Snowflakes and Stetsons by Jillian Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a nice combination, Christmas theme and western historical stories. I would consider myself fans of all three writers in this volume, but my favorite story was by Carol Finch, one of the three I've read the least books by. I admit that I enjoyed the contrast between the proper wealthy woman from back East and the mixed-heritage rough and tumble ex-Texas Ranger. I also liked the fact that they were able to see past apparently superficial divides between them to the good-hearted people beneath disparate exteriors. I felt the ending was a bit too abrupt, but I would give this one four stars for its feel good vibe and readability, and also having a great lead pair. Also brownie points for the hero's awesome dog named Dog!
The Jillian Hart story was good and I enjoyed it. It took me a while to get into it, and when I did, what the heroine does nearly killed the book for me. I really dislike when you have a character who supposedly falls in love with someone and then completely disses them because of what someone has said or what their bad reputation indicated. It didn't read true to me. I hurt for the hero in that case, and I found him a lot more sympathetic than the heroine. Hart writes very good heroes. Generally I like her heroines, but I didn't understand the heroine's reactions and motivations, so that spoiled the story for me with this one. I can only give it story three stars.
Cheryl St. John writes a compelling and heartwarming story for this volume. The main couple are stranded together in the heroine's father's well-equipped Pullman during a snow storm, along with two orphaned kids. To complicate matters, armed bandits are after a payload that the US Marshal hero is trying to protect. For a short story, this has a nice dose of western action that make this reader happy. Readers who enjoy survival stories will appreciate this. I also liked the 'don't judge a book by the cover' theme of this novel. The heroine comes from a rich family and she seems like she might be spoiled and unlikable, but she shows a generous, some resourcefulness that definitely helps in their situation, a good heart and a strong spirit from the beginning. I liked seeing her bond with the children, and I liked the way their romance unfolded. This one was also four stars, although I liked the Carol Finch story more.
Overall, a good Christmas short story historical romance collection with good western stories and good writing. It was actually a quick read once I was able to focus my attention on the stories.
I did the math and this comes out to be about a 3.8/5.0 star rating but it's Christmas, so I will round it up to four stars.
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