Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on October 3rd 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
In the wild and untamed West, it takes cowboy's embrace to see you through a long winter's night. Stay toasty this holiday season with heart-warming tales from bestselling authors Leigh Greenwood, Rosanne Bittner, Linda Broday, Margaret Brownley, Anna Schmidt, and Amy Sandas.
The Beating Heart of Christmas
Whether it's a lonely spinster finding passion at last...an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole...a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places...a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman...two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice...or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes...a Christmas spent in a cowboy's arms is full of hope, laughter, and--most of all--love.
What People Are Saying: "Greenwood is a master at westerns." --RT Book Reviews for Leigh Greenwood "An emotional powerhouse! This classic historical western is destined for the "keeper" shelf." --RT Book Reviews, Top Pick for Rosanne Bittner "Fun and sensual...great for fans of history, romance, and some good old Texas grit."--Kirkus for Linda Broday "A great story by a wonderful author."--#1 New York Times bestselling author DEBBIE MACOMBER for Margaret Brownley "The perfect read." --RT Book Reviews for Anna Schmidt"A genuine page-turner...electric and absorbing." --Kirkus for Amy Sandas
From “Father Christmas” by Leigh Greenwood
“If you’re going to shoot me, get on your feet first. I’d hate to have it known I was killed by a woman so weak she couldn’t stand up.”
“I can stand up,” Mary insisted. To prove her point, she threw back the covers and started to get to her feet. Immediately she felt faint.
Joe caught her before she fell.
“I never met such a foolish woman in my life. Stay in that bed, or I’ll tie you down. You can shoot me when you feel better. Meantime, you’d better give me this.” He took the pistol from her slackened grasp. “Next thing you know, you’ll drop it and put a hole through the chicken pot. I’m not chasing down another rooster.”
Mary started to laugh. The whole situation was too absurd. Nothing like this happened to ordinary people. She was ordinary, so it shouldn’t be happening to her.
She certainly shouldn’t be experiencing this odd feeling. It almost felt as if she wanted to cry. But she didn’t feel sad. She felt bemused and bewildered. Her brain was numb. Here she was, completely helpless, and she had tried to shoot the only human who had come along to help her.
She must be losing her mind.
From “A Chick-a-Dee Christmas” by Rosanne Bittner
“Sadie Mae!” Jake screamed her name as he made it around the other side of the small hill. He couldn’t see or hear her. All he saw was Tommy curled up on his knees against one of the boulders, a cougar clawing at his shoulder.
Jesus, where is Sadie Mae! Jake had to kill the cougar, but the bullet could go right through into Tommy or even into Sadie Mae. He could kill both of them!
“Grampa! Grampa!” he heard someone screaming behind him.
The boys must be watching. “Don’t shoot!” Jake ordered them.
It all happened in a matter of perhaps three seconds. Jake knew he had no choice. He cocked and raised his 30-30 Winchester. A six-gun might not do the job … but the risk! The risk! The big cat was moving violently over Tommy. Sadie Mae must be under him! One of the other kids could be next! He aimed … and prayed … and fired … cocked the rifle again … fired again.
From “The Christmas Stranger” by Linda Broday
Hank slowly tugged the long silk ribbon from around her neck, trailing the red fabric down one arm. He leaned closer. “There’s some mistletoe right over your head. I hope I’m not pressing my luck, but do you mind if I kiss you again?”
A happy, warm glow swept over her. “I don’t see anyone trying to fight you,” she whispered.
He pulled her up into his arms and drew the ribbon around her, tethering her to him. Sidalee had never felt more alive, more breathless, more…hot.
She tilted her face to him, feeling the wild beat of his heart that matched hers. He gently anchored her against the hard wall of his chest. The moment his lips touched hers, an aching hunger swept through her, turning her knees to pudding.
The yearning for him was so strong she clutched him to keep from falling in a puddle at his feet. One arm curled around his neck just under his hair. The strands brushed her skin like tiny feathers.
That’s when she knew she was falling in love with Hank Destry.
From “A Texas Ranger for Christmas” by Margaret Brownley
“Sadie, I care for you. I really do. I care for Adam, too. Is there a chance you and I can—?”
The question hung between them, the air taut with tension. At least he didn’t say love. Had he said he loved her, she would have been a goner for sure.
“No. No chance,” she said. Bad news was best delivered quickly and with as few words as possible.
He looked like she had hit him. “After last night I thought…”
“You thought wrong,” she snapped. Afraid of losing control, she curled her hands tight by her side. “All that fancy talk about retirin’ is just that—talk. You’ll always be a Texas Ranger. You won’t be able to help yourself. Rangers don’t make very good husbands. Don’t make good fathers, either.”
“I told you I planned on quitting and I meant it.”
She heaved a sigh. “Richard told me the same thing, and he’d lasted here at the farm three months. Three lousy months!”
