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Book Review: Smokin’ Hot Cowboy Christmas, by Kim Redford

I won a copy of Smokin’ Hot Cowboy Christmas, by Kim Redford last year, but never got around to read it. I read it this year as part of my Christmas Reading Challenge.

smokin' hot cowboy Christmas

It’s been one fiasco after another for newcomer Belle Tarleton since she began trying to turn her ranch into an arts center. Local workers seem determined to ruin her Christmas party plans, and she hopes bringing in down-on-his-luck Rowdy Holloway to help with renovations will get things back on track.

Rowdy is the unluckiest cowboy in the whole of Wildcat Bluff County, Texas, and things are not improving this holiday season. Sure, he’s the object of many local women’s drool-worthy fantasies, but the town has decided he’s the man who should stop Belle’s renovation plans.

It started as a simple mission, but now Rowdy’s so twisted up he doesn’t know whose side he’s on. With only days until Christmas, Rowdy and Belle need to tap into their fiery personalities and off-the-charts chemistry if they’re ever going to find a way to thaw the ice on this reluctant town’s heart.

my review

This is a spoilery, ranty, ragey, hate review in which I drop a lot of F-bombs. Be warned.

Whenever I’m reviewing a book that isn’t really in a genre I tend toward I usually still try to be objective. What doesn’t work for me usually does work for someone else and my not liking it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad book. Cowboy Romances is one of those genres. I just don’t understand the emotional impact I’m supposed to feel by being reminded someone isn’t just a volunteer fireman, but a cowboy volunteer fireman; not just a businesswoman, but a cowgirl business woman, ad infinitum. Why is that so much better? Why is that anything more than an extra noun—annoyingly used as an adjective—in the middle of too many sentences?

So, I went in to Smokin’ Hot Cowboy Christmas knowing it wasn’t really going to be my cup of tea, but wanting to read it all the same. (I’m doing a Christmas reading challenge that it is part of.) I’d planned to be open to it though. But the reality is that I so disliked the book, in general, that I don’t even know that I can be objective about it. I hated this thing! First off, that description is BARELY accurate. It’s damn near a lie, honestly. But that’s a small thing in the grand scheme of things.

The main issue is that I found no romance in this. All I saw was a wide-spread con and it’s victim. All I recognized was a supposed redemption arc that somehow forgot the redemption part of the plan. If I were to title this review, it would be Fuck Those People, Fuck Every Single One Of Them.

Rowdy and others say over and over again during this book that he’s the unluckiest cowboy in the county. I very quickly realized he wasn’t unlucky, he’s just an asshole. And that was when he was simply lying and trying to sabotage Belle’s business venture to drive her out of town. Then he started sleeping with her, while still actively lying and sabotaging her business, and I thought, “Oh, he’s a huge asshole.” Then he told her he loved her and let her love him in return (while still not stopping the ruse) and I went, “Oh, he’s a supreme asshole.” Fuck that guy, just fuck him!

He was supposed to be all conflicted, but no one forced him. He could have stopped at any point and chose not to, over and over and over again. Fuck Him. He wasn’t in a “pickle” or a “bind” or “between a rock and a hard place.” He made choices. At one point he and the other council members were like, “This isn’t who we are.” And I just went, “Well, it very obviously is, since it’s what you very clearly did and continued to do.”

And this cockamamie plan of the town council made no sense at all, anyhow. No one appeared to have ever actually spoken to Belle about the plans they were trying to derail. No one really knew what her business goals even were. So, the drastic lengths they were trying to go to were just stupid. Fuck them all!

Then, after 360 pages of faffing about there is about a page of apology (not from Rowdy, I might add) that goes like this:

What we did was wrong. As a community, we apologize. We’re here to roof your house as a way of making amends and asking you to stay…Nothing is ever too little too late when so much is at stake. Our county needs you. We need you. We need your smarts, your drive, your vision…and your love.

So, that comes down to We tried to drive you out of town, but we realize we need you now. So please forgive us so we can use you. Fuck Every Single One Of Them! Repeatedly.

And she does. The true depths of the betrayal is never truly addressed. Redford seriously let Rowdy and the county off with inferences and suggestions. And Belle still instantly forgives them. You know what, fuck her too. Not really, she doesn’t deserve it. But fuck Redford for giving me a heroine who can get royally and knowingly screwed over by an entire county and shrug it off as unimportant. Talk about a milksop! It absolutely undermined the whole rest of the book that Redford spent telling us how independent and self-assured Belle was. Apparently she’s willing to be a complete doormat. Fuck that too.

Then there was the utterly farcical side gambit with the missing cow. The cow that was eventually found in what should have been the first place they looked, not the last. It was just annoying as hell. The humor fell completely flat. And the question of the all important roof that the town showed up to repair as their big act of apology and redemption? Well, it wasn’t roofed in the first place because of them. It no longer mattered if it got roofed at all, because they’d already forced her to miss the deadline she was working toward. And if the task was such that the town could simply come together to do it, I have to wonder why the cowboys who worked Belle’s ranch couldn’t simply have been assigned the work at any point in the book.

Speaking of cowboys…the whole mythos of the cowboy that is invoked 14 million times in this book…no one actually is. They’re ranchers who hire people to work their ranches. Those are cowboys. The character in this book are Boss Hogs. They’re the owners who hire cowboys. Fuck Every One Of Those Fat Cats for pretending to be blue collar men and women too.

I hated this book. I could spend half the afternoon telling you all the other ways I hated it. But just know I hated it. Not because I don’t like Cowboy Romance or Christmas books or Western settings. Not because of the writing, which was fine (even if the inconsistencies were annoying—people wearing stocking taking off their jeans or people wearing sweat suits unsnapping their shirt, etc) but because the story is horrible. Fuck those people, every single one of them!

