This is my post during the blog tour for The Cowboy’s Christmas Retreat by Catherine Mann. In The Cowboy’s Christmas Retreat, a Rodeo champ is jilted at the altar and takes his best friend and her son on his honeymoon to the Top Dog Dude Ranch.
**It’s the second book in the Top Dog Dude Ranch series, but can be read as a standalone.
Keep reading for a special giveaway being held for The Cowboy’s Christmas Retreat’s release!
Disclosure: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion. A positive review is not required.
Published on: 01 November 2021
Published by: Harlequin Special Edition; Original edition
Type: standalone, series
Genre: Small Town Romance, Holiday Romance, Western Romance, Contemporary Romance
Author: Catherine Mann
Page Length: 288 pages
Read: 15 October 2021
Shelved: 18 October 2021
Rating: 3 / 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐
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His love life has gone to the dogs—in the best of ways in USA TODAY bestselling author Catherine Mann’s latest book in the Top Dog Dude Ranch series!
After they’ve opened gifts
Maybe he’ll unwrap her heart.
Instead of his winter wonderland wedding, Riley Stewart has been jilted. This rodeo champ needs an understanding shoulder, so Riley invites his best friend, Lucy Snyder, her son and their scruffy pooch on his “honeymoon.” But moonlit doggy walks, romantic fires, the glow of Christmas lights—everything is conspiring against their “just friends” resolve. Will this fake honeymoon ignite the real spark Riley and Lucy have denied for so long?
From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.
About the Top Dog Dude Ranch series
Welcome to Moonlight Ridge, Tennessee, home to the Top Dog Dude Ranch, renowned for family-friendly rustic retreats that heal broken hearts. Some say it’s the majestic mountain vistas. Others vow there’s magic in the hot springs. All agree, there’s something special about the four-legged creatures at the Top Dog Dude Ranch that give guests a “new leash on love.”
Last-Chance Marriage Rescue(Top Dog Dude Ranch #1) by Catherine Mann
“They’re about to step into a parent trap of their twins’ making!”
Support local bookstores! Get your copy at Books a Million
Lucy Snyder is a divorcee, a single parent to George, her son from her first marriage, and a fur-mommy to Pickles. Her failed marriage made her question her judgment to jump into any relationship besides friendship. The only thing that makes her have any relationship is her friendship with Riley, who has been her rock and supporter since they were both in middle grade.
Riley Stewart wants to settle down. He’s been traveling on the rodeo circuit and has been wanting to “settle” soon. He’s already started to look for properties for a potential business and is planning to move from city to country-side soon. He is recently engaged and is excited about all the settling prospects in the works. His only hesitation is leaving his childhood best friend, Lucy, to pursue “again” his dreams. (Hint: there’s a heavy yet beautiful backstory on this.)
The Cowboy’s Christmas Retreat is a first-person, from both Riley’s and Lucy’s POV. It is written well and is true to the Harlequin Romance of sweet, undeniable love with a bit of complication to add spice to the storyline.
- Warm and cozy book tone. Plus, the fact that most of the scenes are in a retreat adds to its calmness of the mood. It gives me the “Silent Night” feels of an animal nativity scene peppered with a Jingle Bells Rock of line dancing moments.
- A great Christmas read to place readers through the holiday feels with the many festive activities partaken by the characters.
- I love second chance/redemption books that this book has in full blast, especially when both main characters are finally “on the same life stage” to be there for each other. Both are finally single, though not yet ready to be in a relationship at the start.
- I appreciated the story not being an “insta-love” approach. Instead, Lucy’s and Riley’s long-term friendship becomes the foundation that brought genuine healing and authenticity.
- The story’s build-up was slower than expected due to so many internal conflicts for both main characters. Although Lucy and Riley mentioned many repetitive details on taking their relationship beyond friendship, the author reminds readers that these characters’ flaws still need to be “worked on.” It was realistic with the slow-burning pace.
- I had trouble connecting or caring for the characters. Initially, I got excited about how flawed Lucy and Riley were. They made me want to unravel them and understand them, BUT I found their unresolved and traumatic troubled pasts came up too often that it felt repetitive. Granted that these issues were “not resolved,” I would have appreciated if the author mentioned that either character sought external help or anyone mentioned this since many “red flags” signaled this need.
- Cheated partners get mentioned often, and the other appearing to cause doubt and frustration. Note: Some readers might not see this coming into the scenes. BUT, there surely wouldn’t be a story without these characters who hurt the main characters. I have an issue with an ex-partner’s reactions, which didn’t seem realistic to me. Granted that his particular partner was “in the wrongs,” but after what one of the main characters said…the reaction was too calm and “controlled.” There were no rebuffs or drama when the main character confessed the truth to the ex-partner, and then, this ex-partner, of two years, left quietly.
Overall, The Cowboy’s Christmas Retreat is a light and easy-going read with minimal conflicts. This book came at a perfect time – just when I wanted an escapism book. The pace in some parts was slower than I was used to, and the “push-pull” moments were not to my liking, BUT I understood the author’s purpose for this. The heavier pace moments balance the internal conflict between Lucy and Riley. These conflicts became barriers in having Lucy and Riley progressing and helping each other until the last few chapter or two. I think I’ve been out of the sweet romance genre for too long. This book is something I would recommend to a reader who loves second chances, single-parent tropes, pet-lovers, and Harlequin romance reader fans.
About the Author
Catherine Mann, USA Today bestseller, writes contemporary romance for Harlequin, Tule, Berkley, and Sourcebooks. With over seventy-five books released in more than twenty countries, she has won a RITA Award, the Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Bookseller’s Best Award. She’s also celebrated six RITA finals, an RT Reviewer’s Award finalist, three Maggie Award of Excellence finals and a Bookseller’s Best win.
A former theater school director and university instructor, she holds a Master’s degree in Theater from UNC-Greensboro and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts: Theater (with minors in both English and Education) from the College of Charleston.
After years moving around the country bringing up four children, Catherine has settled in her home state of South Carolina. The nest didn’t stay empty long though as Catherine is active in animal rescue, and also volunteers with area service dog and pet therapy organizations. Catherine enjoys hearing from her readers and can be found online frequently through Facebook. She can also be reached via mail at: PO Box 290762, Columbia SC 29229. (For a free bookmark, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.)
** GIVEAWAY ALERT **
In celebration of the release of The Cowboy’s Christmas Retreat – a tour wide blog tour giveaway is being run!
Three winners win a copy of Last Chance Marriage Rescue (Top Dog #1) with a PAW-tograph (autograph) from the author’s dog Biscuit. – US Only.
This giveaway is open to US residents only. The giveaway ends 15th November 2021.
Join now ➟➟➟ Head-on to Rafflecopter here.
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