THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO (Heart of Texas #1)

THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO        DONNA GRANT

’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays―even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.

Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wit’s end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances, and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby―and the inescapable longing in his heart―off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?

MY REVIEW:
     This was an amazingly touching story of an ex-Navy SEAL.  His last tour had taken its toll on him.  So, instead of returning home to Clearview, Texas to help run his families ranch he resigns and hires himself out to protect the wildlife in South Africa.
     Clayton East comes from a long line of ranchers.  From one of the largest cattle ranches in the state.  But it was always meant for his brother to run it.
     But when he gets a desperate call from his mother calling him to come home and it was coming from his boss that is not good.  He knew it had to be bad then.  She tells him the ranch is in a position to be lost for good not to mention someone keeps stealing the cattle but now their prize bull has been stolen now too.
     By the time he’s arrived they have arrested someone and he is prepared to have charged to the full extent of the law.  That is until he figures out that he is a young man of sixteen, Brice Harper.  Clayton is spitting mad and means to press all the charges he can until he meets his guardian, Abby Harper, his older sister, twenty-six, who has been caring for him and their younger brother, Caleb, fourteen, for the last nine years.
     He breaks down for her, in dollar and cents, just how much the cattle, bull, and unborn calves are worth if her brother won’t confess and tell them where the cattle are or at the least who is running the operation.  She turns green with the number but doesn’t back down.  She tells him with a hard edge but fully meaning it that she will find a way to pay it all back to him and his family.  Then she stands and asks to see her brother.
     She is mutual friends with the sheriff Danny Oldman, she has him take her to her brother because she was missing work which she can’t because missing just one hour mean whether the lights are on or food on the table.  After thinking a while Danny was gone, Clayton knew the best way to find his stock was the kid.  So, he told Danny he wanted the kid to see the kid.
     When he does he won’t tell so he says, “I’ll give you a second chance.  You will come to the ranch every day after school to do your homework, you will work until dinner, then I’ll take you home.  On the weekends you are at the ranch at six a.m. and there until dinner.  You don’t show for one time unless to be sick or dying I will have Danny put you back in jail.  Do you understand?” 
     Brice agrees.  He takes him home when he asked why he did he wasn’t too surprised by the answer.  Just by the way his sister held herself and Brice jumped at the chance to work it off.  So, his sister wouldn’t have to pay.  He said, “Because for once he didn’t want his sis to struggle and he wanted her to think of just herself and get something nice for just her.  But like she always to them if it’s too easy it might not always be right.”
     After he dropped Brice on his way home he sees Abby with her head under the hood of her car trying to work on it.  He stops to help.  He reacts to her like no other woman ever.  She is gorgeous.  He knows he rubbed her to wrong way but not being able to bend when it came to her brother when they met earlier.  When he looks up she hates the way her body reacts to him.  But he is walking sex on legs.
     This is a book of a couple who start off on the opposite sides of the game.  Things shift when one shows their tin man heart.  Out of fear from their past they want, no need to help one another because they know it’s right.  Yet, they have allowed their past for so long guide them.
     They banter and joke but when she meets his mom when picking up her brother all their lives change.  Her wisdom and a mother’s love changes them, softens them, and makes them braver.
     The love scenes in this story are so sensually orchestrated they are giving, loving, and powerfully charged with need you feel their thirst for one another.  I give this: 5++++ stars.  Provided by netgalley.com.

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