Note: This ARC was provided by Sourcebooks Casablanca in exchange for an honest review.
He didn't actually have more chores to do. He just hadn't been able to handle Christmas right now. Not Michaela's angel ornament that she'd bought knowing she wouldn't see another Christmas, not pretty lights and happy songs and Summer's beautiful smile at his amazing little girl and Dad in the other room, alive.
It was all too good, and he was so afraid that if he enjoyed it, somehow it would be ripped from him.
Christmas may be more than two months away, but the Christmas season over here officially begins once the first -ber month--September--rolls in. It isn't all that strange to glimpse Christmas lights and decorations hanging off street lights, malls, buildings, and yes, even private homes, and hearing Christmas songs and carols as early as September and October. Personally, Christmas is my favorite holiday, or maybe it's more fitting to call it a season, since it starts way before December and can last well into January--and well, I consider my birthday week or weekend the end of the holidays here. So, a holiday romance like True-Blue Cowboy Christmas is one I'd happily read and the fact that it's the final novel in a series I've enjoyed--Big Sky Cowboys--and written by an author--Nicole Helm--whose work in the past I've liked made it doubly anticipated. This was my first holiday read for the year and turned out to be one of the best I've ever read. Summer Shaw and Thack Lane's love story was super swoony holiday goodness!
Twenty-three-year-old Summer has been at her family's ranch for more than a year, but while she's gotten closer to her older sister and brother and their respective spouses, there are times she still can't help but feel like an outsider. That's what happens when your father barely acknowledges your presence and when you spent most of your life living with a mother whose rearing skills wouldn't win any accolades. When she spots seven-year-old Kate Lane at her caravan, she can't help but be drawn to the child. Then she meets Kate's father, who is overprotective, grumpy, and bordering on rude... Oh, and hot. Yummy rancher HOT.
For the past seven years, Thackery Lane's life has been about his daughter, the family ranch, and his ailing father. He's been a widower for as long as he's been a father, and at twenty-eight, Thack feels the weight of responsibility on his shoulders more than ever before. Kate is growing up to be an inquisitive girl, one itching to try new things, but new things can lead to getting hurt or worse. Her latest fascination is with a fairy queen, also known as the youngest Shaw daughter. As much as he hates to admit it, there's something magical about Summer Shaw, but can he entrust his daughter's safety to her... and maybe even his heart?
Summer is the only remaining Shaw sibling who has yet to find love and her place in Big Sky country. She's been part of the series from the very beginning and her arrival put a few things in motion, forcing Mel and Caleb, her older siblings, and to a certain degree, her wheelchair-bound father Cal into making both noticeable and subtle changes. She lives up to her name, bringing light to a family that's been stuck in darkness for far too long, wallowing in worry and blame. But I've always wondered if there was more to her move from California to Montana, and in this series ender, fans and readers finally learn all her reasons. If you were expecting this to be another romance like the first two novels, then you're in for a surprise because this one has mystery and suspense thrown into the mix, enough to keep you on your toes.
This was such a beautiful story about learning to take risks when it comes to the unknown, whether that be falling in love or meeting family for the first time. It's about figuring out your place in the world you're in and how, more often than not, you need to acknowledge your own importance and not just wait for everyone else to do so. Summer's been trying to adjust to life in Montana for a year and a half while Thack's been trying to adjust to life as a single father for seven years. Summer tries too hard to be a part of the family that already welcomed her--even if it wasn't the typical arms-wide-open welcome and even if it took some time--and Thack doesn't try hard enough to move past the insular life he's been living, taking every task on his own and refusing to let anyone else in. They evolved as individuals and together, they were just so much more than I could have hoped for. The ending? Tears! The Big Sky Cowboys series kept getting better with each new book, and ends well with the five-plus-starred True Blue Cowboy Christmas. ♥
Read my reviews for the Big Sky Cowboys series:
Rebel Cowboy (book one) - 4.5 stars - My Review
Outlaw Cowboy (book two) - five stars - My Review
True-Blue Cowboy Christmas (book three) - five-plus stars - My Review (posted above)
Date Read: 16 October 2016
Learn more about Nicole Helm.