Sandy M’s review of Wishing for a Cowboy by Adams, Miranda, Garrett, Pierson, McNeal, et al.
Historical Western Romance Romance published by Prairie Rose Publications 27 Oct 13
I have to say that this is one of the better anthologies that I’ve read in a long time. Especially considering the fact there are eight authors involved instead of the usual four or five. Nearly every novella in this anthology works for me, and that very seldom happens when I crack one open. Thus, I’m very impressed with the collection of authors Prairie Rose has brought together, as well as the talent of each of those authors.
A Christmas Miracle by Phyliss Miranda
I enjoy a story that much more if the main characters just seem to fit right off the bat. That is definitely the case with Mattie Jo Ashley and Dr. Grant Spencer. Mattie Jo’s mother is dead and her father is an outlaw who left his family behind. Despite being ostracized by the townsfolk of Carroll Creek, Texas, Mattie Jo is determined to raise her little sister with love. Right now the little girl is desperately ill and the new doctor is needed, but Mattie Jo has no money to spare. Thank heavens there are a few people in town who don’t hate her on sight, so with their coin in hand Mattie Jo begins her hunt for the doc.
Not to be dictated to by the unChristian-like attitude of his neighbors, Grant Spencer accompanies the pretty Mattie Jo to her home. There he finds her sister seriously ill and informs Mattie Jo he’ll not leave until she’s out of the woods. In such close confines in such dire circumstances, Grant and Mattie Jo learn so much about one another in the days before Christmas.
A very heart-warming story for the holiday season.
Acceptance comes not through frosty eyes, but from the warmth of loving hearts.
No excerpt available.
Outlaw’s Kiss by Cheryl Pierson
I always love an outlaw cowboy. A bad boy of the west. Jake Morgan is definitely a bad boy, smoldering and sexy. He’s also in trouble, and the first place he thinks to head toward is Talia’s. Even knowing he should stay away, standing on her porch bleeding, he can’t make himself walk away, and then it’s too late. She’s there, helping him in every way, gentle, kind, and beautiful.
When last Jake was in town, Talia’s reputation hit the skids when he kissed her in front of nearly everyone at a local event. She should send him on his way, but that kiss has been on her mind for months and now she can’t help but hope for more, especially since she’d just wished for this exact thing. But that will have to be after the man is all healed up, of course.
I enjoyed these two immensely. It takes Jake a bit to realize he can not only reach for happiness, but he can have it too. I also like the relationship between him and Talia’s younger brother, Michael. Maybe a bad boy of the west with a good heart in training? Christmas wishes do come true.
A pet peeve not related to this book or story is the author’s web site that is not up to date at all. This anthology is nowhere to be found, thus making my endeavor of getting all the necessary info for this review much more time consuming. That doesn’t mean anything as far as my review, just sort of a shout-out to the author.
A long-ago schooldays crush is rekindled by an Outlaw’s Kiss that sparks true love, and a new future for Jake Morgan and Talia Delano.
No excerpt available.
A Husband for Christmas by Sarah J. McNeal
I like the little added extras we get in this story. Jane Pierpont and her family decided to head to the Americas – on the Titantic. She and her son, Robin, survived the disaster, her husband did not. Living in Wyoming, operating her own dress shop, and raising her son have kept Jane alive but not her dreams. Even after seven years, finding another love and having more children? Probably not in her future.
Teekonka Red Sky is the local mechanic, and he’s taken a shine to both Jane and Robin. He’s spending time with the boy after school to teach him the tools of his trade, and now his sights are set on Jane. I like that he doesn’t pussyfoot around, lets her know what he wants. She resists, though this is what Jane thought she’d never have again. But her husband is dead, how can she forget him so soon? Jane needs some remindin’ she’s a woman and Teekonka is the man to do just that. He’s also the one to show her how to really live again. Teekonka isn’t without his own tragedies. So between the straightforward flirting and romancing, bonding with her son, bringing a Christmas tree to her door, and remembering the good parts of marriage, Jane doesn’t stand a chance. It’s going to be the best Christmas ever.
