New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant returns to Texas, where a small-town legend just might find the greatest gift of all in The Christmas Cowboy Hero...
’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidayseven 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 wits’ 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 Abbyand the inescapable longing in his heartoff 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?
“Off-the-charts chemistry and a breath-stealing plot.” Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Protector
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Clearview, Texas Three weeks before Christmas
This shit couldn't be happening. Abby Harper's heart thumped against her ribs as she turned into the parking lot of the sheriff's department. She parked and opened her car door, only to have her keys drop from her shaking hands. It took her three tries to pick them up because she couldn't get her fingers to listen to what her brain was telling them.
Along with the fact that her brother had been arrested, her mind couldn't stop thinking about the money she was losing for leaving her job early to find out what happened. Which meant that there was a real possibility that she would have to choose between paying for electricity or groceries next week.
She hunkered into her coat, bracing against a blast of cold air as she hurried to the door of the building. As soon as she was inside, the heat engulfed her.
Coming through the speakers overhead was the old Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings song Momma, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.
The irony wasn't lost on her. The problem was, she'd done everything she could. But Clearview was in cattle country. That meant there were cowboys everywhere — as well as rodeos that happened too frequently to even count.
Abby licked her lips and walked up to the counter and the glass window. A man in a uniform slid back the pane and raised his blond brows in question. His look told her he didn't care what had brought her there or what sad story she might have.
"Hi," she said, her voice squeaking. Abby cleared her throat and tried again. "Hi. I'm here about Brice Harper."
"You don't look old enough to be his mother," the man stated as he reached for a file.
After all these years, Abby should've been used to such a response. But she didn't think a person ever got used to such things.
She forced a half smile. "I'm his sister, but also his legal guardian."
"And your parents?"
If it had been anyone but a sheriff's deputy, Abby would've told them it was none of their business.
"Dad died years ago, and our mother ran off. But not before she gave me legal guardianship of my brothers."
The man's dark eyes widened. "You have another brother?"
As if she needed another reminder that she was failing at raising her siblings.
"Through that door," the deputy said as he pointed to his left.
A loud beep sounded, and Abby dashed to open the door. She walked through it to find another police officer waiting for her. Despite Brice's reckless nature and the rowdy crowd he hung with, this was her first time at a police station.
And, quite frankly, she prayed it was her last.
Nothing could prepare anyone for what awaited them once they entered. The plain white walls, thick doors, locks, and cameras everywhere made her feel as if the building were closing in on her. And that didn't even take into account all the deputies watching her as she walked past.
She wasn't sure if being taken back to see Brice was a good thing or not. Wasn't there supposed to be something about bail? Not that she could pay it.
Her thoughts came to a halt when the deputy stopped by a door and opened it as he stepped aside. Abby glanced inside the room before she looked at him. He jerked his chin toward the door.
She hesitantly stepped to the entrance. Her gaze landed on a familiar figure, and relief swamped her. "Danny."
"Hi, Abby," he said as he rose from his seat at the table in the middle of the room.
His kind, hazel eyes crinkled at the corners with his smile. He walked to her then and guided her to the table. All her apprehension vanished. Not even the fact that he also wore a sheriff's deputy uniform bothered her. Because she'd known Danny Oldman since they were in grade school.
He'd run with the popular crowd at school because he'd been one of the stars of the football team, but Danny never forgot that he'd grown up in the wrong part of town — next door to her.
"I'm so glad you're here," she said.
His smile slipped a little. "What Brice did is serious, Abby."
She pulled out the chair, the metal scraping on the floor like a screech, and sat. "No one has told me anything. Brice refused to speak of it. He just told me to come."
"Perhaps you should be more firm with him."
The deep voice sent a shiver through her. She hadn't realized anyone else was in the room. Abby looked over her shoulder to see a tall, lean man push away from the corner and walk toward her.
His black Stetson was pulled low over his face, but she got a glimpse of a clean-shaven jaw, square chin, and wide, thin lips. It wasn't until he stopped across the table from her and flattened his hands on the surface that she remembered to breathe.
"Abby," Danny said. "This is Clayton East. Clayton, Abby Harper."
It was a good thing she was already sitting because Abby was sure her legs wouldn't have held her. Everyone knew the Easts. Their ranch was the largest in the county. The family was known to be generous and welcoming, but that wasn't the vibe she got from Clayton at the moment.
Then it hit her. Whatever Brice had done involved the East Ranch. Of all the people for her brother to piss off, it had to be them. There was no way she could compete with their wealth or influence. In other words, her family was screwed ten ways from Sunday.
Clayton lifted his head, pushing his hat back with a finger. She glimpsed strands of blond hair beneath the hat. Her gaze clashed with pale green eyes that impaled her with a steely look. No matter what she did, she couldn't look away. She'd never seen so much bottled anger or anguish in someone's stare before.
It stunned her. And she suspected it had nothing to do with her brother or the ranch but something else entirely. She wondered what it could be.
"No," she said.
What should've been internal dialogue came out. Clayton's blond brows snapped together in confusion. She glanced at Danny, hoping that her outburst would be ignored. It wasn't as if Clayton needed to know that her history with men was ... well, it was best left forgotten.