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Other Reviews:


Be sure to come back tomorrow. I’ll be reviewing Where We Begin, by Janey King.

His Reluctant Cowboy

Book Review of His Reluctant Cowboy, by A.D. Ellis

I received an Audible code for a review copy of His Reluctant Cowboy, by A.D. Ellis.

Description from Goodreads:

Out-and-proud volunteer dance instructor, Reid Alexander, is a California boy accustomed to living in flashy luxury. He is less than thrilled upon inheriting his late grandfather’s South Dakota horse ranch. Yet, he must endure three months of cowboy hell before he can even consider selling the property. As the ranch foreman, Walker Corrigan’s entire life is Pine Ridge. When Reid arrives with cold-hearted plans to sell, Walker endeavors to endear the place to the younger man. 

Reid is unprepared for the sudden attachment to Walker, the land, and – unbelievably enough – the horses. 

Walker’s long-suffering heart takes an unexpected gallop straight toward Reid. Both men are on-board with exploring their relationship, and Reid discovers ranch ownership is more gratifying than he’d once imagined. But Reid is forced to reconsider his place on the ranch when threats put the property and employees in danger. 

Menacing events call Reid’s integrity into question, and he considers saving everyone the hassle and throwing in the reins. But how can he leave when his heart now feels at home on Pine Ridge Ranch and in Walker’s arms? 


I’m in an awkward position reviewing this book. I received an Audible credit for it in exchange for an honest review. However, the credit came from the narrator, Brad King, (not the author) and the narrator did an awesome job. But the story didn’t work for me. What do you do in that case? I guess you say just that, huh? King’s narration is very good. Ellis’ story left me cold. 

I disliked Reid in the beginning. But even after he gave up being a brat and became tolerable I was troubled. His growth came in jagged spurts, and nothing about it felt very natural. The romance was sudden and felt very much like the only two adult gay men on the ranch fell in love because they were the only gay men on the ranch. There was no gradual growth or anything like that. And as soon as the two men were together they were suddenly in love, declaring forever, and calling each other Baby. I thought the dirty talk during sex was super cheesy (King deserves some props for pulling that off with aplomb). And I almost went ragey with the way it had to be stressed (more than once) that the love between Walker and Reid was better than the love Walker had with his dead partner. That just was not necessary and was tacky to boot. The villain was practically a joke and the resolution came about because of a very convenient coincidence. Plus, I hate the cover. There I said it. 

All in all, not a winner for me in the story department. But again, great narration. My dislike is for the book.



Bull Review of Bullheaded, by Catt Ford

I bought a copy of Catt Ford‘s Bullheaded.

Description from Goodreads:
Aging bull rider Cody Grainger needs bullfighter Johnny Arrow for more than just protection in the ring. Their bond of trust goes beyond the professional and into love, but while their relationship holds up to the need for discretion imposed by their sport and repeatedly having to watch each other put themselves in the way of dangerous animals, other barriers still tear them apart.

For one thing, Cody is ten years older than Johnny. But instead of contemplating retirement, he focuses on winning the championship, desperate to stay on top. Johnny is only beginning to find the professional recognition he craves. When frustration leads Johnny to walk away, Cody’s season slumps. While they’re apart, they both slowly realize they are meant to be together. But machismo abounds in the sport of bull riding, and their pride might be an obstacle too big for love to overcome.

I was really looking forward to reading this. I went to my first real rodeo this summer and it made for the perfect backdrop for this book. For sure I could hear the announcer clear as day. However, despite that, the book wasn’t a winner for me. Starting on about page 30 I was just frustrated with it the whole time.

For one, there is just too much sex. I’m not a prude. I like a good sex scene or three. But this book just about literally has one every ten pages like clockwork. It’s a 320 page book! The sex definitely got in the way of the plot, cluttered up the narrative and just go old.

What’s more, a lot of that sex was actually when the two men were broken up. So, it’s not even meaningful sex. It’s fucking filler. Yes, the men were supposed to be learning life lessons because of it. But I didn’t need every rest-stop hookup and angry anonymous blow job to see this. What’s worse, it made Cody look like a total douche, the way he treated his partners. And trust me, Cody didn’t need to be made to look like more of an ass. He’s a large part of why I disliked the book.

Cody was arrogant, smug and cocky. Johnny left him for legitimate reasons, Cody (at 32) seemed too self-obsessed to understand why, and this never changed. Johnny, the more mature to start with showed growth, Cody did not. He just got his was as always and the author pretended it was a happy ending.

And here-in lies my bigger issue. Johnny left because Cody made everything about himself. He couldn’t separate what was good for himself from what was good for anyone else. Then, Johnny came back to Cody because Cody needed him. Making it all about Cody again and pretending there had been some growth that there hadn’t actually been. Johnny even said, “You’ve changed,” to Cody. But I saw no evidence of this. Cody never said or did anything that made me think he was any different than when the book started. Thus, I finished the book frustrated and angry.

I didn’t understand why Johnny was with Cody to start with. They had no relationship outside of explosive sex and they were supposed to have been together for two years. Two years and Cody is such an narcissist he literally never asked Johnny Arrow what his real name is, his coming out story, what his tattoo means, etc.

Then there were all the repeat conversations. I think there must have been fifteen versions of “When you retire…” “But I don’t want to retire…” “When you retire…” “But I don’t want to retire…” Then there were all the conversations about these conversations. No, I was bored with it.

All in all, this was not a fun read for me. I finished it through force of will and nostalgia from see my first rodeo in…..Cody, Wyoming.