cover image Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms

Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms

Leigh Greenwood et al. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (512p) ISBN 978-1-4926-5677-7

Greenwood takes top billing in a collection of six flimsy stories in which cowboys and pioneer women seek their soulmates against the backdrop of Christmas. In “Father Christmas,” the strongest of the collection, Greenwood introduces readers to Joe Ryan, who is determined to find the gold his mining partner, Pete, stole before Joe went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Surprised to only find Pete’s young daughter and his heavily pregnant and ill widow isolated on a poorly kept farm, he settles in to see them safely through Christmas, unsurprisingly gifting himself with a new family. Most of the tales suffer from a lack of character development, particularly Anna Schmidt’s “A Christmas Baby,” which recounts Louisa’s determination to get her family to accept her marriage to Rico, a Mexican-American ranch hand. Louisa and Rico share so little conversation that it’s impossible to discern their love connection. Fans of Rosanne Bittner’s Outlaw Hearts series get a glimpse of the Harkner family in “A Chick-a-Dee Christmas,” which benefits from significant backstory. Character development, plot, and dialogue all fall by the wayside in these Christmas clunkers. (Oct.)