There are only twenty three shopping days until Christmas.... can you believe that? I hope you all had a fantastic holiday weekend. Hopefully you didn't burst your britches or break your wallet by over indulging. To get you in the holiday spirit, I wanted to bring you a charming, cozy and cheery Christmas read. I selected The Cowboy's Christmas Baby by Carolyn Brown to get us in the mood. I first met Carolyn last spring when I read her book The Blue Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubliee. I liked her witty characters and the small town feel. I have heard nothing but good things about her cowboy books, so I figured what the heck? Besides, Carolyn is an absolute delight to work with, and I love her sense of humor so I had to have her back. For those of you who haven't met Carolyn Brown, let me introduce you:
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and a RITA finalist. Her books include historical, contemporary, cowboys and country music mass market paperbacks. The Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee is her debut woman’s fiction book. Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, she refers to herself as a Tex-Okie. She and her husband live in Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. Find Carolyn on her website,Facebook, and Goodreads.
I invited Carolyn and Hazel here today to tell you more about the men in the book. Who is Hazel you ask? She is the feisty eighty five year old woman who is the heart and soul of the ranch, but I will let Carolyn and Hazel tell you all the details. Please welcome Carolyn and Hazel:
Good morning everyone. It’s a delight to be here at Rainy Day Ramblings today. Folks say that if you want to know something about a business you don’t ask the boss, you ask his secretary. With that in mind, I expect if you want to know something about a ranch, you ask the woman who takes care of the house and the kitchen. On Cedar Hill, that would be Hazel and she’s agreed to let me interview her today. So grab a glass of sweet tea and pull up a chair while we talk about Christmas in Savoy, Texas.
Carolyn: First of all tell us a little about yourself, Hazel.
Hazel: The only thing at Cedar Ridge older than I am is the house and the damn dirt. I’ve been known on occasion to throw a hissy. I cuss but God and I’ve made an agreement about that. There’s certain words a lady does not say or think, and then there’s words that keep her from committin’ murder—words that’s necessary to get the anger safely out of the soul. He figures that last part is necessary so I don’t take a bad soul with me to heaven. Family comes first in my books and the folks on Cedar Hill are family, not by blood lines but by heart strings. I love my daughter but Lucas is like a son to me and I’d do anything to help him find happiness.
Carolyn: Anything? Is that why you told everyone your hip was worse than it really was?
Hazel (with a wicked little grin on her face): Darlin’, you have no idea how hard that was on an old woman. Lucas had been gone for a whole year and I really did not want to be away from him right there at the first. I had all kinds of plans about how much fun we were going to have getting Cedar Hill ready for the holidays. It’s all of my cowboys’ favorite holiday and to miss it was a sacrifice. But a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do to get the job done.
Carolyn: Cowboys? Tell us about them.
Hazel (holding up her hand and counting off the cowboys on her fingers): There’s Henry, the grandpa and part time preacher who cusses almost as bad as me. Henry and I could be close to the same age. He lost his wife way back when their son, Jack, was just a kid and I helped finish raisin’ the boy. Only thing we failed in was not shootin’ that woman he married. But the heart will have what it wants or it whines something terrible. Jack made his mistake but at least he got Lucas out of the deal and Cedar Hill sure needed a boy on the ranch to keep us entertained. Grady is Jack’s cousin and has been the foreman on Cedar Hill since Lucas was a baby. He helped with the boy-raisin’ business but not as much as I did.
Carolyn: So you’ve been there to help with two generations already?
Hazel: That’s right and I’d been lookin’ for a sign from God to help me convince Lucas that Natalie’s baby boy, Joshua, was a special Christmas baby just for him, since he couldn’t have children. That damn ex-girlfriend of his should be shot but then that’s a story for another day. We’re talkin’ about Natalie and Joshua right now.
Carolyn: And who is Natalie and Joshua?
Hazel: First of all let me make this clear. I don’t like all this internet dating shit but if that’s the only way the Good Lord could get Natalie and Lucas together who am I to doubt Him. After all he does let me slide (a sly wink here ) on my cussin’ habit. Hmm (finger up to her chin), do you reckon that someday they’ll have a cussin’ patch like those quit-smokin’ things?
Carolyn: They do, Hazel. It’s called duct tape over the mouth.