A nice story with characters who need each other. My only nitpick is I could never warm up to Teekonka’s name. Just a bit to hard around the edges, I guess you could say.
A haunting night of horror and a wish for a new life.
Read an excerpt.
Peaches by Kathleen Rice Adams
This is my favorite story of the anthology. Also my favorite hero. Whit McCandless is a rancher, and he takes his ranchin’ business seriously. So much so he doesn’t have time for anything else. Especially that new school teacher and her young son who is always trespassing. Oh, and that peach orchard. He’d have pulled those trees out by the roots years ago if his family would let him. Peaches ain’t for him, in any shape or form. His innards roil at the mention or smell of the damned fruit.
First meeting Whit, though he’d just brought her wayward, near-frozen son home, doesn’t go over well with Ruth Avery. She calls him a bear and that is a very apt description of the man having to take time from his ranch that won’t run itself. And she doesn’t endear herself to him when she offers him a peach pie for his help with her son. It takes a couple of meetings before that bear begins to be tamed. But those are really fun scenes between them, as are those between Whit and his aunts. Everyone gives him what-for, but the man hangs on to his cantankerousness something fierce. But it’s when Whit quotes Dickens and reads to her sons that Ruth begins to melt toward him, makes her curious about the man beneath that gruff exterior. Hopefully he’ll relent and make it to the Christmas Social, something he never does apparently, but when Ruth’s mistake makes dessert impossible for the townsfolk, it’s Whit who steps in to assist, despite his reaction to peaches.
I love Whit. The entire book sounds and feels true to the west, and Whit is 100% cowboy. He talks the talk and walks the walk. And I like the transformation he goes through, learning that his ranch can do without him a day or two and having Ruth and her boys in his life is worth anything. She’s perfect for him. Terrific story!
When a strong-willed schoolteacher invades an irascible rancher’s Texas range, not even the spirit of Christmas may be able to prevent all-out war.
Read an excerpt.
A Gift for Rhoda by Jacquie Rogers
Nate Harmon is home. Even if he isn’t sure of the welcome he’ll get from his parents after the way he left, it’s time. But what he gets instead of mom and dad is a shotgun-packin’ woman who won’t answer his hails. It’s cold and he’s hungry, but it looks as though he’s going to have to keep fending for himself until whoever it is in his parents’ home decides to face him. Poor guy works while he waits, milks cows, repairs the barn, you name it.
Being alone in the middle of nowhere has it ups and downs. One of those downs is now at the front of the house and…bringing her fresh milk? Rhoda isn’t sure what to think about that. She knows he can’t be telling the truth about being the Harmons’ son. Mrs. Harmon has never once mentioned a child to her. Finally deciding to find out what’s going on, she invites the man inside, all the while keeping her shotgun at the ready.
Eventually the story comes out as these two spend time together, which is nice and heartwarming, but I don’t feel a connection to them beyond having coffee and chatting. There’s not all that much, other than stories, that pull them together. Well, at least for Rhoda. She watches Nate do all that work, so she does know to an extent what kind of man he is, after she discovers he’s not a liar. But I don’t see where the attraction comes in for Nate as quickly as it does. More time is needed in this situation for love grow.
Again, no information about this book on the author’s site. Quite frustrating.
A mail-order bride disaster!
No excerpt available.
Her Christmas Wish by Tracy Garrett
I really like our heroine in this novella. Kathryn McConnell is a widow, a woman on her own who takes care of a Texas stagecoach station, because that’s all she had left when her husband died. That and a herd of longhorns she hasn’t done a thing with for two years, if she’d had any options to do anything. Currently content with her lot in life and trying not to look forward nor in the past, Kathryn is surprised when part of her past walks into her life again.
Will O’Brien is just as surprised as Kathryn. Finding her after all these years is like coming home. Will is happy to pick up right where they left off fifteen years ago, but Katie is reluctant since he’s the one who left her, broke her heart so long ago. But they quickly discover that there was betrayal from both of their families, those machinations keeping them apart for so long. Now they have a new set of issues to get through, because they’re different people after all this time, and heartache is one difficult thing to let go.
