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?

Titles in the Cold River Ranch series include:  A True Cowboy Christmas – Cold Heart, Warm Cowboy (Spring 2019) –

Title:  A True Cowboy Christmas
Series:  Cold River Ranch #1
Author:  Caitlin Crews
Genre:  Modern Western Romance, Christmas Romance
Published:  October 30, 2018
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Paperback
My Rating:  4.5 stars

A True Cowboy Christmas is far from a light Christmas Romance, so come prepared for a deep, edgy, intense story of two neighbors who enter into a marriage of convenience… that turns out to be anything but convenient.  The special joy and magic of Christmas does play a part in healing for these characters, but this opening novel in the Cold River Ranch series is so much more.

There is world building in this story, there has to be with any story that touches on issues that run as deep as those in these families.  If it’s possible to actually loathe people in books then there were several prime examples of people I could slam the door on and never see again… people might have been better off without them in heir lives, as cruel as that sounds.  Unfortunately, we don’t normally get to choose our parents, and truth be told some people should never be allowed to have children.  Gray’s father, Abby’s mother are each a real nasty piece of work.  Gray’s father was a bitter, angry man who enjoyed pitting his sons against each other right up until the day of his death.  Abby’s mother is as negative and toxic as a person can be, and though she limits her visits home when she shows up there is nothing good coming out of her time with her daughter.  Through the love, example and influence of her grandparents Abby turned out to be a loving woman… a woman who has been in love with her older neighbor for as long as she can remember.  A marriage of convenience?  Yes, she’d take what she could and hope for more over time.

There are very real issues being addressed in A True Cowboy Christmas – ones that need to be faced, dealt with and put away in the past where they belong.  Gray is difficult to relate to at times, and often his “my way or else” attitude makes him hard to like let alone love at other times.  Abby, along with her influence and caring of his daughter, Becca, will bring about changes in a very gruff, cowboy.  Ironically, it’s their clashes over Christmas that may finally bring them together as a united front, true husband and wife… eventually.  I adored Abby.  Her strength of character, her kindness and her love for Gray come through the pages very clearly.  Gray and Abby have a journey toward a happy ending that you should not miss.  emotional, bits of humor, issues to be dealt with, and healing to be done all with the magic of Christmas looking on.  I was drawn into this story, and now I’m invested in this family and seeing that the rest of the brothers get their happy ending down the road as well.

If you love cowboys, Christmas, and touches of reality,  harsh though it may be, then A True Cowboy Christmas is a story that you’ll want to pick up.  I was glued to the pages, and I believe you will be, too.  Now the wait for the next story in the series, Cold Heart, Warm Cowboy due in the Spring of 2019.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

Available in paperback and for the Kindle