When she looked back at Clayton, she was arrested by his rugged features. He wasn't just handsome. He was gorgeous. Skin tanned a deep brown from the sun only highlighted his eyes more. His angular features shouldn't be appealing, but they were oh, so attractive.
She decided to look away from his face to gather herself but realized that was a mistake when her gaze dropped to the denim shirt that hugged his wide, thick shoulders. The sleeves were rolled up to his forearms, showcasing the edge of a tattoo that she almost asked to see.
Abby leaned back in her chair, which allowed her to get a better glimpse of Clayton East's lower half. Tan-colored denim hung low on his trim hips and encased his long legs.
He was every inch the cowboy, and yet the vibe he gave off said he wasn't entirely comfortable in such attire. Which couldn't be right. He'd been raised on the ranch. If anyone could wear such clothes with authority, it was Clayton East.
Danny cleared his throat loudly. Her gaze darted to him, and she saw his pointed look. Wanting to kick herself, Abby drew in a deep breath. Just as she was about to start talking, Clayton spoke.
"Cattle rustling is a serious offense."
Abby's purse dropped from her hand to the floor. She couldn't have heard right. "Cattle rustling?"
"We picked up Brice trying to load cattle with the East brand on them into a trailer," Danny said. "Those with him ran off."
She was going to be sick. Abby glanced around for a garbage can. This couldn't be happening. Brice was a little reckless, but weren't most sixteen- year-olds?
Though she knew that for the lie it was. She'd known from the moment their mother walked out on them that it would be a miracle if Brice graduated high school. He acted out, which was his way of dealing with things.
"I ... I...." She shook her head.
What did one say in response to such a statement? Sorry? I don't know what's wrong with him?
Danny propped himself on the edge of the table and looked down at her, his hazel eyes filled with concern. "You should've come to me if Brice was out of control."
"He hasn't been, though," she argued. And that wasn't a lie. "Brice's grades have improved, and he's really straightened up."
Danny blew out a long breath. "Is there anyone new he's been hanging around with?"
"No," she assured him. "Not that I've seen."
After the last incident when Brice was about to enter a house that his friends had broken into, he'd sworn he wouldn't get into any more trouble. Abby truly believed that the brush with the law had set him straight.
Her heart sank as she realized that her brother could very well go to jail. She knew she was a poor substitute for their mother, but she'd done the best she could.
"What happens now?" she asked, racking her brain to come up with memories of past shows she'd seen to indicate what would happen next. "Is there a bail hearing or something?"
"That depends on Clayton."
Just what she needed.
But Abby was willing to do anything for her brothers. She sat up straight and looked Clayton in the eye. "My brother is young and stupid. I'm not making excuses for him, but he's had a hard time since our mother left. I'm doing everything I can to —"
"You're raising him?"
She halted at his interruption before nodding. "Both Brice and Caleb."
He stared at her for a long, silent minute.
Abby wasn't too proud to beg. And she'd even get on her knees if that was what it took. "Please don't press charges. I'll pay back whatever it is you've lost with the theft."
"Abby," Danny said in a harsh whisper.
"Is that so?" Clayton asked as he crossed his arms over his chest. "You're really going to repay my family?"
Abby looked between Clayton and Danny before returning her gaze to Clayton and nodding. Her throat clogged because she knew the amount would be enormous, but if it meant her brother wouldn't go to jail, she'd gladly pay it.
"There were a hundred cows stolen. Thirty of them were recovered when your brother was arrested, which leaves seventy unaccounted for. Let's round it to $2000 each. That's $140,000. Not to mention that each of them is about to calf. Each calf will go for a minimum of $500 each. That's an additional $35,000."
Oh, God. She would be paying for the rest of her life. And she was fairly certain Clayton wanted the payment now. How in the world was she ever going to come up with that kind of money?
But Clayton East wasn't finished. He had yet to deliver the killing blow.
"Then there's Cochise, one of our prized bulls. He's worth $100,000."
She put a hand over her mouth as her stomach rebelled. She really was going to be sick, and at the moment, the idea of vomiting on Clayton East sounded tempting.
There was no way she could come up with $275, much less $275,000. Worse, Clayton knew it. It was written all over his face.
Danny rose to his feet and stood at the end of the table. "Abby, you need to get Brice to tell you where the rest of the cattle are."
The words barely penetrated her mind. She stared at the metal table, her mind blank. Usually, she was able to think up some way to get her brothers out of whatever mess they'd gotten into — and there had been some real doozies.
She'd toiled through various jobs until she landed a position at the CPA company where she was currently employed. Despite the fact that she worked sixty hours a week, they wouldn't put her on salary because that would mean they'd have to give her health insurance.
Even with those hours and every cent she scraped together, it still didn't cover their monthly bills. But the one thing she'd promised her brothers was that she would take care of them.
And she had.
Up until today.
She scooped up her purse and stood before facing Danny. "I'd like to see my brother now."
It took everything within her to walk out of the room without giving the high and mighty Clayton East a piece of her mind.
Stunning. It was the only word that came to Clayton's mind when Abby Harper walked into the room at the sheriff's station.
