Christmas in Winter Valleyby Jodi Thomas (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Series: Ransom Canyon #8
Published by HQN Books on September 24, 2019
Genres: Adult, Christmas, Contemporary, Holiday, Romance, Western
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Ransom Canyon welcomes you back for a Christmas that has everything you’re looking for: romance, family and a whole lot of Texas.
Cooper Holloway would take nature over people any day—especially visiting relatives. That’s why he’s headed for a rustic cabin in remote Winter Valley, where he’ll care for a herd of wild mustangs. But Cooper’s plans are quickly thwarted by the arrival of two unexpected guests: one, a stranger in desperate need of his help, and the other, a very attractive young veterinarian.
Elliott is busy trying to keep Maverick Ranch running smoothly with Cooper gone, which is no easy task with family visiting. And when a long-lost love suddenly reappears in his life, Elliott knows he’ll have more than just books to balance this season.
With a big, chaotic family Christmas around the corner and love blooming in surprising ways, the Holloway men will have to make big choices about the future—just in time for the holidays.
I always love Harlequin’s Christmas tours, and I’m excited to bring you an excerpt and review of the fabulous Jodi Thomas’ Christmas in Winter Valley. There’s nothing better than snow, cowboys, and the holidays!
Excerpt, CHRISTMAS IN WINTER VALLEY by Jodi Thomas
She walked him to the door. “Your eyes are clear tonight.”
He didn’t act like he didn’t know what she meant. “Yeah, I told Creed I wouldn’t drink while I’m on the ranch. Plan to dry out for a while.”
“You’re always welcome in my kitchen for coffee, but I don’t want to see you if you’re not sober, Tye. You understand that. I’ve got a few scars from trying to reason with a drunk, and I don’t plan to repeat any part of that history.”
“I understand. You’re a good woman, Dani.” He leaned down and kissed her cheek. “The man who walked out on you was a fool, and any man, drunk or sober, who’d hit a woman isn’t worth knowing.”
Something inside Dani cracked open. A part of her had always blamed herself that the man she’d married hadn’t loved her enough not to hit her. She’d been nineteen when she’d left home and had hidden the marks her husband left when she’d come back. He’d told her every problem was her fault.
She fought back tears, remembering how he’d yelled at her. He’d called her his bad-luck charm and laughed when she’d cried.
Tye put a knuckle beneath her chin and tipped up her head so she could see his eyes. “It wasn’t your fault,” he persisted.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed against the warmth of this man. For a while they just stood there, so close she could feel his breath. Then she kissed him.
For a moment, Tye didn’t react. When he did, the kiss turned real, and wasn’t just a friendly exchange. He held her tight and lifted her off the ground. This wasn’t a flirtation but a need. Two lonely people wanting to feel something besides hollowness.
When he finally lowered her to the floor, he just smiled.
“I don’t want to talk,” she whispered. “I don’t want to figure out what just happened. All I have to say is…don’t leave tonight.”
He slid his hand gently down her arm and took her hand. Then, knowing just what she wanted, she led him to her room behind the kitchen.
In her mind she wondered what he was thinking. Wondered if this was right. Wondered if she’d be sorry at dawn.
But tonight, a lifetime of loneliness won out over what was proper.
They didn’t say a word. They didn’t bother to turn on a light.
She sat on the bed. He knelt and tugged off her boots, then kicked off his own. Then they were lying side by side atop a quilt her grandmother had made fifty years ago. He lifted his arm and she rolled close. They simply held on to each other for a long while.
I’ve enjoyed every Jodi Thomas novel that I’ve read, and her novels are full of romance, picturesque Texas settings, slow burning romances, and brooding cowboys whose sense of duty doesn’t falter. In Christmas in Winter Valley, we get to spend the fast approaching holidays with the Holloway brothers on their horse ranch. Things are never dull and boring on this 100-plus year old family ranch, and with married brother Griffin away with his wife caring for her sick father in Colorado, the ranch is left in the hands of the two younger siblings–Cooper and Elliott. But Sunlan’s three college-aged cousins are headed for a bit of rest and relaxation in Texas over break, and the boys are in charge of hosting them in the meantime. Cooper literally heads for the hills to tend to a heard of wild horses before winter hits as a way to escape the girls, leaving poor, dependable Elliott to take care of everything by himself.
Cooper is known as the wild, untamed youngest son of the family, and he certainly hasn’t been tied down by a wife or family of his own. He expected to herd the wild horses, get some much needed solitude in the cabin that his grandfather built, then return just in time for Christmas. He didn’t expect to find a runaway orphaned boy desperate for a family and a place to belong, or to have a medical emergency and be rescued by the beautiful new veterinarian who is filling in for her retiring grandfather.
Elliott has to get the ranch’s books done for the year and ready for tax time, but he’s having a hard time keeping up with running the ranch and wading through all of that paperwork. Griffin hires a big city accountant to help get everything in order, and this expert is the last person Elliott would ever expect to see again. Ten years of hurt, resentment, and unrequited love come rushing back, and Elliott has no idea how he’ll get through the next few weeks.
Dani has been the ranch’s cook for several months now, but she’s proven more invaluable than just that. She also has a bit of baggage in the form of twin 20-year-old boys who can ranch with the best of them but can’t seem to detach themselves from their mama. Dani is lonely and when a handsome new ranch hand is hired, she starts to hope for happiness and a life of her own. Can she find something lasting with the former rodeo star Tye Franklin, or is he trouble with a capital T?
Three characters find happiness in different ways, and I really loved how the author tackled Dani and Tye’s more mature relationship. It was refreshing to read about older people having an actual life. A group of people become like family–whether they’re related or not–and band together when times get tough despite their differences. Cooper’s story line was my favorite. He was such a spitfire, and Cooper definitely deserved equally stubborn and smart companions in Tatem and Hayley.
I give Christmas in Winter Valley a 4.5 out of 5. While this was book eight in the series, there wasn’t much of an issue getting to know each of the characters and a bit of their past. Jodi Thomas brought you up to speed quite nicely. Her writing flows well, even when moving from character to character when changing points of view each chapter. While there were a lot of players in Christmas in Winter Valley, everyone was very different in the way they spoke and acted so it was easy to keep everyone straight. If you’re looking for Christmas to be a big part of the book, it was more of a minor player here with winter being the bigger part. I enjoyed getting to know the two younger Holloway men and the people around them, and I definitely recommend this entertaining book.
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About Jodi Thomas
With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 50 novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.
In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.
Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas also served as Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home, and “checking up” on their grown sons and four grandchildren.
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Harlequin’s Winter 2019 Christmas Tour Dates and Stops