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Sandy M’s review of The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby (Cowboys & Brides, Book 2) by Carolyn Brown
Contemporary Western Romance published by Sourcebooks Casablanca 24 Sep 13

I like the subtlety of the “miracle” of Christmas that is woven throughout this story. All takes is the innocence of babes.

Lucas is finally home from the war. His last tour has just ended, he’s ready for hearth and home and Natalie. They’ve been corresponding via internet for nearly the last year, brought together by the death of their mutual friend, Drew. So Lucas can’t wait to meet her in person at last. But the woman standing in his yard with a baby on her hip, a smokin’ pink pistol in hand, and a dead coyote at her feet is not the Natalie he thought he knew.

Coming across Texas at Christmastime is a chance Natalie hopes will work out, especially because she never mentioned the fact she’ll have a baby in tow when she finally comes face to face with Lucas. Her fears are confirmed when Lucas comes home two days early and clearly isn’t happy when he spies Joshua. Well, her mother is waiting for her on the other side of the state, she might as well get going.

But Lucas’ family is having none of that. They coerce her to stay and help out until their cook/housekeeper can return once she’s recuperated from a recent fall. She’s gotten through worse, so a month in a houseful of men, including the one she’d been hoping for more with, will fly by in a snap. Having her son is a blessing, and this Allen family is treating them both like their own. That’s one thing about Ms. Brown’s book I do like, is her sense of family. They’re always big, boisterous, and fun.

At first I didn’t like the fact that Lucas is so hell-bent on hating the fact that Natalie has a son. Yes, she should have said something to him, despite her fear of his reaction, but the child isn’t to blame. Even when he discovers it’s Drew who is the boy’s father doesn’t change his attitude much. But my heart melted the first time Josh grabs holds of Lucas’ finger and pins him with that all-encompassing baby gaze. Needless to say, Lucas’ heart melts a little too and thus begins the relationship between them that gets stronger with every page.

I had to laugh at every animal that makes it way to the ranch house, as if drawn by some unseen element, which is exactly what it is. I kept waiting for it to become too much over and over again, but it actually is fun watching every type of barnyard and working-ranch animal show up at the doors and windows to confuse everyone inside. Also quite enjoyable is Lucas’ father and grandfather wanting to hold Joshua, feed him, watch him enjoy the Christmas lights, and a host of other activities. There’s also matchmaking going on when the family realizes things may not work out between Natalie and Lucas, but they needn’t have worried too much. The would-be lovers do talk to one another – when they’re not snipping at each other – and it’s not long before all that sexual tension, even anger and frustration, leads to some serious lovin’.

There’s a few issues that do take away from the story. Inconsistency; i.e., Lucas and his friend Noah are having a conversation, and Noah leaves by the front door. Then havoc ensues when the puppies rush into the house amid the get-together going on, mischievously attack Sonia (Lucas’ ex-girlfriend), and then, lo and behold, Noah exits the bathroom just in time to see some of this happening. Huh? Thought Noah was gone for the night.

Next is dialogue. Every character sounds exactly the same, uses the same words in the same way, same tone, same everything. Doesn’t matter who’s talking, there’s never any variance whatsoever in speech pattern. Very disconcerting. As is the way her characters speak to one another. Normal people don’t speak without contractions and they’re usually nicer to one another, especially family members and others they care for. They also don’t impart information in conversation that the entire house already knows; i.e., how far down the road grandpa lives and that type of thing. Also, the habit the author seems to have of quoting or working in country music songs in every book just doesn’t work anymore. This is done in nearly every book of hers that I’ve read, and that’s a number so far. There’s got to be something else she can come up with to guide her characters other than songs. That’s a bit boring after being used so often, time for something new.

But despite these issues, Ms. Brown still has a way of giving readers likable characters. Her sense of humor helps, along with all her southern-isms, which sometimes remind me of my grandmother. I also like the way the Christmas theme is used throughout this book, which is what I was looking for when I decided to read it. You get the feeling of the holiday with all the snow, the decorating, and the Christmas shopping in a crowded mall. So it does satisfy as a happy holiday read.

Overall, a good, fun read.

sandym-iconGrade: C+


Texas soldier Drew Camp introduces his best friend, school basketball coach Natalie Clark, to his Desert Storm buddy Lucas Allen. While chatting online with Lucas, Natalie fails to mention that she’s pregnant with Drew’s child. Meanwhile, Drew is killed in action. Lucas returns to his family ranch to discover Natalie filling in for the injured housekeeper; meanwhile, Lucas’s father, grandfather, ranch hand, and an assortment of local animals are thoroughly smitten with baby Joshua, Natalie and Drew’s son. The few conflicts are low-key; Brown focuses on falling in love and the ripple effect it can bring to a family or community, plus there’s a hint of a holiday miracle.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:

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