Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Date of publication: October 30th. 2018
Series: Cold River Ranch
A True Cowboy Christmas–book 1
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 are 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 smartphone. You make a commit-
ment 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 state-
ments,” 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
46 CAITLIN CREWS
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
“It’s crazy. And I’m worried that you’re crazy, in a clin-
“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.
A TRUE COWBOY CHRISTMAS 47
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
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 chem-
istry with the woman he already knew would make him a
good rancher’s wife. He was going to have to worry about
48 CAITLIN CREWS
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
The fact that the front door had opened penetrated the
heat and fog that was swirling around him.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
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?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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 Ph.D.
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
BUY THE BOOK:
Caitlin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/megancrane
Caitlin’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeganCraneAndCaitlinCrews
Caitlin’s Website: https://megancrane.com/
SMP Romance Twitter: https://twitter.com/heroesnhearts & https://twitter.com/SMPRomance
SMP Romance Website: https://heroesandheartbreakers.com/
When I got the invitation to review A True Cowboy Christmas, I laughed. Seeing that my invite was back in July, I wasn’t even thinking of Christmas yet. Christmas wasn’t even on my radar. But, when I read the blurb on Goodreads, I knew that I had to read this book. Why? It was a western for one. They have become one of my favorite romance genre’s to read. The other reason was that it was a Christmas romance. Those are always good books to read. So I figured, mixing those two books would be fantastic. And I was right.
A True Cowboy Christmas is about Abby and Gray’s romance. Abby had been in love with Gray her entire life. She never thought that he would notice her. She also never imagined that she would be married to him. Gray has known Abby his entire life. But, at his father’s funeral, Gray notices her. Deciding that he can now remarry, Gray approaches Abby and she agrees. What they both weren’t expecting was a red-hot passion to spring up between them. They also didn’t expect Abby’s venomous mother and the ghost of Gray’s father to get in the way of the marriage. Can they overcome everything? Or will Abby leave Gray like every other woman in his life?
Having the main characters be engaged within the first two chapters of the book put me off a bit. I couldn’t understand why Gray decided that he needed to be married and it had to be to Abby. He barely knew her. Barely noticed her. I will admit that I eyerolled hardcore during those scenes. I also, prematurely, called for this book to be a fluff piece. A book where there is little to no drama and the main characters get along famously after they get married. Yeah, shouldn’t have done that.
I was surprised at the layers that the characters had. I wasn’t expecting Abby to have such a screwed up childhood or a mother that hated her. I also thought that her grandmother, who raised her, would step in and stop the verbal abuse. She didn’t. I also wasn’t expecting Gray to have as many layers as he did. His childhood was worse than Abby’s. I didn’t understand until he started telling Abby why Christmas wasn’t celebrated in the house. My heart broke for him. Even the secondary characters had layers. It was insane!!
I loathed Lilly. She was a despicable human being. I didn’t want to believe that she could be as nasty as she was to her own daughter. I was even more shocked when Abby’s grandmother stood up for Lilly. I wanted to scream “Why are you letting her talk to Abby that way? WHY” No wonder Abby had self-esteem issues. I will say that I cheered when Gray put Lilly in her place at Thanksgiving. And I fist pumped when Abby finally did. And yes, I get too vested in these books…lol.
I liked Abby but I also felt bad for her. Her self-esteem was at a zero. She was pining away for a man who didn’t even notice her. If I were in her shoes, I would have acted the same way when Gray put everything on the table. I also understood why she wanted nothing to do with Lilly. I mean, the way that woman treated her awful and she didn’t want anything to do with her. I did think her love of Christmas was infectious. She started getting me in the Christmas mood while reading the book.
I had a harder time connecting to Gray. He was too even-keeled for my taste. It took me a while to realize that he was as damaged as Abby was. Maybe even more. Then I started feeling bad for him when he started opening up to Abby about his childhood and why he didn’t celebrate Christmas. What I didn’t get was why he thought his father would have changed with a grandchild. It seemed that his father did as much damage to Becca as he did to his own sons.
The secondary characters made this book. Gray’s brothers added an interesting element to the story. I also liked Abby’s best friends. As for Abby’s grandmother, I didn’t care for her. She didn’t know how to put her foot down with her daughter and make her stop saying those things to Abby. Becca was a sweetheart but she had her issues too. Mainly from her grandfather. But such a sweet girl and one of the few people who stood up for Abby.
I didn’t care for the sex scenes. While they were well written, they didn’t do anything for me. For someone who lived like a monk, Gray had amazing stamina. And Abby didn’t feel any discomfort when her virginity was taken. It didn’t feel true to me. I did get the passion and love, though. But I didn’t connect with the sex scenes.
The end of the book was amazing. Talk about a Christmas miracle. What Gray did was amazing and brought tears to my eyes. And the news that Abby had for him, was amazing. I am hoping that there will be another book in the series. I would love to see one about Ty or Brady. Or one of Abby’s friends!!
What I liked about A True Cowboy Christmas:
- Characters had layers
- Could connect to the main characters
- The end of the book
What I disliked about A True Cowboy Christmas:
- Abby and Gray being engaged without knowing each other.
- Lilly. I loathed her.
- The sex scenes. Didn’t do it for me.
I gave A True Cowboy Christmas a 3.5-star rating. I loved that this book took place around Christmas. I was surprised at how layered the characters were. I liked that I could connect to the characters on a personal level. And I loved the end of the book. But there were things that I disliked. I didn’t like Abby and Gray being engaged right off the bat. I didn’t like the sex scenes. And I loathed Lilly.
I would give A True Cowboy Christmas an Adult rating. There is sex but it is not explicit. There is mild language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would recommend A True Cowboy Christmas to family and friends. I would also reread this book.
I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review A True Cowboy Christmas.
All opinions stated in this review of A True Cowboy Christmas are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**