by Lisa Jackson, Maisey Yates, Nicole Helm, Stacy Finz
Series: The Garner Brothers #3.5
Also in this series: Want You, Love You
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Open your heart to the holidays with these stories of unexpected love . . .
A BABY FOR CHRISTMAS * Lisa Jackson
The uneventful Christmas Annie McFarlane expected is suddenly anything but. First, there’s the adorable baby left on the snowy doorstep of her Oregon cabin. Second, there’s the extremely attractive, yet extremely angry man claiming to be the father. Liam O’Shaughnessy may be intimidating, but this is one precious gift Annie isn’t giving up so easily . . .
WHAT THE COWBOY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS * Maisey Yates
When Meg O’Neill’s longtime boyfriend lets her down, again, on Christmas no less, she braves an Oregon blizzard to get to her best friend Noah’s comforting arms. But this time Noah’s not telling her what she wants to hear—he’s telling her the truth, from his heart. And his words just might be the gift Meg’s been wishing for all along.
SNOWED IN * Stacy Finz
Rachel Johnson has found the perfect spot for her second Tart Me Up bakery in Glory Junction, California. Except she’s in fierce competition with hunky bar owner Boden Farmer. Worse, while the icy rivals await the city’s decision, they end up catering the same Christmas Eve mountaintop wedding—and getting snowed in. But sometimes a loss of electricity generates a different kind of heat . . .
A COWBOY WEDDING FOR CHRISTMAS * Nicole Helm
Big city art teacher Lindsay Tyler isn’t just back home in Colorado for her brother’s wedding at the Barton Christmas Tree Farm and Ranch. She’s back for good. She just hasn’t told anyone yet—including Cal Barton, the ex-boyfriend she left behind. Will it take a Christmas miracle for him to welcome her back with open arms? . . .
I picked this up for the Stacy Finz story, as I’m not much of a cowboy romance fan, but I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked most of the stories.
“I don’t want to scare you.”
“It doesn’t scare me,” she said, swallowing hard. “But I wonder how I didn’t see it.”
She looked up, her eyes meeting his. “It’s because you were looking at him,” he responded.
“What the Cowboy Wants For Christmas” – Maisey Yates – ★★★★
Meg, Charlie and Noah were all foster kids as teens together, and have stayed friends as they grew into adults, though Meg and Charlie became a couple. When an impromptu Christmas visit surprises Charlie in bed with someone else, Meg runs back to Noah. As she realizes she stayed with Charlie mostly out of habit, she gradually realizes that she may have ignored her feelings for Noah so that she could stay with what was safe and familiar. This was particularly sweet and I loved the author’s style. While there’s a lot of backstory to their relationship, it felt like it was well covered in the space of the story. I can’t believe I haven’t picked up anything by Ms. Yates before and she’ll definitely be going on my TBR list.
“He looked up and held her gaze. “How come you’re being so nice? You usually act like you don’t like me.”
Well, that had been blunt. “I like you just fine, but I view you as a competitor for something I want. Very badly.”
“Snowed In” – Stacy Finz – ★★★★
I’ve read the other Garner Brothers books, and I’ve loved the love/hate chemistry between Rachel, the local bakery/coffee shop owner, and Boden, the owner of the local bar. This story picks up after the last book with both competing to get the lease on one of the last remaining undeveloped buildings in their small town. In the midst of the presentations to the town council, they both are contracted for a Christmas wedding at a remote cabin… and well, you can guess what happens. Yes, it’s quite predictable, but I loved the characters and especially Rachel’s drive. While you get some added background if you’ve read the series, I think this would work fine as a standalone.
“She’d always liked that, that Cal had roots just like hers. Old and settled into the land, but unlike her family’s straightforward cattle ranch, Cal had this amazing, festive, and unique history.
Cal was none of those things, which had always pleased her. Her gruff, taciturn cowboy whose smile was mostly just for her because he didn’t smile for much else.”
“A Cowboy Wedding for Christmas” – Nicole Helm – ★★★★
This is another author I haven’t read before, but I enjoyed it. Unlike the previous two stories, which were pretty light, this one was quite angsty. Lindsey left her hometown six years ago to try to find her place in the world, and is now uncomfortable to admit that the only place that feels like “home” is the one she abandoned. Plus, the only person she’s ever loved was her high school boyfriend, Cal, who seems to view her with nothing but contempt now. Cal was… well, he was a bit of a jerk, and I was very glad when he finally snapped out of it. While I found this one harder reading than the others, it had a good payoff. I think my main issue was that it just felt out of tune with the previous two stories. I think I’ll look up more of Ms. Helm’s books, though.
“A Baby for Christmas” – Lisa Jackson – ★
I’m not a fan of any of the baby tropes to begin with, so I think I was just destined to not like this story. Plus, of all the ones in this anthology, this is the only one that felt, well, incomplete in the novella format. There were too many POVs and not enough focus on the core relationship to sell this to me. For one thing, the characters go from almost complete strangers to in love and getting married in two weeks, and that’s not even counting the influence of all the stress of taking care of a newborn. The story was set in the 90s, and honestly, this reads more like one of the mediocre category romances of that era.
Overall, I enjoyed most of the stories in this anthology, and would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of cowboy romances!