He was glad he'd been in the corner so he could take his time looking her over. She was of medium height, but there was nothing ordinary about her. Her big blue eyes seemed to suck his very soul away. Her lips were supple and generous with a pale pink shade of lip gloss that gave them shine. He had a ridiculous urge to wipe away the color — not with his fingers, but with his mouth.
Her brunette hair was pulled back in a ponytail to fall in a queue of deep brown with the occasional caramel lock in the mix. It had him wondering just how long her hair was. And how the length might feel if he ran his fingers through it.
The fawn-colored coat she wore hung past her hips. It was frayed at the hem in several places, and there were buttons missing at the cuffs and one at her waist, which kept it hanging open. That allowed him to glimpse the cotton candy pink sweater beneath.
His need to see more of her was what brought him from his position in the corner of the room to stand opposite her at the table. And when he saw the ample breasts that not even her sweater could hide, his cock went hard. Her long, black pencil skirt and tall boots hid her legs, but the material of the skirt molded to her amazing curves like a second skin.
He hadn't reacted like this toward a woman since ... well, since high school. Clayton hadn't cared to listen to the things Danny tried to explain to him about the Harpers. Until she walked in. Then, he couldn't take his eyes off her. And he wanted to know every detail.
Abby had a delightful mix of strength and vulnerability that made him instantly want to protect her.
Not that he would carry through with that thought. He had his hands full at the ranch trying to find the CPA who had stolen their money, as well as the missing cattle.
Clayton had intended to press charges against Brice. Yet, the longer he stared at Abby, the less that mattered. Especially when she declared that she would pay back everything.
Her eyes had gone wide, and her already pale complexion had whitened further when he'd told her the final price. She hadn't cried or begged. Her shoulders had slumped, but she'd lifted her chin, the steel in her spine keeping her focused on her family.
Clayton had watched her demand to see her brother before walking out of the room. But he didn't move. He couldn't. He was too mixed up about the entire meeting.
"I tried to warn you," Danny said when he returned a few minutes later. "Abby is a good person who is doing her best with Brice."
Clayton dropped his arms and hooked a thumb in his belt loop. "The boy needs a male in his life."
"Is she dating anyone?" But why did the thought of that anger him so?
Danny flattened his lips as he shook his head slowly. "I've several friends who asked her out. Hell, I was even interested, but ever since their mom left when Abby was just eighteen, she's put her entire focus on her brothers."
"Why didn't you ask her out?" Clayton didn't know why his mind stuck on the fact that Danny was interested in her.
"Because she needs a friend," Danny replied. "And if I ask her out, she'll no longer consider me a friend."
She'd think of him as someone who wanted in her pants. As pretty as Abby was, Clayton thought for sure she'd have someone steady or even be married. But there hadn't been a ring on her finger. In fact, the only jewelry she wore was a pair of gold star studs in her ears.
Clayton didn't want to admire Abby Harper. And he certainly didn't want to like her, but he found himself doing both against his better judgment.
"Are you going to press charges?" Danny asked.
Clayton walked to the door and looked in the direction Abby had disappeared. There was no sign of her, but it wasn't difficult to imagine how the reunion with her brother was going. He rubbed his jaw and listened as Danny continued to sing her praises. It was during Danny's speech about how Abby always carried through with her promises that he had an idea.
"She won't have the money to bail Brice out, will she?" "No," Danny said.
With his decision made, Clayton turned his head to Danny. "I want to talk to Brice."
"What do you plan?"
"I'm going to make him work off his debt at the ranch. If he won't tell me who the other rustlers are, perhaps I can convince him to take me to the cattle before they're sold or slaughtered."
Danny rocked back on his heels. "That's a good idea. Besides, everyone around here knows the East brand. No one in their right mind would buy any of your cattle without your family being there, but especially not now that the word has spread about the theft."
"That's what I'm hoping."
Excerpted from "The Christmas Cowboy Hero"
Copyright © 2017 Donna Grant.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What an awesome read! This was just a delightful story filled with honest to goodness people and love. In this story we find Clayton an ex-SEAL, returning home to take care of some problems that had occurred at his family's ranch. Abby is in charge of her 2 younger brothers, after her mother split leaving her as the sole guardian to her brothers, which she has done the best by, raising them on her own. One of her brothers gets involved with stealing the cattle from the East Ranch and Clayton decides not to press charges and has him work off the debt to the ranch. Abby and Clayton meet and there is an undeniable attraction. I loved the heartfelt commitment that Clayton made to Brice, the deep abiding love that grew for Abby and Caleb and their parents goodness throughout the whole story. I honestly cannot even think of one thing that was even remotely bad. It was that great of a story from beginning to end. Loved It! 5 stars!!!