Hazel (narrowing her eyes at me and shaking that finger): Don’t you get sassy with me, young lady. Now where was I? Oh, Natalie and Lucas…it was the damn hand of fate that brought them together and kept them together for a whole year with nothing but the internet so I can’t cuss about it too much. When he told me about Natalie, I decided that it would be a great surprise if she was already there when he got home. That she had a little baby in her arms when she arrived shocked us all but hey, it ain’t proper to fight with fate. And it ain’t wise either because you flat out can’t win the war with Madam Fate. Besides, we flat out fell in love with that baby from the first minute. Then I fell and while I was sprawled out there on the floor with an aching hip, I got the idea that if I wasn’t in the picture then Natalie would have to stay on at Cedar Hill to help cook and take care of the cowboys. I begged her and threatened the rest of them. Like I said a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do.
Carolyn: And it worked, right? Tell us what happened after you faked the severity of your fall and went to Memphis for a month.
Hazel (smiling): Now a girl don’t give away all her secrets. You want to hear the way things really happened at Cedar Hill between Thanksgiving and Christmas you pick up Carolyn’s story and read all about what went on with the animals, the old cowboys and even that bitchy ex-girlfriend. It was probably best that I wasn’t there when the real story came out or I might have gone way past the cussin’ sin and got Henry’s old shotgun down off the wall above the fireplace.
Carolyn: Thank you, Hazel for talking to me today.
Hazel: My pleasure. I didn’t have a big part in the book but believe me I had the most important part. The way Lucas reacted to that baby, why, he just had to have some time to get things settled.
Carolyn: Hazel and I will be around for most of the day to answer questions, so come right in and sit a spell with us. She’s made cookies, the coffee is hot and there’s a pitcher of sweet tea all iced down and ready. Hazel’s favorite Christmas ornament is the angel on the top of the tree, the one that Joshua slobbered on when he helped set it this year. What’s your favorite one?
Don't you love those gals? They put a big old smile on my face today, and I hope the did yours as well! Be sure to ask any question you are dying for Hazel to answer in the comments!
Now these two sweet Southern Gals wouldn't show up to my blog empty handed, especially during the holiday season, it just wouldn't be fit and proper now would it? So Carolyn and Hazel have a chance for you all to win a copy of The Cowboy's Christmas Baby by Carolyn Brown....wait make that two chances... Carolyn is making that two signed copies to two lucky winners U.S. residents only. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter after reading the Contest Policies! Good Luck y'all! Watch for Carolyn to pop back by in Februrary!
Thanks Carolyn and Hazel!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Cowboy's Christmas Baby by Carolyn Brown
A pistol-totin' woman who's no angel
A tough rancher who doesn't believe in miracles
Love that warms the coldest nights
After a year in Kuwait, Lucas Allen can't wait to get back to his ranch for Christmas and meet his gorgeous Internet pal in person.
When he pulls in, there's Natalie Clark right in his front yard with a pink pistol in her hand and a dead coyote at her feet.
Lucas is unfazed. But wait...is that a BABY in her arms?
Praise of Carolyn Brown's Christmas cowboy romances:
"Carolyn Brown created some handsome, hunkified, HOT cowboys! A fun, enjoyable, four-star-Christmas-to-remember novel."--The Romance Reviews
"Full of sizzling chemistry and razor-sharp dialogue."--Night Owl Reviews, Reviewer Top Pick 4 1/2 stars
"Makes me believe in Christmas miracles and long slow kisses under the mistletoe."--The Romance Studio
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: Author in exchange for an honest review
Four stars: A cozy Christmas read with plenty of cowboy kisses!
Lucas is excited and relieved to be returning back to the U.S. after his tour of duty in Kuwait. He is especially excited to meet Natalie, the girl with whom he has been conversing with on the computer for the past few months. He has fallen in love with Natalie, even though he has yet to meet her in person. imagine Lucas' surprise when he returns to his ranch and comes face to face with a gorgeous girl toting a pistol in one hand and a baby in the other. He is shocked to find Natalie already at his home, and even more surprising is she has a small infant! During their months and months of internet chatting, not once did Natalie mention she was having a baby. All thoughts of a kisses and passion are out the window as Lucas wants nothing to do with Natalie or her baby. Unfortunately, it isn't so easy for Lucas to get rid of Natalie as the folks on his ranch seem to be conspiring against him to bring them together. Can Natalie and Lucas find their own Christmas miracle?
What I Liked:
- This is my second outing with a Carolyn Brown book and my first cowboy book by her. Carolyn is an author I am learning I can go to when I want a book with fun, likable characters, romance and plenty of laughs. I adore her characters and look forward to meeting the feisty women that grace the pages of her books. A Cowboy Christmas Baby, brings two such memorable gals. The spitfire Natalie who is a crack shot and an excellent cook as well as sexy, and the sharp tongued, no nonsense elderly Hazel who can whip the men in line on the ranch with just a look. Carolyn is definitely an author who knows how to write genuine and likable characters.
