I keep telling myself every holiday season I’m going to read more Christmas stories. So when I ran across Carolyn Brown’s latest, I decided to start there. Despite a couple of issues, you do get the feeling of the season, lots of snow, chopping down and decorating the Christmas tree, all along with a sexy cowboy any woman would love to spend a quiet, warm evening on the sofa in front of a roaring fireplace.
Aside from Creed Riley, our hero of the book, I also enjoyed the mistletoe theme that’s weaved throughout the story. But first thing’s first. Creed has just made an agreement to buy the Rockin’ C Ranch in Duro Canyon from Sage’s grandmother. He’s been looking for the perfect ranch to call his own, and since the price is right, even with an odd stipulation, Creed thinks he’s found just the place. There’s a blizzard in the making, and if he’s lucky, he might have a few more days to himself in his new home before the terror of the canyon shows up.
Of course, his luck doesn’t hold out. Sage does whatever it takes to get through the storm and to the ranch before the brunt of it hits. She just makes it. Determined to talk her grandmother out of selling their home, she doesn’t realize she’s too late. Her grandmother has made the deal and it’s Creed she finds in the house instead. I’m happy to say that Ms. Brown doesn’t prolong the antagonism between these characters overmuch. That’s been my one beef in a lot of her books; the meanness just goes on and on. But this time, once Sage gets to know Creed and because they’re stranded while the blizzard rages, their attraction takes center stage much sooner.
Sage is an artist, a very talented and successful one at that. She’s now got plenty of time to set up her easel and create more for a future exhibit. Seeing the mistletoe that Creed has tracked into the house gives her the inspiration she needs to start a new collection. I really enjoyed this part of the story. Starting with the mistletoe, Sage’s ideas come from the paint gods, and what she comes up with is perfect for the holiday season. Creed also encourages her when it comes to her talent, something she’s not had outside her family. Sage is learning very quickly what a gentleman Creed is, how he looks at life and how he lives that life. What she learns she can’t help but like, but the man is still after her family home.
I do like Creed a lot. He’s the perfect cowboy gentleman from a loving home. He knows what he wants and he goes for it. Sage included. It does take a little bit to warm up to Sage, since she’s the one with the attitude against Creed in the beginning. This is a basic format in Ms. Brown’s books, which makes it feel as though you’re reading the same story, just different characters. So it’s nice this book doesn’t take that format too far. That being said, Sage does grow on you after a while once she sees what’s most important in her life.
One thing that makes reading Ms. Brown’s stories a little off kilter is her dialogue. While she has grown a bit in the areas I’ve already mentioned, dialogue is something that’s not grown at all. The main problem is the non-use of contractions more often. They are used at the beginning of a sentence and then suddenly they’re not used and the reading becomes stiff and awkward. And people just don’t talk to each other the way these characters do. A lot of the dialogue is used for information dumping at times. There’s also a lot of abrupt topic changes in conversations, which is disconcerting. I keep hoping Ms. Brown will take advantage of her RWA affiliations to help in this area.
But another area where she’s grown as an author is the love scenes. In early books those scenes didn’t go very far, to the extent where you felt a tad cheated when she closed the bedroom door on you after all that sexual innuendo and tension. However, in this book we’re more a part of the bed play, getting to know these characters even more, and that adds an extra layer to the entire story.
So if you’re looking for a Christmas read, try this one. Despite those couple of issues, it’s fun and has several nice ideas that make up for the missteps. A nice surprise, indeed.
‘Tis the season for…
- A matchmaking grandma on a long-disantance mission
- Mistletoe temptation in every doorway
- A sexy cowboy with a killer smile
When Gran Presely agrees to sell Creed Riley the Rockin’ C Ranch for a song at Christmastime, he can hardly believe his good fortune. There’s just one little catch-her tantalizing granddaughter Sage is part of the deal…
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: