Sunday, December 18, 2022

December Read: Christmas at the Ranch by Anita Hughes


December has truly gone by so fast my head is spinning. As per my usual tradition, I always enjoy reading holiday books after Thanksgiving and up to New Year's Day. Then I put them away and aren't even slightly tempted until next November. 

Christmas at the Ranch by Anita Hughes follows along with her previous holiday reads: Christmas in Vermont, Christmas in Paris, Christmas at the Chalet, and A Magical New York Christmas. They are all stand alone titles, so you can read them as you wish.

Christmas at the Ranch takes place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Successful author Samantha Morgan is invited to her publisher's ranch for the Christmas holiday, and saying no is not an option. Her books are a series of action novels featuring secret agent Sloan Parker, and part of the marketing around her novels features Samantha in some wild adventures--amazing what digital editing and a green screen can do! 

Trouble is, she's a homebody who prefers nothing more than to stay in her apartment with her dog. She's afraid her publisher, Arthur, will find out she's not what her agent says she is, so reluctantly she boards a plane (terrified it will crash). 

On the plane, she meets charming and kind Drew. But surprise! Drew is Arthur's son, and he's also spending the holiday at the ranch. With his fiancĂ©. 

Samantha slowly and carefully begins to enjoy the charms of the ranch and the town of Jackson Hole. She meets a lovely woman in a shop who encourages her to be brave and try new things. Her feelings for Drew keep growing, but there lies heartache. And Arthur turns out to be a pretty nice man, too. Generous and proud of Samantha's success. 

There are more subplots, but I don't want to give it all away. This is a novel that has romantic elements, but they are very mild. I just didn't get any strong sense of attraction between Samantha and Drew. Lots of designer names tossed about, plenty of hot chocolate, loads of delicious food and drinks. Amazing trips out and about to see the beauty of Wyoming and enjoy the winter season. No Christmas shopping stress, bad weather, or budgeting money here. 

If you're looking for a holiday novel that will completely take you away to a fabulous place, this is it. I was disappointed in the lack of heat between Samantha and Drew, and there was a fast conclusion to one of the subplots that just didn't flow very well. I did get annoyed at the author's use of book plots and Native American "wise words" when characters gave advice. They never had solid advice from their own experiences, and always referred to advice from a third party. It got old pretty fast.

Rating: 3/6 for a festive winter setting, a glimpse into the high life, and of course I'm always happy about novels that involve authors and books!

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio.

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