Two years ago, Dillen Roach fell for wealthy debutante Alice Truett. Now she's at his door with his orphaned nephews in tow! Could Alice be the perfect Christmas gift for this solitary rancher?
Dillen had known Alice back in Omaha and fell in love with her before he knew she came from a wealthy family. Feeling that he wasn't good enough for her, he left her behind to try to make his fortune out west. Two years later he still hasn't achieved his dream, but finds out that Alice will be coming to Colorado to bring him his orphaned nephews. Because of a mix-up with telegrams he is unable to delay her.
Alice has never forgotten Dillen. When his sister, who was also her friend, dies Alice makes it her mission to take the orphaned boys to Dillen. She hopes that seeing him again will rekindle their romance. She doesn't expect him to be so unhappy to see her and determined to find other options for the boys. She convinces him to let her stay and help for awhile and tries to show him that she is able to handle the life.
Dillen has a couple issues working against him. The first is that his pride won't let him pursue his feelings for Alice. Her money has him convinced that he will never be good enough for her. Second is his fear that he isn't capable of properly raising the boys. He is only an employee, with no home of his own. He appreciates Alice's willingness to help, but doesn't think she'd want to stay for long.
I loved Alice's determination to show Dillen what she can do. She has her own fears about what she can do but works to overcome them. I love the way that she showed him that he is able to care for the boys. She also tried to show him that money doesn't matter to her, and she loved that he had cared for her before he knew about the money.
Dillen very nearly let his pride tear them apart again, but saw the truth in time. I loved the way that he went after Alice. It was quite dramatic and fun to read. I also liked seeing him admit his vulnerability to Alice as well as his love.
DANCE WITH A COWBOY by Kathryn Albright
Kathleen Sheridan is determined to leave the tragedy of her past behind her -- including brooding cowboy Garrett. But with Christmas magic in the air, can she resist the warmth of his touch?
Very good story. Kathleen had left Clear Springs five years earlier, after the death of her husband. She hadn't felt truly part of his family and thought things would be easier back in San Diego with her own family. It didn't turn out that way, as her family didn't like the Sheridans. They never forgave her for marrying one, and made their disapproval of her and her daughter clear. So she moved back to Clear Springs, determined to live her life on her own terms.
She hadn't been back long when she ran into Garrett, her late husband's brother. She had had a huge crush on Garrett when she was a girl, but he never gave any indication that he felt the same way. She later fell for Josh when he pursued her so avidly. Unfortunately the marriage hadn't been a happy one. Now that she's back, Garrett has made it clear that the Sheridans want to be part of her and Lily's lives and she's not sure she wants that.
Garrett is a very quiet man, one who has never been good with words. He first noticed Kathleen when she was about fourteen, but knew she was too young for his attentions. By the time he felt she was old enough his brother had already staked his claim. All he could do was watch and fume as he saw the way that Josh treated her. The night before Josh's death, they had had words and Garrett has felt guilty ever since. With Kathleen's return he is determined to watch out for her. He doesn't expect to find that his love for her is as strong as ever.
I loved the way that Garrett showed his love for Kathleen. He helped out with repairs at her aunt's home, he tried to make things easier for Kathleen. He tried to show her that the Sheridans considered her part of their family. I especially loved the way he stood up to her brother-in-law. He really wanted to speak of his feelings, but his guilt wouldn't let him. I was really rooting for him to overcome those feelings.
Kathleen started out trying to keep Garrett at a distance, but his attentions soon started to warm her up to him. She remembered the way she used to feel about him and found those feelings growing stronger. She was afraid that he was only being nice because of his guilty feelings once he confessed what had happened. She had a lot to think about before she could trust both his feelings and her own.
CHRISTMAS IN SMOKE RIVER by Lynna Banning
Gale McBurney is an utter mystery to rich "city girl" Lilah Cornwell. But to make Smoke River her home by Christmas, she'll have to let this rugged cattleman take the reins….
Lilah is a city girl from Philadelphia with aspirations to become a writer. Her aunt left her a house in Oregon and a great deal of money, so she moves there to start her career. When she arrives, she discovers that the house has been empty for years and is not in the best of conditions. She won't let that stop her and immediately begins her renovations, including planting flowers along the front of the yard.
Gale is the foreman of a local cattle ranch. While driving cattle to the train depot in town, several of them tore through Lilah's yard, destroying her fence and garden. Gale feels badly and stops by the house to tell the owner he will make the repairs. He is bowled over by Lilah's beauty and her fiery nature. He returns the next day to make the repairs and a friendship of sorts begins between them.
Gale is fascinated by Lilah and can't stay away from her. He finds himself going to visit her after his work is done, just to spend time with her. He doesn't understand what is happening to him, and at times the strength of his emotions overwhelms him. I loved seeing some of the things he did for her. I especially loved his treatment of the fence and garden and the impression it made on Lilah. Gale also shows himself to be a very sensitive man which made him even more appealing. He has an interesting hobby that ends up having a huge impact on their chances of a future together.
I loved Lilah's independence and sense of adventure. She is very shy and feels awkward around people, but she hasn't let it stop her from pursuing her dreams. She's furious with Gale at first over the damages done to her yard, but she's also intrigued by him. His frequent visits have her thinking about him constantly. I loved seeing how his influence had her trying new things and making new friends. I liked the mental conversations she had with her aunt when she was undecided on what she would do. There was an interesting twist to her aunt's past that had a big effect on Lilah's life.
It ached to see how much the two of them came to love each other but couldn't see a way to make a life together. Gale couldn't see a way that a ranch foreman could aspire to marry a wealthy woman. I loved seeing the ranch owner's wife, Alice, do everything she could to throw them together. I loved the way she finally made it happen.
The only thing that was a bit frustrating about the book was the frequent changes of point of view, with each change being a new chapter. It made the story feel a bit choppy.