The Christmas Ranch, by RaeAnne Thayne

December 3, 2014 Book Reviews 4 ★★★½

The Christmas Ranch, by RaeAnne ThayneThe Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Cowboys of Cold Creek
Published by Harlequin on 2014-12-01
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher
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Also in this series: A Cold Creek Christmas Surprise, A Cold Creek Christmas Story, The Holiday Gift, The Rancher's Christmas Song
Also by this author: A Cold Creek Christmas Surprise, Snow Angel Cove, Redemption Bay, Evergreen Springs, A Cold Creek Christmas Story, Riverbend Road, Snowfall on Haven Point, The Holiday Gift, Serenity Harbor, Sugar Pine Trail, The Rancher's Christmas Song, The Cottages on Silver Beach, Sleigh Bells Ring


Hope Nichols has never felt as if she belonged anywhere, except her hometown of Pine Gulch. So, when she hears that her family's property, Christmas Ranch, is set to be shut down forever, a determined Hope heads home. She refuses to let the Grinch steal her holiday—this will be the most memorable ranch Christmas ever! And, thanks to hunky former navy SEAL Rafe Santiago and his adorable nephew, she might just pull off that miracle. Rafe is undeniably drawn to Hope and her passion for rebuilding her family home. But he knows more about Hope's tragic past than even she herself could imagine. And though she doesn't know it, she owes him her life. And all he wants in return is for her to spend it with him…


RaeAnne Thayne gives us not one, but two Christmas books this Christmas, and they’re both enjoyable. I reviewed Snow Angel Cove a week or two ago (and really liked it!) The Christmas Ranch begins a new trilogy in Thayne’s Cowboys of Cold Creek series set in the Idaho mountains, and it’s another sweet, heartwarming holiday romance.

Hope Nichols has spent years wandering the globe, and now it’s time to come home, at least for the holidays. But when she finds out that her family is struggling to keep their cattle operation going, and isn’t planning to open their seasonal “Christmas Ranch”, she throws herself into saving the Christmas Ranch with all the enthusiasm and determination she possesses. She can’t do it alone, though, and that’s where Rafe Santiago comes in. Rafe has just stepped in to care for his 7-year-old nephew, and he’s in over his head – especially when Jeremy breaks Hope’s truck window with a snowball-encased rock. Hope commandeers the boy’s help after school to work off the window repair costs, and Rafe comes along to help out, too.

The two are drawn to each other, but Rafe is holding back.  He and Hope have a (nonromantic) past, but she hasn’t recognized him, and he’s reluctant to remind her for his own personal reasons.  I liked both main characters; they’re both good people with ordinary flaws, doing the best they can for the people, and in Hope’s case also the things, that they love. And the whole idea of the Christmas Ranch delighted me, with its reindeer, sledding hill, animatronic village, and Christmas cheer. Hope gets involved in a side project with her sister’s short story, and I found myself wishing more than once that I could read it, because it sounds just charming!

Hope is impulsive, overly optimistic, and stubbornly determined, and she has a soft heart. Rafe is honorable, loyal, and doing his best to figure out the parenting thing with very little preparation; I actually would have liked to see more of him and Jeremy together. Both of them have things in their past that they’ve had a hard time dealing with, but neither has let it ruin their lives.  They’re the sort of people I would enjoy knowing.

About the only thing I had trouble with in the book was the difficult family situation in which Rafe and Jeremy find themselves. I felt it wasn’t really resolved, and I could see potential for trouble ahead. I also felt Jeremy was a bit too resilient, given what he has been and is still going through. The book is also short, which is probably one of the reasons the Jeremy situation doesn’t get more page time. But don’t let that stop you from reading what is otherwise a sweet and often cute romance.  I enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to the sisters’ stories, which will be published as holiday specials in 2015 and 2016.


About RaeAnne Thayne

RaeAnne Thayne majored in journalism and worked as a reporter, then an editor, before she began writing fiction. She now writes full-time, and lives in the mountains of northern Utah with her family.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

4 Responses to “The Christmas Ranch, by RaeAnne Thayne”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      It can be a problem; I do prefer somewhat longer books because there can be more character development (and just more of everything), but Thayne generally does a good job of getting a lot in a small space.