REVIEW: The Rancher’s Christmas Proposal by Sherri Shackelford
I bought this book as part of my readers’ service subscription with Harlequin Love Inspired Historical and what a find! I love discovering new-to-me authors this way and I’m looking forward to catching up on the previous four books in the PRAIRIE COURTSHIPS series. Read through the blurbs yourself to see if you agree. Book 5, THE RANCHER’S CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL introduced me to several interesting characters I need to know more about. Like the Sheriff’s wife who supposedly shot him at some point in their romance. And John Elder and his drove of orphans he’s taken in with the help of his wife. I had fun trying to figure out who was who and which book I could read next to learn more about them. I feel a shopping spree coming on!
In THE RANCHER’S CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL, Tessa Spencer is on the run from an outlaw when she meets a toddler who seems lost at the train depot in Wichita, Kansas. The little boy continuously says “ball” and seems attached to her for some reason. As Tessa suspects, soon enough a frantic parent comes searching for the little boy.
Shane McCoy, a widower and father of a twin boy and girl, is in a tough predicament. The children’s mother swore him to secrecy about their real father before she died. Shane had married his childhood friend who was in trouble and is attached to the twins he thinks of as his own. But his deceased wife’s wishes was for the children to be raised by her sister after her death.
After meeting Tessa Spencer who is especially kind to his children, Shane realizes that the woman intending to take on the children’s care is only in it for the money and her child rearing skills are severely lacking. Even though his ranch is isolated and he has no ability to care for the children while he and his men work on the ranch, he decides to take the children back home with him. He’ll find a way somehow, even if they have to stay with friends for the winter.
When Shane realizes Tessa is running from an outlaw, he tells a lawman who arrests the man, intending for Tessa to receive the reward money. Tessa is far from pleased, as the outlaw has brothers who will surely come looking for whoever gets that reward money. But Shane has a plan that will keep them both safe and Tessa goes along with it. Until the outlaw escapes and the reward money is withdrawn.
Now Tessa is stuck in Cimarron Springs with her last dollars and nowhere to go. Until she strikes a bargain with the handsome rancher that they get hitched to solve their individual problems. A marriage of convenience might seem like the right choice at the time but Tessa wants more. Will this rancher of few words ever come to love her?
Tessa Spencer is a great heroine. She has a shady past but has decided that God has other plans for her, so Tessa tries to make up for her past transgressions. Marrying Shane McCoy and becoming a mother of sorts to his twins should make fast work of that list of sins she needs to atone for.
Shane McCoy seems to pick up strays everywhere he goes. He’s always giving the underdog a chance. His ranch hands are an assortment of men with odd quirks and hardships to overcome. They immediately take to Tessa and hope this couple can find their way to happiness.
The twins are adorable and give Tessa quite a time of it. Shane isn’t much help as he basically deposits her in the house with the twins and goes to work on the ranch while sleeping in the bunkhouse. Tessa knows nothing about running a household or caring for twins but she buys a book on household management to help her. Shane has great intentions but he’s not too smart when it comes to wooing a woman. If these two are ever going to have a chance at a happy-ever-after, something is going to have to happen to wake Shane up.
I know I wanted to shake Shane a few times myself. He’s so stubborn and set in his ways! When more than one thing happens to get his attention and make him realize what he’s about to lose, Shane comes through with a plan that’s charming. I was totally on Shane’s side by that time, but he sure took his sweet time getting his act together. Tessa has patience of a saint, that’s for sure!
THE RANCHER’S CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL is a sweet marriage of convenience western historical romance with a twist. I enjoyed the inclusion of outlaws and Tessa’s quirky father. They added some good suspense to the story. Even though I suspected what might happen, I was surprised by Tessa and Shane’s actions in the end. Although this story is inspirational and Tessa has experienced an awakening in her faith, this isn’t an overly religious story. The character’s conviction is there in the background guiding her, but there isn’t scripture or more religious aspects as in books listed as Christian fiction. Since Tessa wants to atone for her past, it’s a great blend for an inspirational story and makes this a perfect book for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line.
For those who love a sweet romance with only chaste kisses, then this book will satisfy. The subtle humor is also a nice touch and I loved the town’s efforts towards Shane’s happiness. The fact that everyone, including his ranch hands, know him better than he knows himself, is very entertaining. In the end, this quiet, loving rancher doesn’t stand a chance when faced with the perfect wife for him and a town that’s determined to help their love ignite. An engaging story, THE RANCHER’S CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL is great reading anytime of the year. My bet is that if you’re like me and read this book first, you’ll soon be shopping for the rest of the series.
Reviewed by Dorine, courtesy of The Zest Quest. Book purchased.
The Rancher’s Christmas Proposal by Sherri Shackelford
Series: Prairie Courtships, Book 5
Category: Historical Inspirational
Publisher: Harlequin (November 1, 2015)
Rated 4.5 out of 5
Do you enjoy series books? What themes do you enjoy most?