An early #blogmas book review | feat. #HarlequinHeartwarming author Cathy McDavid’s “The Cowboy Holiday Bride” (Wishing Well Springs, Book One)

Posted Thursday, 5 November, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#blogmas book review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Cowboy’s Holiday Bride” direct from the author Cathy McDavid in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts –

This year, my showcases for #blogmas started a bit earlier than expected – as I never know which month the Christmas stories will be available to host – as some touring companies set the standard early-on in Autumnal months whilst others leave most of their showcases for November in an early draw for Christmas readers seeking new books to read in December. Each year, I have the tendency of leaving it to chance and to simply enjoy the journey of discovering #newtomeauthors and celebrating new reads by the authors I already know I dearly love to be reading!

Such is the case today – as I came to know the Western Contemporary Romance styling of Ms McDavid through her first series with Harlequin Heartwarming which was the Sweetheart Ranch series which has concluded as a quartet! I was wicked thrilled with the ways in which she gave us a sweet ending to a series which I had truly become attached to reading. It was one of my top favourite series by the Heartwarming line overall and definitely one of my top Western Romance series I’ve been reading for the past several years.

When I first saw this blog tour being adverted I was growing more than a bit giddy about the announcement as I was curious which direction she might take us in next as she endears us to continue our journey into her next series with Heartwarming. Finding out she’s kicking off this new series “Wishing Well Springs” with a Christmas story was brilliant news – as this is how she started off the Sweetheart Ranch series as well. There is something quite special about series which begin at Christmastime and then, carry on through the seasons thereafter, connecting you to their communities, their characters and the writers who are penning them.

This marks my first #ChristmasReads for November but not for 2020 – as that honour went to reading “Christmas in Bayberry” by Jennifer Faye (see also Review) during #ChristmasInJuly. From this moment forward you’ll be seeing me share more posts about what I’m reading for Christmas, which stories/series I’ll be focusing on this year for the Christmas season and how I’m determined to spend quite a heap of time wrapped up in one Classical author’s collective works as a Christmas gift to myself this year. Stay tuned – this is only the early beginnings of my #blogmas posts for 2020!

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My thoughts on how Ms McDavid concluded The Sweetheart Ranch series:

One of the reasons I’ve grown attached to the Sweetheart Ranch series (and the Harlequin Heartwarming line overall) are the realistic story-lines which continuously greet me whenever I make a return visit. What is hard about letting go of this series is the fact once you take up residence inside a series you love reading its hard to simply ‘let go’ and ‘let live’ wherever you last see the characters and where they have gone with their lives. It would be great to re-visit this series again in the future (if the author is inspired to do so) and to rekindle the joy of the Sweetheart Ranch.

Having said that – I loved how this installment focused on some rather difficult topics and remained true to its core about how those who come to the Sweetheart Ranch find a way of renewing their spirits, finding second chances and have taken some unexpected twisted turns to arrive in this small towne and to intersect their path with the Sweetheart Ranch. Some might call that fate but the beauty of the series is how serendipitously McDavid wrote their lives. In particular for this novel – if Carly hadn’t taken a chance to distance herself from her ex, she might not have had the opportunity to run the boutique at the ranch nor to raise her son without the fear of what ‘could’ happen if she had staid with her husband. Percolating in the background of this sweet and idyllic setting are dramatic lives of people who are overcoming their circumstances and finding a true way forward even if the path didn’t feel as assured previously. We all need a bit of hope and encouragement at any given time and the Sweetheart Ranch series feels like such a brilliant lift of joy to be reading.

McDavid also brought in a particular kind of craft Carly could make to turn a profit – I loved the ingenuity of what Carly chose to be a creator of as it ties into her love of the ranch and the lifestyle of a single Mum who lives on a ranch. I felt she had the right kind of instincts you need to make it in this life whilst at the same time, it felt right that she and JD might want to hope for ‘more’ for themselves rather than shortchanging their chances at happiness.

