was not afraid to call Gray out when she didn’t agree with him, but she also didn’t hold a grudge and let that rule her day. She truly was exactly what Gray was looking for in a wife when it came to all the practical things and, even better, their chemistry helped them form a bond that set the foundation for something more than practical.

There was quite a bit of angst as Gray deals with his issues, especially once Abby opens her heart to Gray and lets him know how she feels. Normally I’m not a big fan of all the angst but knowing how deep these scars were and how Gray not only needed to reconcile his past with his father but also his relationship with his brothers, I didn’t mind all the conflict. And having Abby be there for Becca as all this unfolded was wonderful.

This is my first book by Caitlin Crews and I really enjoyed the emotional story she crafted. It was easy to get lost in Gray and Abby’s story and feel exactly what they were going through. I look forward to reading more from her and can’t wait to see what stories unfold for Gray’s brothers.

USA Today-bestselling, RITA-nominated, and critically-acclaimed author Caitlin Crews has written more than seventy-five books, including Frenemies, Princess from the Past, A Royal Without Rules, and Undone by the Sultan's Touch. She's won fans with her romance, Harlequin Presents, women's fiction, chick lit, and work-for-hire young adult novels, many of which she writes as Megan Crane (including the dystopian Viking romance Edge series). These days her focus is on contemporary romance in all its forms, from small town heat to international glamour, cowboys to bikers to military men and beyond. She's taught creative writing classes in places like UCLA Extension's prestigious Writers' Program, gives assorted workshops on occasion, and attempts to make use of the MA and PhD in English Literature she received from the University of York in York, England. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with a husband who draws comics and animation storyboards, and their menagerie of ridiculous animals.

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