- I found this to be the perfect book to get me in the holiday spirit. I loved the cozy, small town feel, and I enjoyed getting to know Lucas, Natalie, Jack, Grady and Henry. The three elderly men in this book are absolutely charming, and I thought it was adorable who they all fell head over heels over baby Joshua. There is plenty of love and holiday cheer as the folks on the Texas ranch prepare for the holidays and try to play matchmaker. I especially enjoyed the pinch of holiday magic involving baby Joshua and the animals.
- The romance is one of antagonism and underlying heat. Natalie and Lucas fell in love conversing over the internet while Lucas was in Kuwait. Lucas met Natalie through his bunkmate, Drew. Drew and Natalie had been best friends their whole lives. Before long, Lucas is smitten with the sexy, capable cowgirl. Unfortunately, when they meet face to face, Lucas is angered when he learns Natalie has a baby. A baby that she didn't tell him about. The spitfire Natalie is hurt and angry at Lucas' response, and she immediately endeavors to leave, but the heart of the ranch, Hazel, fell and broke her hip. Hazel is insisting Natalie stay for a month and help out while she convalesces. What follows is a dance of sparks and passion as the two argue, and then eventually fall in love. I always enjoy a good antagonistic romance, and I loved the spice and humor that occurred between Natalie and Lucas. It is a believable, slow moving romance that sparks into fire.
- The sexy cover suggest that this is a romance novel with plenty of sex. I have never been a big reader of romance novels, and I am not a fan of explicitly long and detailed sex scenes. i was pleased to find that the sex scenes in this were perfectly pleasant, there is just enough sizzle and detail to satisfy without going into the too much information territory. You can read this without blushing. I have read many New Adult titles that are far more explicit and detailed than this book. Don't pass this up just because you aren't a big romance novel enthusiast. It is a pleasant, feel good holiday read that will leave you feeling cheery and excited for the season.
- I jumped into this one without having read the first book. No worries, this is actually a companion novel to Billion Dollar Cowboy. There is a brief encounter with the character from the first book, so I am sure fans will love that. You can jump in at any point in this series because they can be read as stand alones. I am a big fan of companion novels for that reason.
And The Not So Much:
- I was a bit disappointed that we weren't privy to more of the falling in love process that occurred before the couple met in person. Natalie and Lucas were introduced through a mutual friend and they begin chatting daily online. Over the months, they fell in love. Unfortunately, there is not much detail on the building of the romance. I always enjoy seeing how a couple falls in love so I was hoping that I could witness those first stirrings of romantic feelings.
- Hazel, the sharp tongued, old lady who runs the ranch was a riot. She is the type of woman I want to be when I grow up. She is witty, funny, and she never hesitates to speak her mind. She tells you how it is and skips the niceties. She isn't afraid to curse and give you a good tongue lashing if you deserve it. Yet, she guards the men on the ranch fiercely, and no one is going to harm them unless they go through Hazel. I loved this feisty gal, and I wished that she was more present in the book.
- The storyline was predictable and there were no big surprises, but who cares. It was a fun, sweet story that will put you in a cheery holiday mood. Sure, it is easy to see how things are going to go, but the journey is so much fun.
- This is a minor nit picky point, but the cover has a sexy, bare chested cowboy standing out in the snow. Even though he is pleasing eye candy, it isn't realistic because I don't know any cowboys who are going to be standing out in the freezing cold with their shirt flapping open.
The Cowboy's Christmas Baby is a perfectly, pleasant, cozy holiday read that will provide you with plenty of sizzle and sweet charm. It is a wonderful book for the season and it is a terrific me up read. If are wanting an easy, holiday book to put you in the right mood, pick this one up! The memorable characters, heated romance and the Christmas magic is just right. Grab a cookie and a hot beverage and settle in with this one!
"Nowadays, girls are namin' their kids such weird names it looks like they just throwed the whole alphabet up in the sky and whatever fell on the table, that's what they named their kid."
"The Bible says not to get drunk. It don't say that I can't have a sip of Jack to warm my old bones."
"But hey, rumors could make miracles and perform magic and they had wings that carried them faster than the wind in a tornado."
"God you really are tall. You were sitting down last night and I didn't realize how tall you are."
"Don't know how tall God is, but if you are talking about me, I'm probably right at six feet with these boots on."
"Darlin', I am not just a woman. i'm a big cup of sass, covered in ornery sauce, with a splash of bitch and a dash of pure old stubbornness thrown in for good luck."
"I believe in the possibility of anything. I think Fate and Mother Nature are sisters. sometimes they are sweet and sometimes they are bitchy, but they'll use anything at their disposal to get what they want. And believe me, there's a lot at their disposal."
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.