Ooh my goodness! This final installment of the series doesn’t disappoint! I had wished it might have looped back to the beginning a bit – or felt a bit more connected to the previous installments moreso than it had but what I loved about this story is how hopeful McDavid wrote it! She didn’t want you to give up on the hope peeking round the corners of the drama and the angst! And, trust me – there is angst in this novel! For one thing, McDavid truly tapped into the needless trauma self-deserving grandparents can inflict on their divorced daughter-in-laws! I was truly baffled by the lengths they went to deceive and assist someone against Carly! I mean, at some point – why did it take the grandfather to be the voice of reason?

The true heroes of this story are JD, Carly, Hombre and Rickie! Each of them has a reason to take notice of them – from JD whose rectifying where he is with his health and to Carly whose trying to sort out how to live out from under the shadow of her ex and his parents. The growth of the characters is happily in tandem with a sweet and slow romance – as both JD and Carly were unsure how they felt about pursuing any kind of a relationship. These are the kinds of romances I love most – the unexpecting ones and the ones you’re never quite sure how they will resolve until you reach the very last chapter!

-quoted from my book review for Her Cowboy Sweetheart

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An early #blogmas book review | feat. #HarlequinHeartwarming author Cathy McDavid’s “The Cowboy Holiday Bride” (Wishing Well Springs, Book One)The Cowboy's Holiday Bride
by Cathy McDavid, Ms Cathy McDavid
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Changing his heart…

Would be a Christmas miracle!

Cash Montgomery creates Western-themed weddings and knows all about happily-ever-after. In theory. He’s been hurt too many times to think that he could ever be a marrying man. His business partner Phoebe Kellerman doesn’t agree with him—on anything! At Christmas, Cash is visited by three of his past girlfriends…and he begins to see the error of his ways. Will it be before he loses Phoebe, the woman he’s falling for?

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Ranches & Cowboys, Romance Fiction, Western Romance

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1335889942

Also by this author: A Cowboy's Christmas Proposal, The Cowboy's Perfect Match, The Cowboy's Christmas Baby, Her Cowboy Sweetheart (Spotlight w/ Notes), Her Cowboy Sweetheart, A Secret Christmas Wish

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 10th November, 2020

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

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The Wishing Well Springs series:

The Cowboy’s Holiday Bride (book one)

→ forthcoming in 2021: How to Marry a Cowboy (book two)

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Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming,
an imprint of Harlequin Books (@HarlequinBooks)

Formats Available: Ebook and Paperback

Converse via: #Contemporary #WesternRomance & #Harlequin Heartwarming

About Ms Cathy McDavid

Cathy McDavid

In the third grade, NY Times, USA Today and Amazon bestselling author Cathy McDavid made it her goal to read every Black Stallion book ever written. Who knew such an illustrious ambition would eventually lead to a lifelong love of all things western, owning a stagecoach pulled by six mules, and a career writing contemporary romances for Harlequin?

With over 50 titles in print and 1.3 million-plus books sold, Cathy is also a member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll. This “almost” Arizona native and mother of grown twins is married to her own real-life sweetheart.

After leaving the corporate world six years ago, she now spends her days penning stories about good looking cowboys riding the range, busting broncs, and sweeping gals off their feet — oops, no. Make that winning the hearts of feisty, independent women who give the cowboys a run for their money. It's a tough job, but she’s willing to make the sacrifice.

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my review of the cowboy’s holiday bride:

One of the happy discoveries I made very early-on into reading The Cowboy’s Holiday Bride is that Ms McDavid has created a new wedding venue series – as I had a feeling she might return to this kind of storytelling. It was a refreshing surprise finding Wishing Well Springs is quite similar to Sweetheart Ranch! Especially on the level of how the land, the ranch and the usage of the grounds for weddings and events is what is providing a way for the family who owns the property to keep the land in the family. There was a slight mention of how most of the land was lost to the family and how this small bit which is leftover is what has kept a part of their legacy intact. I could sympathise with them – whenever you lose something this important to you, it is hard to reconcile moving forward. It felt like there was a lot riding on the success of Wishing Well Springs as much as the tender balance within the partnership – as two siblings owned the ranch itself whilst they had a third partner who was meant to be equal to their shares of the business. And, that is where you find the first bout of conflict erupting between Cash and Phoebe as Cash had overridden Phoebe’s ability to be an equal partner when he made a choice about the business with his sister Laurel.

