Hey, it's the last of the Texas Rodeo Barons! I can hear you all sigh with relief. The Texan's Christmas is by Tanya Michaels, who comes highly recommended. This is my first Michaels. Here's the completely incorrect cover:
And what is this one about?
HER CHRISTMAS WISH
The last thing rodeo cowboy Daniel Baron needs is a commitment. After a lifetime of feeling like an outsider among his larger-than-life stepfamily at Roughneck Ranch, Daniel is ready to leave the ring—and Texas—behind forever. Except he can't stop thinking about the woman he just met—beautiful, bighearted…and pregnant.
Of course Nicole Bennett is attracted to strong, sweet Daniel—he's pretty much perfect. But he made it clear that he doesn't want a family, the one thing Nicole's dreamed of her whole life. Now, just as that dream is coming true, Nicole could lose the only man she wants to share it with…unless Daniel can find the courage to open his heart.
OK, one glaring thing right off the bat. Nicole isn't nearly as pregnant as this picture implies. In fact, she barely leaves the first trimester in the entire book and she's never visibly pregnant. So that's annoying. I don't really hold this against the book or the author, but geez, really? Are readers so desperate for that kind of baby story that they need this hugely pregnant woman on the cover? Or are these books continuing to be published because readers like me have no choice but to grab them? Which came first the chicken or the egg?
On to the book itself! I liked Nicole a lot. She was in a previous novel, but she's not brought back in such a glaring way that I immediately recognized who she was. She's smart and friendly and compassionate. She plays a pivotal role in one of the overall themes from all six books and she handles it well (not saying more, as it's a spoiler). She's pregnant and single by choice, and is appropriately terrified. The pregnancy does play an important role so I would not have picked this up if it hadn't been the last in the series.
Daniel is pretty standard. Tall, good looking, cowboy. He's the last of the Barons, and like Jacob in the previous book, he's adopted. As you can tell by the summary, he feels that he wasn't really part of the family. And also like the previous book, it's all cleared up in one brief conversation. I felt like this issue was completely out of the blue in both novels and that maybe they would have been fine without this plot point. He's currently between jobs, which is rare in a romance, but he still doesn't come off as a loser.
The romance in this one is well done, even with the pregnancy. They both resist just the right amount and it's a sweet conclusion to the series. If anything, I wouldn't have minded a few more emotional scenes in the book (and series) but for a series of short books these are pretty well done. I wouldn't tell you to go out and collect the series, but with the exception of Cathy McDavid, I'd feel ok recommending any of the six authors to other Harlequin readers. Now if we could just ditch all the pregnancies!
The Texan's Christmas will be out on November 4th.