Ex-Navy Seal Clayton East had to come home to his family’s ranch after his father’s health declines. Abby Harper has been taking care of her younger brothers since her mother left them. When her brother’s rebellion goes too far, she’s grateful that Clayton believes in second chances. Maybe this bad event is exactly what her family needed. This was a very sweet book. I loved both of the main characters. They are exactly what the other needs. I loved how he and his parents were able to embrace Abby and her brothers. I highly recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
The festive debut of Donna Grant’s new contemporary adult western Heart of Texas series! A warrior and a cowboy…” The Christmas Cowboy Hero marks the debut of Donna Grant’s new contemporary adult western Heart of Texas series. Donna has posted that it is also her very first Christmas story. I’m a huge fan of Donna’s Dark Dragon Kings series – so it was a given that I’d pick up this new series from her. I mean… cowboys and Christmas – what’s not to love? This first installment is the story of ex-Navy SEAL and prodigal son Clayton East and accounting clerk Abby Harper. Their story is told from several third person perspectives – including those of Clayton and Abby. Abby has had her hands full raising her two younger brothers and keeping a roof over their heads after their mother deserted them. Now one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle from The East Ranch... Clayton has reluctantly come home to take over his family’s ranch after his father suffers a stroke. He quickly discovers that The East Ranch is in dire financial straits with both funds and cattle missing. A juvenile has been apprehended in connection with their rustled cattle. But, while coming face-to-face with the boy, Clayton didn’t expect to meet a woman who would take his breath away. I connected from the get-go with our hero and heroine. They were each likable and realistically-drawn. I do admit to being a bit taken back at first by the insta-love between them, but, as the story progressed and I became engrossed in the familial relationships and the suspense build-up related to the ranch’s missing moneys and the cattle theft, I mostly forgot about their immediate attraction. By the last half of this book, I didn’t want to put it down. Clayton demonstrated what a hot catch he was by the way he took Abby’s brothers under his wings. I liked how his Navy SEAL training was incorporated as the story’s danger element increased. Supporting characters were well-written, too, including Abby’s adolescent brothers and Clayton’s mom. Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from The Christmas Cowboy Hero: “You’re staring,” she said as she cut her eyes to him. Clayton lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I like what I see.” --- “Tell me he’s got a cute ass in Wranglers,” Gloria pleaded. “I’ve got a weakness for cowboys.” Abby grinned. “It’s not cute. His ass is magnificent.” --- “Let’s go.” “It’s not that easy.” He smoothed back her dark hair and looked into her beautiful, blue eyes. “It is when you have someone to catch you.” Donna’s books are always well-written with plenty of sexy times and this book is no exception. It is an addictive story of love, loss, betrayals, family and romance. Readers can look forward to an extremely satisfying HEA ending with a touch of Christmas tidings. I look forward to reading where Donna will take this series next! My full review is published at Reading Between the Wines Book Club. Please check it out there!
Donna Grant gives us an amazing story that exemplifies the true meaning of Christmas. This is a story of loss and of struggle. It’s a story of the strength and power of forgiveness and of promise. It’s also a story of sharing and giving and love and family and it was absolutely beautiful! This is a long way from the Highlands of Scotland and Ms. Grant’s Dark books, but I find I’m really enjoying her foray into the contemporary genre with her Sons of Texas series and this book, the first in a new series called Heart of Texas! While Ms. Grant has changed locations, she hasn’t changed the way she puts together an exciting and engaging story and we definitely don’t have a shortage of strong, stubborn heroes! Abby is an absolute hero in this book as well. Her mother up and left her to care for her two younger brothers when Abby was barely 18 years old. It’s been a struggle, but she’s been able to handle things—barely—so far. Well, until her oldest brother gets in trouble for stealing. Clayton is a wonderful hero dealing with his own personal demons but he’s obligated to help the family ranch after a series of very unfortunate events. He crosses paths with Abby and her brothers and his well-made plans of one day leaving Texas fly out the window. This is so much more than just a love story. It’s well-written and crafted beautifully. There’s so much depth and emotion and character growth. And I really enjoyed reading it! If you need a Christmas romance, look no further! THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO is exactly what you need! ***I voluntarily read a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own***
Enjoyed reading this heart warming story!
This should totally be a Hallmark movie! So sweet and entertaining with just the right amount of drama and a touch of suspense. And hello swoony cowboy!!! Awesome read! I went into this wanting a feel good, easy read, and that's exactly what I got. It was fun and flirty and there was a nice amount of heat too. Abby and Clayton were great characters. I thought they had good development coming together and I enjoyed learning their backstories. They're both wonderful, caring people and I love how they overcome their personal obstacles. I felt for them and there were lots of emotional moments as things were learned. I really enjoyed them getting to know one another as their feelings grew. These two definitely pulled at my heart strings. I also really enjoyed the mystery and suspense element that was in play. It kept the story moving along nicely and I was excited to see where it all would go. It added a nice amount of action and drama that kept things exciting. I thought there was a fantastic cast of characters. Abby's brothers were great and I loved Clayton's parents. His mom was so wonderful. They all helped make it a full story. I thought the writing was great and enjoyed the descriptions. I really enjoyed the storyline and felt there was lots of depth. There was a really good pace and great details. I enjoyed the different POVs as well. I had so much fun reading this and it definitely left me smiling and happy. From beginning to end I enjoyed Clayton and Abby, they're just both so sweet and caring. A feel good story for sure! This was my first Donna Grant book and I can’t wait to read more from this author.
