Caidy Bowman had been the apple of her family's eye—until a devastating tragedy forced her to hide from the world. She was used to devoting her time to the animals on her family's ranch. Then widower Ben Caldwell and his two adorable children arrived in Pine Gulch, and suddenly, Caidy wanted more than a life in the shadows….
As the town's new vet, Ben needed a place to stay for the holidays—and for his family to heal from their own loss. He absolutely wasn't looking for love again! But Caidy Bowman's sparkling green eyes and sweet smile touched Ben's broken heart, giving him hope for a new future.
Their future—if he could convince the beautiful cowgirl that Christmas was a time for new beginnings….
And here is Erica's review:
A Cold Creek Noel is a small town contemporary, set in Pine Gulch, Idaho. A large crazy family, a small town where everyone is involved in everyone else's business, etc.
I kind of adored it.
For starters, sexy, taciturn veterinarians who adore animals are my personal Kryptonite, so I already knew that I would get a certain amount of enjoyment out of it.
Ben and Caidy were real people, dealing with real issues. Caidy's been hiding, dropping out of college, not dating much, staying with her older brother and niece, since her parents' murder when she was a kid. Ben is a widower, trying to rebuild his life and his connection with his kids after he realized it's been poisoned by his vindictive in-laws.
They have the obligatory first meeting full of snap judgments and misunderstandings. Then they both realize that they're not being fair and start to chill out.
And they talk. And they have a couple of kisses that got me all sorts of butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling. And they talk some more. They say stupid things that hurt each other, and then they apologize.
Caidy is afraid, I think, of trying to be happy. While this isn't explicitly stated, the focus is on her hiding a lot; it makes sense and I understand her reaction. Ben is legitimately concerned about bringing a new woman into his kids' lives after their mom's death, the move, etc., and I absolutely get that and respect his stance.
There was a real kid in this book! Yay! Ava, Ben's daughter, has been influenced by the evil in-laws, and she is seriously wenchy sometimes. YAY! And then we got to see how great Ben is because when she's being a complete pain in the ass and a massive brat, he's patient with her, knowing it's going to take some time for him to rehab his relationship with her. His son, of course, is completely adorable and silly and cute, but I never felt like he was The Perfect Child. Destry, Caidy's niece who she's helped to raise, is a good kid, but I didn't feel like she was a plot moppet. She's a good kid, but she's a real kid, not a plot device.
I loved watching how hardworking both Ben and Caidy were, how devoted to their jobs and families. Ugh, you guys, it was just so great.
I cried reading this book. And I got all buzzy and happy feeling. And I cried. And I got all happy again. It was LOVELY.
However, when I get a little distance, I can point out some issues. Ben had a tragic enough backstory with (SPOILER) his dead wife, we didn't need to load up on tragedy with the story of his drug addict mom dropping him and his sister at his cold, rich, what-will-people think grandparents' house and dying 3 months later.
It felt like it was mentioned too late in the story to make it really believable. It provides some context for why he chose his late wife to be with, who had some serious issues, but he did love her a lot, and I felt like it wasn't really necessary to “explain” his reasons for marrying before. This is evidently part of a series about the Bowman family, which I didn't know when I started, and there were some infodump passages to fill me in on the brothers' stories. Nothing seriously egregious, but I definitely skimmed in some places.
And to be totally honest, the story may be too sweet for a lot of people. I mean, it is an incredibly gentle, lovely story about nice people. There's no sex. There's not a lot to cut that sweetness, so some people could find it too saccharine. I read it at a time when I needed some comfort and sweetness, so I may read it again (because I totally will read it again) and find it sickly.
But I loved it at the time. Real characters with real shit to deal with, dealing with it, and talking it out. Simple stuff, maybe, but it's damn good.