Cowboy Christmas Redemption
by Maisey Yates
As snowflakes fall in Gold Valley, Oregon, will this rugged cowboy finally win the woman of his dreams?
Cowboy Caleb Dalton has loved single mom Ellie Bell, and her little daughter, Amelia, for years. But since Ellie is his best friend’s widow, Caleb’s head knows Ellie will always be strictly off-limits. If only his heart got the memo. So when Caleb discovers that Ellie has a Christmas wish list—and hopes for a kiss under the mistletoe—he’s throwing his cowboy hat into the ring. If anyone’s going to be kissing Ellie and sharing this magical time with her and her daughter, it’s him.
Ellie has dreaded the holidays since losing her husband. But this year, she’s finally ready to make some changes. She never expects the biggest change to be the heart-stopping kiss she shares with Caleb. For almost five years, Caleb has been her best friend, her rock, her salvation. This Christmas, can Caleb prove he’s also the missing puzzle piece of Ellie’s and Amelia’s hearts?
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“Caleb!” Amelia flung herself off his parents’ front porch and into his arms. He picked her up, and she wrapped her legs around him, clinging tightly to him. And then she leaned forward and kissed his cheek. She smacked her hand against his jaw. “Prickly,” she complained.
Something in his chest tugged. “Well, you caught me at the end of the day, squirt. I need to shave.”
She looked at him and wrinkled her nose. “Am I going to need to shave someday?”
He laughed. And he was surprised how genuinely light he felt in that moment. “Not likely. Your mom doesn’t have a beard, does she?”
“No,” she said, frowning. “My mom says that you have Christmas trees.”
“I do,” he said. “At least, they’re about to be mine. It’s going to be a whole farm of them.”
“I didn’t know you had Christmas trees on a farm,” she said.
“Well, you can. It’s where most of the Christmas trees from the lots come from.”
“I want to see them.”
He hesitated because he knew that if he took Amelia to see the trees, in all likelihood he would have to take Ellie with him. And really, spending time with Ellie and Amelia in the same space right now was strange and loaded.
“All right,” he said. “But only if your mom’s okay with that.”
“She will be,” Amelia said, full of confidence.
He set her down, and she scampered into the house.
“What am I going to be okay with?”
He turned around and saw Ellie. The sight of her just about set him back on his heels. She looked the same as she always did.
But that was the problem.
“Amelia wants to go out and see the Christmas trees,” he said. “I didn’t figure you would mind. I don’t mind taking her by myself, if you need to go home.”
She lifted her shoulder. “No. I don’t mind going up.”
She started to take a step toward him, and his gut tightened. Then the door opened again, and Amelia reappeared with her backpack from preschool, and another stack of old printer paper that his mother had given her to scribble on.
“Can we ride in Caleb’s truck?”
“Yes,” Ellie said.
“I’m sitting in the middle.”
A smile tugged at the corner of Ellie’s lips, and she narrowed her eyes slightly. The impish expression making his gut feel hollow, and effortlessly conveying that she had been hoping for the middle seat.
She was flirting with him.
Now, that, he hadn’t expected.
So maybe this whole making her wait thing was really going to work in his favor.
Cowboy Christmas Redemption is a wonderful book that–at times–was tough to read. Ellie and Caleb have so many things in the way of their HEA–the former existence of Clint, Ellie’s first husband and Caleb’s best friend, constantly hanging over them is just the beginning. So many more of their obstacles are internal–her fear of turning into her mother, which turns into a fear of intense emotion; his belief that he could never be the man that Clint was and that he therefore doesn’t deserve as much as his friend had, along with plenty of guilt over his past actions and feelings–as a result, there’s almost as much going on in their heads as there is on the page. The constant pushing and pulling in their relationship and the conversations they have with each other (and with friends and families) weren’t always easy to read, though they were necessary for them to come through to the other side.
Intense doesn’t even begin to cover it!
If you’re looking for a light-hearted holiday read, this definitely isn’t it. But if you’re looking for realistic characters who have genuine problems to work through that will do so in a way that feels true-to-life–and still manage to get to a HEA and a Merry Christmas for Ellie, Caleb, and Amelia, then give this one a try.
A word of caution: there is a continuing plot line here with Caleb’s family that has been going on for several books now and looks to continue for a few more–those new to the series may feel a bit lost at times, not knowing all the details of the complicated relationships there. The focus here really is with Caleb and Ellie, though; as long as you don’t get too bogged down in understanding all of the Dalton family drama, this wouldn’t be a bad place to pick up the series. Just don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel the need to add the first 7 books to your TBR, though 😉
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the author:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit.
In 2009, at the age of twenty-three Maisey sold her first book. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sexy alpha males and happily ever afters, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances set just about everywhere on earth and light sexy contemporary romances set practically in her back yard. She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world.