I loved this book! I am not usually someone who reads a lot of Christmas stories. I will read them but I don't really look for them. This book made its way into my hands and something about that cover drew me right in and I wanted to start reading it right away. Once I started, I didn't want to stop and I ended up reading the whole thing from cover to cover in a single day. I really enjoyed every moment I spent reading this wonderful little story. Clayton is ex-military and has been working overseas until he is called home to the family ranch. The ranch is in trouble and his dad is sick so Clayton must come home to run things and try to save the ranch. Abby has not had it easy. She has been raising her two younger brothers and doing her best to get ahead in life. Abby and Clayton meet when Abby's brother is caught stealing cattle from the ranch Clayton's family owns. Not the best way to start things. Clayton turns out to be a really nice guy and instead of sending Abby's brother, Brice, to jail he lets him come and work his debt off at the ranch. Clayton also enlists Abby's help with the ranch's books hoping that she can sort out exactly what is going on. I loved the characters in this book. Abby and Clayton were both amazing. Abby was strong and cared deeply for her two brothers. She was smart and willing to sacrifice her wants for the sake of other people. Clayton was such a good guy. He has had some things to deal with in his personal and military life. I loved this pair together. They had great chemistry from the very beginning and it was really wonderful to watch them fall in love. The secondary characters were also really well done. Abby's two brothers, Brice and Caleb, played a large role in the story and were really great. Their relationship with their sister really helped illustrate how much she cared for them. Clayton's parents were also key players in the story. I liked how they welcomed Abby and her brothers as if they were family right from the start. The mystery in the book kept things interesting. I really wanted to see Clayton save the ranch with Abby's help. There were a few scenes where we got to see Clayton, a former SEAL, in action which was pretty exciting. This was really a book more focused on romance than anything else and it did a wonderful job with it. I don't know that there was really anything too surprising in the book but everything was executed perfectly. I couldn't help but get swept away by this romantic tale. I would highly recommend to fans of contemporary romance. This book had just the right combination of romance, action, and great characters. The story had just the right amount of Christmas adding just a bit to the story. This is the first book by Donna Grant that I have read and I am really looking forward to reading more of her work soon. I received a review copy of this book from St. Martin's Press.
This is the first Christmas book I have pick up in a long while, and it reminded me why I love them. Clayton and Abby's romance is fun and heart warming. I loved this book, it's sweet and fun!! I hope you enjoy!!! Happy reading!!!!
I’ve read almost everything Donna Grant has written, and as with every other book I? was not disappointed. This is a great story! Loved every word.
This was the best book I have read in quite a whie. IT KEEPS YOU CAPTIVATED the story is sexy with intergrity and values. Way to go Donna you dont disappoint!
Well written and contains a lot of life lessons Sportochick's Musings ~ For me the strongest point made by this book is that mistakes shape one's character making them someone to admire. I love stories involving the holidays especially when they involve two lost people finding one another. This is a heartfelt story about a sister who loves her brothers and raises them against all odds. This story spoke to me in an intense manner as I helped raise my siblings so I connected very strongly with Abby's trials and tribulations in growing up too fast and giving up dreams. I also got how much she loved them and wouldn't change anything. This is well written and contains a lot of life lessons for every character in the story as well as the reader. What impressed me about this book was how the author presented consequences from actions taken with original good intent and how it snowballs as time goes on causing great harm. Also how others grow from these mistakes made by others showing the reader that sometimes mistakes can bring about great change, forgiveness and a life you will love. For me the strongest point made by this book is that mistakes shape one's character making them someone to admire. I give this book 4.5 STARS for the impact it makes on both the families involved. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Wonderful story and great HEA. Loved it and hope it becomes a series
The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant is an awesome Christmas read. Ms Grant has delivered a well-written book. Donna Grant gets an A+ for her characters and dialog in this book. I love these characters! Abby and Clayton's story is like a Christmas stocking overflowing with drama, suspense, action, humor, sizzle and holiday spirit. All the goodies wrapped up in one book. This book hooked me at the first page and held me captive until the end. I totally loved The Christmas Cowboy Hero and can't wait for my next book by Donna Grant. The Christmas Cowboy Hero is book 1 of the Heart Of Texas Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from NetGalley.
family, friendship, intrigue and betrayal THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO is the first instalment in Donna Grant’s contemporary, adult HEART OF TEXAS romance series. This is Navy SEAL Clayton East, and accounting clerk Abby Harper’s story line. Told from several third person perspectives including Abby and Clayton THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO follows Clayton as he returns home, a few weeks before the Christmas holidays, to take over the family’s struggling ranch in the face of his father’s recent stroke, cattle rustlers, and a significant amount of missing money from the family’s business coffers. With the arrest of a local juvenile, Clayton East will come face to face with his future in Abby Harper-the woman with whom he will fall in love. What ensues is the building relationship between Abby and Clayton, and the potential fall out as the investigation into the missing money and the theft of the cattle places Abby and her family in the line of fire. Clayton’s Navy SEAL training will be called into action as the take down of the people responsible requires more than one or two good men. Abby Harper is the legal guardian to her two younger brothers, Caleb and Brice, and struggles to make ends meet including feeding two hungry and growing teens but her sixteen year old brother Brice is caught in a war not of his making that will target everyone he knows and loves. Clayton East’s memories of home are saddened by the long ago death of his older brother, and our hero never intended to return to Texas or take over the ranch. Meeting Abby Harper helps to lighten Clayton’s soul but uncovering the people responsible for the near destruction of the family ranch is secondary to keeping Abby and her younger brothers safe. Clayton offers Abby and Brice a second chance thus allowing our hero to get up close and personal with our story line heroine. The relationship between Abby and Clayton is one of immediate attraction but Clayton battles his need to protect and care for the woman he will come to know as she struggles with two adolescent boys, and everything it entails. Physical and personal threats against Abby and her brothers push Clayton forward in his plans for a happily ever after, inviting the Harper’s to live at the family’s ranch. The $ex scenes are limited but passionate and seductive. We are introduced to Abby’s younger brothers Caleb and Brice, as well as Clayton’s parents Ben and Justine East, ranch manager Shane, and local sheriff Danny Oldman. The requisite evil has many faces including some familiar faces to our story line couple. THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO is a story of family, friendship, romance and love; betrayal and jealousy. The premise is intriguing and entertaining; the characters are colorful, charismatic and real; the romance is provocative and energetic. THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO is a romantic tale of two people fated to fall in love; of two families connected by circumstance; of one couple’s happily ever after.