“I’m not Richard.”
“No, but you’re one of them. Just like Richard and my pa. Pa promised to quit, too. But there was always another outlaw to chase. Another call to adventure.”
As a child she couldn’t compete with the lure of the rangers. But neither had she been able to compete as a grown woman.
Cole’s burning eyes held hers. “I’ll always be there for you,” he said, “And that’s a promise.”
She scoffed. “Those are mighty pretty words. They were pretty when Papa said them. They were pretty when Richard said them, too. But you know what? They don’t mean beans.”
For several moments the only sound was Adam banging on the table with his spoon.
“Sadie,” he said at last, his voice thick with emotion. “How can I prove that I mean what I say? What will it take?” His tender eyes met hers. “How can I make you believe that I will never leave you?”
“You can’t,” she whispered. It near broke her heart to say it, but it was better to lose him before the first stirrings of love turned into something deeper. As hard as it was now, it would be so much harder, later. “You can’t.”
From “A Christmas Baby” by Anna Schmidt
Louisa Johnson was late slipping out of the house, but she knew Rico would be there waiting. She had come to a decision and she would not be denied, not even by her father—a man she had adored her entire life, but one who now stood in the way of her being with Rico. She had no idea how to make things right with her father. What she knew with more certainty than she had ever known anything in her nineteen years was that she loved Rico Mendez and he was devoted to her. If her father couldn’t accept that—couldn’t look past their differences and see Rico for the kind, hard-working man he was—then she would have to force his hand.
From “A Christmas Reunion” by Amy Sandas
Her voice hit him like a blow straight to his sternum. Warren took an instinctive step back. Old memories sliced through him like the sharp edge of a scalpel against raw flesh.
It couldn’t be.
They were hundreds of miles from where he had last seen Honey Prentice in Montana. That distance was the only thing that had made it possible for him to come back out West. He had assured himself there was no chance he’d accidentally run into the woman who had torn his heart from his chest all those years ago.
But her gasp as she stepped out into the room told him he’d been wrong.
She was as beautiful as she had been as a girl of seventeen.
And she was not happy to see him.
She crossed the room with long, swift strides that had her cotton skirts whipping about her legs. In an easy movement, she pulled the bearded outlaw’s gun from his belt before he knew what she was about and then turned the weapon on Warren.
Fire flashed in her brown eyes as she held the gun steady with two hands. “What the hell are you doing here, Warren Reed?”
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
This anthology of stories was a real pleasure to read, each one having drama but most of all romance and love set around and at Christmas. There’s nothing like reading a book with so many romances with happy ever afters all set at such a wonderful time of year and with gorgeous cowboy heroes!
Father Christmas by Leigh Greenwood:
This was a wonderful story of two soul mates meeting and falling in love. Joe is the sweetest cowboy ever and he is just what Mary and Sarah need. There were some very funny moments in this story, and some very beautiful ones too. I smiled most of the time that I was reading it.
A ChickaDee Christmas by Rosanne Bittner:
Although this story does involve couples very much in love, it didn’t revolve around those romances. It was very much Tommy’s story and how Jake and his family help him. There were some beautifully emotional scenes, drama, and of course, the festive spirit abounded which I loved. This was reminiscent of the TV shows Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie rolled into one, both of which I loved, so of course, I loved this story too.
The Christmas Stranger by Linda Broday:
This was a very sweet accounting of a wronged man, Hank Destry. He is a drifter after having spent 8 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he has the chance of clearing his name at the same time as finding true love and a home with a woman, Sidalee King, who pretty much fell in love with him at first sight after rescuing him from dying in a snow storm.
A Texas Ranger for Christmas by Margaret Brownley :
This was a truly beautiful story of a woman, Sadie Carnes who very much needed some love and affection and finding it in the strong arms of Cole. The only problem is that he is a Texas Ranger. Sadie’s father and her husband were both killed in the line of duty as Texas Rangers and Sadie can’t see any future with the man she has fallen for. He is the perfect hero for her and I loved watching Cole trying to win her over, and could have cried at what he does to prove his trustworthiness to her.
A Christmas Baby by Anna Schmidt:
Louisa, a white woman, and Rico a Mexican, are in love, and although his parents welcome their relationship, hers disown her over it. This story showed racism at it’s finest, mainly from friends of Louisa’s family. But when it comes to her parents, it’s more than just racism and it was interesting to watch both her and Rico realise just what was really behind her parent’s anger. A wonderful story of love conquering all.
A Christmas Reunion by Amy Sandas:
This was a very quick read that still managed to include outlaws, broken hearts, family loyalties, lies, lust and love. Warren and Honey were in love and a lie separated them with both believing the other had married somebody else. When they meet years later in less than perfect circumstances their love has a chance of blossoming again, and it was a delight to see/read it happen. An absolutely beautiful feel-good story with a fabulous Christmas day.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.