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Title: Texas Christmas
Author: Nancy Robards Thompson
May Contain Spoilers
Busted! When Pepper Merriweather’s superwealthy daddy is arrested for fraud—and the family fortune is kaput—just before the holidays, Pepper suddenly finds herself in need of a job. Despite her high-society connections, no one wants to give her a chance—no one except gorgeous billionaire recluse Robert Macintyre.
When he proposes a position that comes with more strings attached than a symphony orchestra, Pepper knows it’s an offer she should refuse. But beggars can’t be choosers. Besides, Pepper knows she has what it takes to rise to the challenge—but does she have what it takes to keep her hands off her irresistible new boss?
On a recent outing to the library, I caught sight of Texas Christmas. The cover totally sucked me in; how could I resist that oh so sexy cowboy and the horses? This cover is like a dream date for me – the ultimate date would be going riding with some hot dude who likes animals, especially horses, and would actually go on a ride with me. Sigh. Sadly, this scene is not in the book. The protagonist, Pepper, doesn’t like horses, and hasn’t since an accident when she was a child. So, no trail riding with a super sexy cowboy is in this story.
Pepper Merriweather is reeling from her father’s arrest. He’s been accused of defrauding investors of millions, and suddenly, Pepper is facing a very ugly future. Raised in wealth, she is now scrambling to find a job. With her father’s face in the papers, it’s getting harder and harder to find the strength to move on with her life. Everyone is placing blame on her, even though she never worked at her father’s company. I thought this was especially unfair, because her father wouldn’t have anything to do with her. They hadn’t spoken in years, and he refused to allow her to visit him in prison. So Pepper is basically taking heat for a jerk of father who hasn’t been part of her life in forever.
Pepper meets billionaire Robert Macintyre on a flight home from Paris, where she and her mother have been hiding from the press. He’s a nice guy, and Pepper’s grateful that he doesn’t mention her father and his alleged crimes even once. After rescuing her from a very angry drunk who confronts her in the airport, Rob gives her a lift home. After a steamy kiss, the two part ways, seemingly for good. However, when Pepper’s good friend insists that Rob hire her, or she won’t make a donation for the children’s hospital he wants to build, Rob and Pepper find themselves together again. Add in a massive amount of guilt on Pepper’s part, and you have a slow to burn romance.
When Pepper was a young girl, she and her brother were involved in an accident, and Pepper never forgave herself for it. She isn’t ready to allow someone else to love her, either. Just look at her father, who can’t find it in himself to forgive her. How can she allow Rob and his young son to get close to her, when all she does is hurt people? While I found this conflict compelling, I felt that it was resolved too easily. The pacing of this book felt so off to me, and it hindered my enjoyment of the story. Pepper and Rob meet early in the book, and then don’t get together again until about 130 pages later. That didn’t leave enough page time for their romance to convincingly develop. Instead, the focus of the story is on Pepper dealing with fallout from her father’s crimes, and Rob trying to fund the hospital expansion. There just wasn’t enough romance to satisfy me, and I was left wanting more.
Review copy obtained from my local library