I really liked this read. Clayton is a former Navy SEAL who comes who to help when his father becomes sick. He learns about the farms financial issues and that someone has stolen a large number of cattle. Abby is trying to make it through college and take care of her younger brothers. She is heartbroken when she learns her brother Brice has stolen cattle. Clayton gives Brice the opportunity to work for him instead of pressing charges so he can get closer to Abby. Will it work? Plenty of drama and suspense. I loved watching Clayton and Abby’s relationship grow. A very entertaining read.
This is the first book in a new series by Donna Grant. It's about Clayton East and Abby Harper. Clayton is a former SEAL who has come home to his family ranch because his parents need his help. After something horrible happens to Clayton as a child he doesn't want to be on the ranch but he feels he has no choice now. On top of that he has issues from the things he had to do while he was in the Navy. Abby is the older sister to two teenage brothers. She put everything on hold to take care of them when her mother took off just after she graduated from high school. She struggles not only monetarily but with the decisions she has to make on a daily basis for them. On whether it is the right thing to do and what is best for them. Then her brother gets arrested and refuses to say who hired him to do the things he did. Abby is scared and has no idea what to do, but Clayton makes a decision that changes all of their lives for the better! I absolutely loved this story! Yes, there are struggles on both sides. But more than that it showed how much love a family can have for each other. How much they can stand up for you and just truly be there for you no matter what. Clayton is such a strong person even with the things that still tear him up. He doesn't think he has anything left to offer to anyone but he finds out wrong. And his parents are always there to help him through it even when he tries to push them away. Abby is scared to trust that people will stay. And when she realizes that it's not anything that her or her brothers did that made their mother take off the way she did? Loved it! Especially when her brother's both (as teenager's mind you) tell her they just want her to be happy. They want to see her smile and not worry or be lonely anymore. This is the perfect Christmas time story of family and love while throwing in some suspense and intrigue along the way. Such a great read! I hope her brother's get stories once they are adults!
when clayton east is called back home to his family's ranch in the opening pages of the christmas cowboy hero, he's not sure he wants to face what awaits him there. his father has taken ill and the ranch's financials are in the toilet after their accountant embezzled the funds. on top of that, cattle rustlers have stolen a herd of pregnant cows and their sire which endangers the ranch's future. brice harper might be the key to untangling the mystery, but he's only sixteen and in a whole heap of trouble. his older sister and surrogate mother, abby has been trying to make ends meet and keep her family together, but this trouble is too big for her to handle alone. and she has every expectation that the forbidding cowboy meeting with her to discuss brice's involvement in the whole scheme will end up throwing the book at her brother. but instead he gives brice a second chance. and that gift keeps on giving as his family welcomes hers into its fold. when what brice knows becomes dangerous from abby and their younger brother, caleb. clayton does everything he can to keep the harpers safe, knowing that these three orphans will make his family whole again. there's a lot of healing and a lot of holiday spirit in this heartwarming tale of love and second chances. one thing i loved is that the fate of the relationship wasn't held in suspense, instead the mystery of the cattle rustlers and the robbery providing the tension in the story. it was a nice, enjoyable read. **the christmas cowboy hero will publish on october 31, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.when clayton east is called back home to his family's ranch in the opening pages of the christmas cowboy hero, he's not sure he wants to face what awaits him there. his father has taken ill and the ranch's financials are in the toilet after their accountant embezzled the funds. on top of that, cattle rustlers have stolen a herd of pregnant cows and their sire which endangers the ranch's future. brice harper might be the key to untangling the mystery, but he's only sixteen and in a whole heap of trouble. his older sister and surrogate mother, abby has been trying to make ends meet and keep her family together, but this trouble is too big for her to handle alone. and she has every expectation that the forbidding cowboy meeting with her to discuss brice's involvement in the whole scheme will end up throwing the book at her brother. but instead he gives brice a second chance. and that gift keeps on giving as his family welcomes hers into its fold. when what brice knows becomes dangerous from abby and their younger brother, caleb. clayton does everything he can to keep the harpers safe, knowing that these three orphans will make his family whole again. there's a lot of healing and a lot of holiday spirit in this heartwarming tale of love and second chances. one thing i loved is that the fate of the relationship wasn't held in suspense, instead the mystery of the cattle rustlers and the robbery providing the tension in the story. it was a nice, enjoyable read. **the christmas cowboy hero will publish on october 31, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.
