cover image Holding Out for Christmas

Holding Out for Christmas

Janet Dailey. Zebra, $8.99 mass market (400p) ISBN 978-1-4201-5106-0

The cute second romance in Dailey’s Christmas Tree Ranch series (after My Kind of Christmas) follows a formulaic plot but manages to liven things up a bit with Christmas spirit and fascinating supporting characters. Nashville kindergarten teacher and aspiring singer Megan Carson heads to Branding Iron, Tex., for the holidays to visit with her family. Car trouble leads to a meet-cute with former rodeo star Conner Branch, one of the owners of the Christmas Tree Ranch. Though Conner is immediately attracted to Megan, he chooses not to act on their chemistry because he’s pining for Lacy Leatherwood, a country singer who performed at the town’s Christmas ball the year before. As it happens, the other reason Megan’s in town is to perform as Lacy, her heavily disguised alter ego, leading Megan to feel like she’s competing with her more glamorous persona for Conner’s attention. Luckily, Conner’s no dummy and figures out Megan’s secret fairly quickly, making way for less contrived conflict. Though the festive atmosphere and charming cast—Megan’s younger brother, Daniel, who has Down syndrome, is especially well-developed—will draw readers in, many will be disappointed to see that the happy ending requires Megan to compromise far more than Conner does. Despite this stumble, there’s enough charm here to please Dailey’s fans. (Oct.)