REVIEW: TBR Challenge Snowflakes and Stetsons
SNOWFLAKES AND STETSONS by Jillian Hart, Carol Finch and Cheryl St. John is a historical anthology based on Western Christmas Wishes. Anthologies with a Christmas theme are my favorite books to buy for holiday reading because they’re easier to read in small snippets of time. That said, this review was written to meet our TBR Challenge date before I finish the third story, so I’ll come back and revise this when I’m finished.
Why was this in Dorine’s TBR? I purchased this book in print because the cover wouldn’t stop calling me. Isn’t it cute? I like Jillian Hart and Cheryl St. John for historical westerns, and as a bonus I’d get to try new-to-me author Carol Finch. But, I only read Christmas stories in December and January, so this one sat on my shelf way too long. Wendy’s challenge got me moving to finally read this one.
The first novella I read was THE COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE by Jillian Hart, which has a very unusual premise. The hero served time and comes back to find the woman he had hoped to spend his life with prior to his imprisonment. Nothing is as he expects because he discovers the woman died and he has a son who is now living with another woman in charge of his care.
I love the setting of Montana territory but I didn’t find Caroline Dreyer’s circumstances as believable as Caleb McGraw’s. That she would willingly move to a remote place with her best friend’s son, then speak to a stranger as easily as she does, wasn’t convincing. Caroline seems very naïve for a woman making it on her own.
All three characters have suffered a great loss, but their stories didn’t affect me emotionally as I felt they should. They should have tugged at my heart but I wasn’t invested in their backstory enough for that to happen.
The foundation for this novella was intriguing but it carried on too long without enough subplot to support it. Caleb McGraw’s story is heartbreaking but he’s too ashamed of his background once the reader understands what happened to him. He’s kind and respectable but I wanted him to have more confidence and pride.
A good idea but the characters and their day-to-day lives didn’t appeal to me enough. The writing is good but the story needed more oomph. I’d rate this novella a 3.5 as I will remember the ingenuity of creating a hero who has just been released from prison, but the rest of the story didn’t captivate.
I skipped to Cheryl St. John’s novella next, instead of reading in order so that I could meet my deadline. I have never read Carol Finch before, so I am intrigued. Anthologies are one way I find new-to-me authors, so I’ll go back to her story and update this review when finished.
As always, Cheryl St. John’s story A MAGICAL GIFT AT CHRISTMAS captured my attention from the first page. I love the “stranded in the wilderness” idea, anyways, but this one has several unusual twists.
First, the hero is a marshal in charge of guarding some payroll gold on a train in Colorado. When he suspects a robbery, he detaches the last few cars to hide the gold from the gang. He instructs the engineer to keep going and not stop when the gang tries to overtake them.
The Pullman car attached to the mail car just happens to have a rich, railroad baron’s daughter in it and they become stranded in a snow storm together. If that’s not enough to contend with, they discover two orphans who hid themselves in the mail car, so now they have gold, robbers and the children to worry about as well as their growing attraction to one another.
Jonah and Meredith seem like a most unlikely couple because of her family’s wealth and her obvious upbringing, but Meredith isn’t your normal socialite. She shoots guns and isn’t afraid to use them when the going gets tough. She’s feminine, yet tough as nails – not afraid to stand up to Jonah when he’s being ridiculous. He soon learns Meredith is not predictable and just the kind of woman he can relate to, even though he knows she’s about to be engaged when they reach Denver.
Cheryl St. John’s novella is entertaining, unusual and has some great survival tactics, something I love to read about. The only part that wasn’t perfect for me was the quick, few sentence resolution. I think an epilogue would have been a nice touch because I wanted to know more. Even with that small disappointment, I’d rate this a 4.5 because it’s exciting, unusual and interesting, keeping me glued to the pages from beginning to end.
For me, the SNOWFLAKES AND STETSONS book purchase was worth the money because of the unusual premise of the two stories I read so far. The cover drew me in with the cute child on the cover and both stories contained children who drove the plots forward. Both are also very sweet romances for those who prefer that type of story.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of The Zest Quest. Print book purchased by me.
Snowflakes and Stetsons: Western Christmas Wishes by Jillian Hart, Carol Finch, Cheryl St. John
Category: Historical Western Romance
Publisher: Harlequin (September 20, 2011)
Rated 3.5, 4.5, ?
Do you read anthologies for a specific reason such as finding new-to-you authors, or for reading when you have less time?
December 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm
I do love that cover! No wonder you couldn’t resist it. Great review. 🙂
December 22, 2016 at 5:03 pm
Thank you, Lynn. Covers are a big reason I have such a ridiculous TBR. It has nothing to do with my inability to resist temptation. Uh huh, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂
December 22, 2016 at 12:28 pm
At the time I read this (right around when it was first published), I picked it up on the strength of Hart and St. John – who are both autobuys for me (although like you I seem to recall the St. John story being my favorite). St. John is my #1 “comfort read.” I don’t think she can write a “bad” story.
December 22, 2016 at 5:06 pm
St. John is reliable for me as well, Wendy. I can see why you consider her a #1 comfort read. I haven’t read all her books, so I need to go on a buying spree. Any favorites I shouldn’t miss?