|Santa in a Stetson is a good book for younger people starting out reading romances. Janet Dailey has been writing a long time and she likes Texas, she enjoys pure romance and she writes tales that warm your heart. This one is no different and despite the title, is a story for any time of year.
Diane Palmer is a local model, wishing for the brighter lights at times, but satisfied that she can make a good living with shoots around Texas. She is 29 and knows her days as a model are limited. She also knows that she wants something more out of her life, yet isn’t quite sure what it is. That is, until she runs into a cowboy at a rodeo that takes her breath away and for whom she feels a spark.
Lije (short for Elijah) Masters is that cowboy. He is a rodeo man even though he too dreams of bigger things. Lije has made a name for himself as a bronc rider and owner of several fine horses. He has land that has been in his family and eventually he wants to make enough to run the spread in New Mexico without the need for the rodeoing that is currently paying the bills. His friend Jim Two Pony operates the ranch while he is away. He is quite taken by Diane, thinking she is one of the most beautiful women he has seen. Yet he senses there is more to her.
They share a whirlwind romance of just a few days and end up deciding to get married. Lije describes his land in such a romantic way, that Diane is certain she will love it, even if her idea of “roughing it” is staying in a bad hotel. Diane grew up in foster homes and yearns for family. Lije grew up in a loving family and wants that for his own life.
Adjustments are the major order of business for Diane when she moves into the rather old-fashioned ranch house on Lije’s ranch. He spends all day trying to make a go of things and she is stuck at the house, bored with nothing to do but clean, clean, read, clean and cook. Even though their love life is solid, not much else is as Diane sinks into a depression. When a friend offers them a car and Lije resents being a “charity case,” their little world starts to unravel.
I enjoyed this on several levels but there were a few things that didn’t go so well with me either. Diane’s depression seems reasonable and yet, Lije doesn’t seem to get it. They take the silent suffering idea a little too far for me. I think they could have resolved their issues way sooner than they did just because they tended to argue and sulk rather than really sit down and talk. Jim Two Pony was a character that never really came alive for me. At first he was sullen and non-communicative, giving Diane the idea that he resented her and disliked her. Then with a little offer of help from her, he turned around and became her champion. That turnaround is a little hard to buy.
There were several things that happened in the story, including the town rallying around them, that seemed a little out of place. There isn’t a lot of background in here about Lije’s relationship with the town, and for the help to come their way so suddenly seemed a little too convenient.
Generally though, this tale is enjoyable and has the right amount of romance and tension. If you are an old fan of Janet Dailey or a new one ready to embrace an author you haven’t read, give Santa in a Stetson a try.