Acquired Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists. 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 “A Secret Christmas Wish” direct from the author Cathy McDavid in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts –
As I’ve eluded over the past several seasons of 2021 – my life has been a bit upturnt throughout the year as I’ve returnt to work full-time whilst at the latter half of October, I took-on a secondary job in combination with my first job. I began working three nights per week which is now expanding into four nights per week – blessedly, I love my work environment and my co-workers (in both jobs!) which makes the transitions and learning curves at both quite the blessing. However, in recent weeks and months, my family and I have been going through different bouts of difficulties whilst more immediately to this blog tour – I just came off a hard batch of hours (wherein my family was dealing with quite a heap in a short period of time) whilst nursing a bad migraine over the weekend which extended a bit into the early bits of this week.
I know this time round it was caused by an increase of stress and a few blog tours have been affected recently by events IRL which have taken my focus away from reading. Which is why I wasn’t able to read too far afield into this story right now and decided to cut my review back into a preview spotlight post rather than stress myself further and cause further delays as this was one of those migraines which didn’t let me read too much until it cleared and then, of course, I was greeting my tour deadline! Oy.
This is a series I ‘met’ last November, as an early #blogmas treat – as I have quite the affinity for Christmas Romances (Contemporary or Historical) and Western Christmas Romances are even more brilliant as I love tucking into Western Roms. Previously I read her other series the Sweetheart Ranch!
Most especially if you’ve been visiting with me the past several years whilst I’ve become introduced to Harlequin Heartwarming and their lovely authors who keep writing series I cannot put down and eagerly await new installments. Of course, once they run their course, its even harder to put them down and step away from those characters and settings – but that gives me the joy of knowing another series or story is just round the corner from a favourite Heartwarming author.
This time round, I seem to have misplaced the sequencing of order with this series – as another story was published in the Spring of 2021 ahead of this third release. I knew about it last year, but of course – that has felt like a million miles away as honestly, if I were to contemplate how last November folded into this November, it would feel impossible that a year blinked past me! I still lament despite the medical emergencies of my parents last year where I was revolving through the ER like it was all the fashion to do so during a global pandemic – this year in particular has felt harder somehow and much more intense – isn’t that ironic?
I’ll have to gather a copy of the second novel at some point and properly bring myself current with this series. For now, I look forward to reading this novel in full but ahead of that – I wanted to share my initial thoughts and impressions about “A Secret Christmas Wish” for this lovely blog tour which is meant to inspire all of us to pick up our Christmas Romances now that Autumn has finally gripped our hearts and our weather. Wells, for some of us – Autumn still feels like a dream awaiting to arrive as its just not quite cold enough for sweaters but there is the hope of it on the horizon!
The magic of Christmas
Could make her wish come true!
A small-town Christmas wedding. What could be more romantic? Unless you’re a plus-one for hire like single mom Maia MacKenzie. Too bad handsome cowboy Brent Hayes is her new coworker—and completely off-limits! Neither of them can afford to lose their job…or invest in a relationship. But when she sees Brent’s adorable connection with her young son, Maia can’t help wishing for a Christmas miracle.
Places to find the book:
Also by this author: The Cowboy's Holiday Bride
Published by Harlequin Heartwarming
on 26th October, 2021
The Wishing Well Springs series:
The Cowboy’s Holiday Bride (book one) : (see also Review)
My impressions about how this series first began:
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.
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.
-quoted from my book review for The Cowboy’s Holiday Bride
How to Marry a Cowboy (book two)
A Secret Christmas Wish (book three)
Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming,
an imprint of Harlequin Books (@HarlequinBooks)
Formats Available: Ebook and Paperback
Converse via: #Contemporary #WesternRomance & #Harlequin Heartwarming