What was more interesting though is how much Cash was only interested in the business side of the wedding venue rather than focusing on the needs of the clients. You can tell this quickly was taking a toll on Phoebe’s resolve because she was dealing with a bull-headed bloke who wasn’t quite as clued into the wedding industry as he presumed! He was more interested in dollars and cents than he was in people’s lives – as Phoebe explained it brilliantly herself – they weren’t there to judge the choices of their clients’ they were meant to encourage them on their journey towards having a wedding of their dreams. The key being the weddings they hosted were the clients’ dreams not their own.

You could tell Cash lived up well to his name – as he truly didn’t see much past sorting out the bottom-line in his life – from his career at a firm out of towne to his role at Wishing Well Springs overseeing the finances. He was definitely more oriented in the fiances moreso than he was in having the people skills necessary to deal with the general public. There were a few moments where you could feel the despair of Phoebe who was not used to feeling taxed and stressed when she met with the clients they served but when you put Cash in the meetings, everything becomes upturnt because his focus tends to lean on the wrong side of their immediate priorities with the clients’ themselves. It was an interesting dynamic to oversee – how Phoebe was trying to train Cash to look outside the cashbox and to see the people they were helping to wed rather than to have him continue to only see the business from a bookkeeping perspective.

Phoebe had a way of getting to Cash’s heart – even when she wasn’t expecting anything more than his gruffness to re-rear itself into her orbit. He had a way of setting off her buttons and of getting on the wrong side of her day; until of course, she found sometimes you can get Cash focused on something other than himself. In those moments, Cash seemed different somehow – because he wasn’t focusing on budgets or his own goals but he was honestly trying to put others ahead of himself which I think he should try to do more often as it suited him better. He just didn’t have it in him to pull off the detached person he was always attempting to be just because he was burnt a few times in romance. I think his greater battle was finding his own sense of happiness despite the failures in his past and the fact he hadn’t resolved the issues he had had in finding someone to share his life with over the years. He had some failed relationships, same as Phoebe but he seemed to hold onto them a bit harder than she did herself.

Yet it wasn’t just the relationships of the past affecting Cash – it was his own family’s history and what happened with his parents which stung his heart the most. It was touching how McDavid was giving Phoebe a chance to speak to Cash about the past – of how he might have had the wrong perspective at the time to understand his parents’ choices and the reasons behind their actions at the time everything started to collapse for them. The Cash of today sees everything in black and white details – no room for errors or for circumstances as Phoebe thankfully mentioned being out of control of the person living through them. He only saw what he wanted to see and he held no mercy in his judgement of his parents either – which was a bit hard to read because you would have felt more time might have softened his anger and his inability to consider the angst his parents had gone through themselves. This was a side of him that was rough round the edges and only Phoebe seemed to understand him even when she was disagreeing with him.

One key disclosure in the story is about communication – in fact, you can start to see how this is a major part of the story very early-on in the opening chapters – as for different reasons, different characters have different issues with communicating with each other. However, the main thread of issue with communication is what can be behind a failed relationship – of how, if you’re unable to share your own thoughts and feelings how that isn’t the best way to build a foundation of trust with the person your trying to build a life with together. I felt it was a well-timed lesson to explore – as communication is integral to so much of our lives, not just for relationships but how communicating well is important even in our own communities. Or to put it a different way – the only way to end the division amongst us is to find better ways to communicate and find common ground with each other. That is something that is important in romantic and non-romantic relationships as much as in the world of business where how your perceived is just as key as to how well you can run a company.