I really enjoyed Katie’s and Will’s first meeting, his reaction to her. Talk about sexy and romantic. It’s small such elements that make me love a character. When Katie decides to help Will during a tense moment later in the story, that’s her way of showing she cares. They work together around the station, bringing them closer to one another, though they don’t realize it at first. Or rather, it’s Kathryn who doesn’t. She resists as long as she can, but it’s that tense moment that brings home to her what she truly has in Will.
My second favorite story in the book. I love Will and Kathryn’s strength is awesome.
Her only wish for Christmas was the man who left her behind.
No excerpt available.
Covenant by Tanya Hanson
I like the emotion and intensity of this story. Ella is waiting for her husband to come home. She’d had it all as a mail-order bride – a handsome husband, a beautiful daughter, and then everything was lost with the death of Charlotte. Carsten has now been gone three months, and Ella is about to lose hope that he’ll ever return to her. Left to her memories of the short time they had as a family, she’s also had to keep the sheriff at bay, the man telling her at every turn that Carsten has to be dead or he’d be home by now.
Keeping busy working from ranch to ranch, Carsten is fighting the guilt he feels for leaving. Their union has turned to love, and he needs to go back to make sure Ella knows how he feels. He first has to complete the special gift he’s creating for her, and then he’s headed home to ask for her forgiveness. But what he finds is what he least expects, which makes him doubt everything he thought he knew.
Even though the characters are apart for the first part of the story, it’s full of emotion as they try to get through the time they’re separated. I do feel, however, that for Carsten to jump to his conclusion after everything they’d been through is a bit out of character. They’re both still grieving and need each other, so that reaction just doesn’t sit well and is a sticking point for me.
Can a Christmas blizzard ignite love gone cold?
No excerpt available.
Charlie’s Pie by Livia J. Washburn
I like the beginning of this story – an injured man stumbles onto a homestead and the lady of the house has to be careful when she’s alone this particular day. She learns, of course, that the man is not an outlaw but a law man who’s on the trail of the real outlaws. But as things progress and you figure out where they could end up, I was afraid it would all be over the top. Unfortunately, I was right.
Lauralee Brannum has just taken her son’s birthday pecan pie out of the oven and it’s cooling for later in the day. That’s when Burke Avery staggers out of the woods, obviously injured with a gunshot wound. Not able to leave him without help, Lauralee bravely takes him inside her home to doctor him as best she can. Relief he’s not an outlaw, she learns he’s a Texas Ranger and was shot by the group of outlaws he’s trying to catch.
As they’re getting to know one another, riders make their way to the house, claiming to be Rangers themselves and force their way inside to search for their “outlaw.” Not finding the culprit, they take their leave – along with Charlie’s pie. This upsets Lauralee something fierce. There’s no time and no other ingredients to bake another. Up to this point I’m enjoying everything, but I have a sneaking suspicion what Lauralee is about to do and the impetus behind it. Okay, I can understand to a point the why of it all, but I had hoped she would come to her senses.
It’s after the outlaws are subdued and she and Burke are back on the homestead that he also figures out what’s happening and confronts Lauralee. I enjoyed this part of the story too, Burke’s tenderness and Lauralee’s hesitation but need to look toward the future. I just wish there’d been another way the author could have gotten me there.
Again, as of the writing of this review, there’s no book information on Ms. Washburn’s web site. Doesn’t reflect in my grade, just noting a frustration.
A wounded man, a desperate woman, a gang of ruthless outlaws…and the best pecan pie in Parker County!
No excerpt available.
As usual, some stories are better than others, but what I like most of all about this anthology is that I like all of the novellas. Usually there’s one or two that don’t work for me at all, but each of these authors give readers a nice Christmas story full of heart, warmth, holiday fare for the table – including recipes at the end of the book – and love where it’s least expected. I got caught up with some old favorites and found some new ones for the future. Pick this one up if you haven’t already.
Prairie Rose Publications has another anthology out next month, featuring each of these authors again. I look forward to that after having such fun with these novellas.
Overall Grade: B+