A sweet contemporary romance… This is the first book in the Heart of Texas series. In Africa protecting animals from poachers former Navy SEAL Clayton East couldn’t return home after the things he’d seen and done, he was no longer the man he once was. A telephone call with news of his father having had a mini-stroke and the family ranch in financial difficulties sent him across the globe to Texas and memories that haunt him of a brother long gone. The situation at home was dire: his father’s unable to run the ranch, a prized bull and cattle due to calf soon were stolen, and a trusted accountant embezzled the family funds. The authorities captured one of the livestock thieves, a teenage boy who refuses to name accomplices and appears afraid to do so. Upon meeting the teen’s guardian, an elder sister, Clayton decides to give the boy a chance to work off the debt incurred to his family and to earn the teen’s trust so he can find the missing animals before they are sold off somewhere. The sister is a breath of fresh air, honest, gorgeous, caring, and protective of the brothers she had to raise. She’s a surprising draw to Clayton and he looks forward to seeing more of her. When her mother up and left her three children, Abby Harper was barely eighteen and she became the guardian for two younger brothers. It hasn’t been easy, money is always tight; she works from paycheck to paycheck with no benefits, and takes night classes when able to earn her college accounting degree. Having her brother arrested for stealing livestock from the East Ranch was out of her depth to handle. Abby’s grateful to Clayton for giving her brother a second chance working at the ranch instead of serving jail time for his transgressions. She also finds herself attracted to Clayton, a good man who did a good deed for her family but like her brothers she has abandonment issues and doesn’t trust relationships. Wanting to help the East’s herself she uses her accounting skills to audit the ranch books and spots discrepancies but it’s her daytime job that leads to a clue of who the real thieves are. This was a sweet slow burn contemporary romance occurring around the Christmas season, a story of two people meeting and navigating their emotions and desires with a touch of suspense in the form of a mystery to be solved added in to keep things exciting, we do get to see the SEAL in action. The slow pace of the romance was appropriate for a woman with abandonment issues and a man who needed to find himself again after the realities of military service and the loss of a loved one. Their attraction definitely sizzled whenever they were around each other, they were two lonely souls who found not just healing and completion with each other but also redemption and acceptance. There was a strong theme of family and the tale was reminiscent of Cinderella and her prince. An advanced reading copy was obtained from the publisher via NetGalley.
The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant Heart of Texas #1 Called home to “fix things” on the family ranch but not ready to face the demons at home or the ones that have tagged on for the ride after years as a Navy SEAL Clayton East does what he must and heads home to find out where the money and the rustled cattle have disappeared to. One of the first people he encounters while dealing with the rustler issue is Abby Harper. Why Abby? Her brother is the only one of the rustlers caught in the act and she has come in to the jail to plead his case. Abby has been the sole custodian of her 14 and 16 year old brothers for eight years and is not willing to let them fall by the wayside or end up with a criminal record – not if there is anything she can do to prevent it. Well, as a meet-cute this was one that poleaxed both Clayton and Abby and started the two on the way to their HEA! After Clayton talks to Abby, her brother Brice and the police he decides to give Brice a helping hand and second chance. Karma can be a b*tch or can bring blessings and that is just what happens for all involved as Brice finds he loves ranching (and so does his brother Caleb), Abby finds herself in her element searching through ledgers to find out where the East Ranch money disappeared to, Clayton and Abby find a safe harbor (and more) together, Clayton’s parents enjoy having a full house again and the b*tch side of karma comes to roost on the bad guys as they are caught and dealt with. This book has all the elements necessary to warm your heart whether you read it during the holidays or some other time of year. I can hardly wait to find out who will be featured in the next book of this series and am eager to read it when it comes out. Thank you to NetGaley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC – This is my honest review. 5 Stars
This is another great story from Donna Grant. A Texas cowboy and an ex SEAL all rolled up into one tidy handsome package? Yes please! Clayton East served his country with the Navy and never came back to his home after getting out. He took a job with a contractor in South Africa protecting native animals. Growing up on a large ranch he's still got that affinity for animals. He didn't want to go home, felt like he wasn't the same person after his one too many tours, until he's forced to go home when his father falls ill. Arriving home he sees what dire straits the ranch is really is, someone has been stealing cattle, the ranch is bordering on bankruptcy and Clayton has his hands full. When he gets a call from the Sheriff that they caught one of the cattle rustlers, he heads to town. Abby Harper gets a phone call at work that her younger brother has been arrested. Rushing to the office and having no idea what's happened, Abby has been raising Caleb and Brice since she turned 18 and her mother walked out on them, leaving her to raise the boys on her own. No money, no anything she busts her can to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. When she finds out what he's done and meets Clayton, who's got his own form of punishment, Brice is more than willing to work off his time at the ranch and hopefully he'll tell Clayton who else is involved in this. When Caleb is invited to the ranch, both boys jump in head first into the life and love it. Abby does too. The Easts, Clayton's parents treat her and the boys like the mother she never had and little by little she relaxes. She's also helping Clayton with the books for the ranch. It's an endless paper trail trying to find out where the embezzled money went. Christmas is approaching and Clayton and Abby are growing even closer and their chemistry is off the charts. I loved it. Clayton is one hot cowboy! What a great story with the twists and turns and who stole their cattle. Finding the money. Clayton's plan to never let Abby go, the boys loving the ranch life. The book has it all. I loved it. It's a smooth read and that's how Donna writes. Steamy but not overdone. Then there's the cowboy ex SEAL with covers both bases for me. I'd say it's a winner. **arc from NetGalley and Publisher in exchange for a fair review**
