|Kathleen Eagle’s stories are generally filled with fun, romance and a little bit of angst. This one has some of the elements but I felt like I was missing some of the backstory. Still, One Cowboy, One Christmas is an enjoyable story.
Zach Beaudry is banged up and his car Zelda is in even worse shape. He is bound and determined to get to warm weather and Texas. Unfortunately, Zelda has another idea. She conks out on him and he has to walk in the freezing cold with a bad hip. He literally falls onto the front porch of the house he saw in the distance. Ann Drexler is a schoolteacher and part-time rancher. Her sister, Sally, who is suffering from MS and her aged ranch foreman, Hoolie, are keeping the ranch going. They run some cattle but the primary emphasis is on wild mustangs. They have a contract to provide sanctuary and they just love these horses. Sadly, the money is short and help is generally volunteer or from some of Ann’s students.
Ann can’t believe her eyes when she sees Zach on her porch. Several years ago, when she was heavier and not attractive at all, she went with Sally to a rodeo and dance. Zach was the cowboy who danced with her and with whom she shared her first night of lovemaking. Unfortunately, Zach was drunk and it was not very memorable for Ann. She is mortified that Zach will remember yet she has to take him in since leaving him on the porch would mean he would literally freeze to death.
Zach doesn’t remember Ann, but he is attracted to her and something about Ann reminds him of someone. He agrees to stay on and help on the ranch in exchange for Hoolie fixing his car. He also agrees to help one of Ann’s students. Kevin is a generally good kid, but his single mother is struggling with keeping him in school and out of trouble. Zach agrees to rein herd on the kid since he has to work on the ranch anyway.
As one can imagine, Zach and Ann still feel the attraction and when Ann shares their past with Zach, he is determined to make it up to her. Passing out on her in the front seat of a car was never his style and he is ashamed that he thought so little of her to do that, so he decides he wants to show her the real side of making love. When his feelings get involved, he has decisions to make, as does Ann.
The two are compatible and share some interesting scenes together. They banter and move from shyness to bold innuendo within a matter of minutes. But there is something missing. It was never clear what Ann saw in Zach, who is basically a banged-up, almost washed-up rodeo cowboy, who has little to his name and little to show for his hard life. He also has a family history, which is alluded to but never really explained. It is clear that his brother Sam had a story written by Eagle, so much of the backstory may be contained in that. For this reader, however, there were times when I just didn’t understand his motivation and his thinking.
Ann was a little more clear-cut, but even so, there were pieces alluded to but not well explained. It appears that their night together changed Ann’s perspective on life and I inferred that this caused her to lose weight and break out of her shell. Again, this left me feeling that some vital information was missing, lessening my enjoyment.
One Cowboy, One Christmas is not the best of Kathleen Eagle. But due to her talent, it is engaging and worth the time to pick it up.