Review: Cowboy Boots for Christmas (Cowboy Not Included) by Carolyn Brown

Review: Cowboy Boots for Christmas (Cowboy Not Included) by Carolyn Brown
Cowboy Boots for Christmas (Cowboy Not Included)

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: #1 Burnt Boot, TX
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Western Romance
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released on October 7, 2014
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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Whenever I want to curl up with a down-home, heartwarming read that includes small town quirky characters and a cowboy needing love, I reach for the latest book by Carolyn Brown. She talks Texan, knows ranch life, and must have spent her life in a small town because lordy its full immersion when you pick up her books. This latest one- and the start of a new series though it has loose connections to a previous series- had the added element of featuring two military vets for the hero and heroine along with a bunch of cute kids, a hilarious menagerie of animals, a town feud and a savvy group of old ladies. It didn’t wow me with fireworks in the bedroom or pulse-pounding action, but it did leave me with a warm feeling and a smile on my face.

The story opens when, Finn O’Donnell, former Army Sniper and ranch hand for his own family ranch, buys his own spread outside the small town of Burnt Boot, TX and moves there with his dog, Shotgun, where he hopes for a bit of peace and quiet. That all gets upended when he steps out on his porch to see his old spotter and secret crush, Callie Brewster, and her nephew, Martin, arriving to beg a place to stay. Martin witnessed a murder and they need somewhere to hide out until the trial. Callie knows Finn’s place is remote and Finn can protect them. Finn agrees wholeheartedly realizing that Callie and Martin are just what he needed if only he can get the skittish Callie to fall in line with his Christmas plans.

Callie had her eye on Finn since the moment they became a sniper team, but the rules about fraternization, Finn’s attraction to another woman and her own family emergency separated them and they lost contact. Now here he is, unattached and still very attractive. Callie might be willing to scratch an itch, but she’s terrified to try for anything permanent and that includes letting Martin get that pair of cowboy boots he wants because that signifies a degree of attachment to Finn’s ranch that she’s afraid to want. But when she and Martin are only the first of the homeless refugees through Finn’s door and a few other ranch beauties are eying up Finn taking the local feud to whole new levels, she has some decisions to make because Finn wants every last person and animal that found their way to his ranch to stay. Permanently. Can she set aside her fears and reach out for her own brand of Christmas joy?

The plot meanders along a bit slowly teasing out the life of Burnt Boot, Finn and Callie’s history together and their tentative try at romance in the present, the ongoing feud between two big ranching families, and of course all the Christmas activities that run throughout the story.

The cast of characters is large and includes some adorable animals. Joe the parrot kept me in stitches when he broke out in talk. I loved the three older women that had their own schemes, but kept neutral in the feud. And the members of that feuding group? Whew! Over the top hilarious. I really took to Finn, but Callie wasn’t an instant sell. I liked a lot about her and respected her for the job she did in the Army, but she lets her fear that she’ll be like her flighty mom and sister get the better of her and made me get impatient with an otherwise sensible woman (which isn’t really fair to her since the whole story took place in a few weeks’ time frame). Intellectually, she knew she had a good deal and it was the real goods, but she was afraid to believe. Finn had his own trust issues after a woman used him and made a fool out of him, but he was able to push that aside and not let it rule him. I enjoyed the introduction near the end to the hero of the next book too.

As a holiday read, this one is filled to the brim of homey Holiday goodness. It has a bit of a fairytale quality to it or Christmas magic if you will. This put together family just keeps growing and adding as they enjoy the holiday activities and festivities together.

All in all, it was a slightly spicy holiday, small town cowboy contemporary romance that I would recommend to those who enjoy slow pace feel good reading.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Carolyn Brown

Hi! I’m twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can’t trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who’ve made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He’s even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!

Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio’s box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.

I love writing romance because it’s about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn’t changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter… all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I’ve touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.

I got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it’s brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list. In 1997 Kensington bought two books for their Precious Gems line. Two years and six books later the line died with only four of those books seeing publication. But by then Avalon had bought a book and another, and another. Ten years later the list has grown to thirty nine. Last year Sourcebooks bought the Lucky Series which is in the bookstores now. They’ve also bought The Honky Tonk Series which will debut with I LOVE THIS BAR in June and will be followed by HELL, YEAH, MY GIVE A DAMN’S BUSTED, and HONKY TONK CHRISTMAS.

Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there’s enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I’m writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I’m telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!

I have a wonderful agent, Erin Niumata, who continues to work magic and sell my work. I’m very lucky to have her and my editors who continue to believe in me.

Happy reading!

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.


    1. Oh my glands! Joe is a hoot. I wish the sniper skill played a part, but it was only how they met and got to know each other. But still, he’s wonderful as a cowboy. 😉

  1. Oh boy!!! I think you convinced me to try this author out!!! I love small town romances, and with a author that knows the lifestyle….I am all over that!! LOL Especially with it being around the holidays…I will have to get this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one.

    1. I’m glad to introduce you to a book you’re excited about. It was all sorts of goodies. I can hear the accent just by reading the words and I can picture myself on a ranch with people who work a ranch. There’s hilarity too with the animals and improbably feud. So fun!

    1. I like the change of pace between others too. And this cover is totally pet-able. Which book do you have? Is it the second one to this series, Trouble With Cowboys? I have that one too.