Donna Grant is known for her Scottish Warriors, Dragon Kings, Fae Assassins, and Druids. Now she is tackling hot cowboys with military backgrounds. In the first book of her new series Heart of Texas, we meet the East family and more importantly we meet Clayton East, an ex-Navy SEAL who has been hiding from his past and his family. He is called home when his father has a stroke due to their CPA embezzling all of their money and someone stealing a lot of their cattle. He comes home to solve the mystery and then leave again. What he doesn’t expect to find is the sister of a teen who was part of the cattle rustlers. She is a mix of strength and vulnerability, loyalty and loneliness, and has the bluest eyes he has ever seen. He strikes a bargain with her teen brother; come work for him to pay off the debt for the lost cattle and he won't file charges against him. Abby has been raising her two younger brothers ever since their mother walked out. She is exhausted and stressed and at a loss as to how to fix her brother’s latest mistake. What she sees in Clayton is a wounded man who carries around a lot of guilt. He is also very easy on the eyes and she is definitely attracted to him. With her brother working at the ranch she finds herself spending more time there and with Clayton. Sparks fly, passions flair, and walls are let down to reveal the scars beneath. Along the way, they work together to find out who stole the cattle and how the money was embezzled. It was a really great story. Loved it from beginning to end and really didn’t want it to end. I wanted more but I wasn’t left needing more. It was perfect. Their story was a great blend of passion and a story of getting to know each other and letting the other in. Great. Can’t wait till there is more.
The Christmas Cowboy Hero is about two strangers meeting in the most unlikely place and under the most unusual of circumstances. Can it be fate? Clayton left his tour of duty as a SEAL and couldn't face returning home. A family tragedy changed him when he was only a little boy. War has changed him even more. Abby has been living on the breadline since she was a teenager. She is a mother, sister and friend to her youngest brothers, Caleb and Brice. She works all hours and never complains. As long as her brothers are happy. Clayton returns home on a family emergency. The emergency turns out to be more than anticipated. His parents have been robbed and deceived in more ways than one. Abby is called to the police station where her brother is being held and has her first encounter with Clayton. She is informed of the gravity of his crime and expects the worse. She is proved wrong when Clayton gives him a second chance with strict conditions. She now feels indebted to him and when the opportunity to help him presents itself, she is only too happy to assist. They start to look forward to see each other and as they spend time together, something starts to blossom. His past stops him from opening up whilst she has a fear of being abandoned. Will they allow their pasts to get in the way of a promising future? This novel is mostly about family units. Loving and being loved can make a difference in the most difficult situations. I admire Abby for her love and dedication to her brothers who in turn return that love. Clayton's parents are exemplary. The romance is a gradual build up which ends in a flourish. The Christmas holiday setting is beautifully presented and makes the storyline even more compulsive. It's an engaging and delightful read. I was kindly issued with an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley and the views expressed are my personal opinion.
Donna Grant brings readers a feel-good story about family, love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. I fell in love with these characters and wholeheartedly embraced their journey. The story is well-paced, with plenty of action, a bit of suspense, heartwarming romance, a strong family dynamic, and a well-deserved happy ending. The mystery of the cattle rustlers is solved but there's a significant loose thread pertaining to the embezzlement of the ranch's funds which makes me wonder if this book will be part of a series. If it is, I'll happily return for any future stories.
Light Read 3.5* This was a good solid story with little angst and can be read in a couple of hours. I enjoyed the mystery element of this book and the family interactions but I didn’t feel the emotion; not for the traumatic incidents the H and h had been through nor did I feel the passion between them, in fact I found the sex scenes rather mechanical. Having read other reviews I seem to be in the minority, so maybe I was just in the wrong frame of mind when I read this story. I would certainly be prepared to give this author another try. I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.
This book has all kinds of excitement and action in it. There is embezzlement, modern day cattle wresting and bad guys galore. But the good guys ride in to save the day led by good guy and hero of this story Clayton East. Abby Harper doesn't have a chance of escaping Clayton's love once he sets eyes on her. Abby's mother abandoned her and her two brothers Brice and Caleb when she was eighteen. As demonstrated in this story as you read about Abby it takes a strong and loving woman to take up the reins and raise two young boys and make a family. In this case Abby does a wonderful job but lets her personal life go since her brothers are her priority. It takes Brice's big mistake and Clayton's belief in second chances to change everything for the better for Abby. This is not your typical Christmas story but it still is all about what everyone thinks about at Christmas, love of family, sharing and caring. I really enjoyed this book and I believe everyone who picks it up will enjoy it too!