When Phoebe and Cash started to get down to specifics – in regards to where they were aligned and what was separating them from pursuing a relationship, part of me felt they shouldn’t try to pursue each other at all anymore. The main fault with Cash is that he is too absolute – he wants everything to be ‘neat and tidy’ to the point that if anything falls short of his ideal situations, he cannot find happiness in the moment or in the rest of what he is doing. He has very exacting needs and wants especially as it relates to finance and relationships; though as Phoebe kindly points out, not everything in life can be bolted down the ways in which Cash would prefer them. For me, I saw so many warnings signs in their fractured attempts to see if their friendship could develop into a relationship and those warnings signs didn’t diminish even though McDavid was trying to show how two oppositional personalities might make a go of uniting together. For me, I simply wasn’t convinced because there were deeply rooted beliefs in Cash’s mind and heart about what breaks a relationship and what de-voids love from the relationship.

I think the better thing might have been to suggest Cash went into therapy to work through his thoughts and feelings about the choices his grandparents and parents had made in their own marriages because the scars and wounds of those choices were now affecting his own life. He couldn’t shake the past but it was the past which was overshadowing his present. It is one of those few times where I’m reading a romance and I find myself not wanting to find a match between the two lead characters because for me the case was proven they weren’t meant to be together. I was a bit disappointed in some regards because I think this story needed more time to resolve – although, I commend McDavid for writing in the latter chapters which show Cash focusing more on himself, I think I needed a bit more proof that he was dedicated to evolving into the person he is at the end of the story vs the person he was for the majority of it. I just felt it was wrapped up a bit too quickly and that those key issues that Phoebe was noticing about his character might come back to haunt them in the future.

on the western romantic styling of cathy mcdavid:

McDavid has the knack for creating Western ranches and wedding venues with the care and concern of those who work there whose main goals are to celebrate the couples to whom they are serving. McDavid you can tell loves these kinds of settings and again, it did not surprise me that two of her series now (which I’ve happily read) with Heartwarming are focusing on this kind of business and are equally set in smaller townes which can thrive on the kind of traffic and business these endeavours can give the local community.

In this new series, she has set the stage for an interesting collection of stories – as at the heart of the Wishing Well Springs wedding venue is one sister trying to assert herself out of the shadows of her sisters (ie. Laurel), a retired rodeo cowboy whose trying to re-define himself and his life (ie. Cash) and a woman who is in love with the joy of hosting weddings and other events with the dedication of someone who isn’t used to being limited to budget (ie. Phoebe). Each of them have their own bit of baggage they are carrying into the business too – as I thought it was interesting how McDavid created this series rooted out of the fact none of the business owners and partners are happily settled in matrimony themselves!

I felt this provided just the right amount of irony for the series – how they can plan and produce weddings but they cannot find that kind of sweetened harmonic happiness in their own lives which they regularly give to their clients. There is a lot of tongue-in-cheek moments between Phoebe and Cash – where they are each not necessarily willing to compromise with the other but where they get into bouts of arguments where you can tell neither one minds being the one to compromise in the end. You can see how they are simply two persons who never fully gave each other the time or inclination to pursue romantically and in that kind of way, the set-up McDavid has provided for the backdrop of this novel is apt fodder for a romance reader to soak inside because of the drama it organically brings into the story-line.

After reading the novel though I am on the fence about how I feel about the ending – although, there was resolution and restitution in regards to Cash’s issues in both communication and the issues he has with relationships, I felt there was still more work to be had in how he can improve his future by the work he needed to still resolve out of his past. He had such a lot of emotional and psychological baggage that for me, I felt his story might have been better served over two stories rather than one as he just felt like a work-in-progress to me rather than a polished stone by the end of the novel.

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This book review is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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The Cowoboy's Holiday Bride blog tour banner provided by Prism Book Tours and is used with permission.

End of the Blog Tour badged provided by Prism Book ToursBy clicking this badge you will find the blog tour route where my fellow book bloggers are sharing their honest thoughts & impressions about the book as well as other lovely posts connected to the story and the author. There is also a bookaway attached to the tour – be sure to take a moment to visit the tour’s schedule for full details.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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This book review is part of my #blogmas featured posts this year.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Cowboy’s Holiday Bride”, synopsis and biography of the author Cathy McDavid as well as the blog tour banner and The Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #blogmas book review banner, #blogmas badge and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 5 November, 2020 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Christmas Romance &/or Holiday Story, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Western Fiction, Cowboys & Ranches, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Western Fiction, Western Romance

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