Sunday, December 22, 2019

It's the Season of Lovingkindness

This year for Christmas, I’m hoping to pass on to you, dear readers, the gift I got last Christmas: a writer. Jodi Thomas’ new book, Christmas in Winter Valley, is as heartwarming as a Hallmark Christmas movie. It follows last year’s Christmas book, Mistletoe Miracles—and in between the two I’ve hunted up and read at least 44 of her other books. Thomas writes authentically about Western life and people, both historical and modern; most of her latest books are contemporary. She does a perfect blend between western and romance, and anyone who’s ever lived in small-town anywhere will find someone or something to recognize in her stories.
This one, part of her Ransom Canyon series, has ranch life at the forefront: wild mustangs, a runaway orphan, a kind cook, a mysterious inheritance, and Christmas are thrown into the mix as well. As usual, there’s a lot of laughter but some tragedy, too, just like life.
The Holloway men are trying to run the ranch as usual while their brother Griffin and sister-in-law Sunlan are visiting her sick dad. The collegiate cousins-in-law have shown up to visit before Christmas, three city girls who mostly shop and party. Cooper takes off to the back country to care for the mustangs before they’re snowed in, and Elliot is trying to manage the cow hands in addition to his usual job of manning the books. Coop gets injured, Sunlan’s dad needs more care than expected, and Elliot’s college girlfriend shows up to add to the chaos. It all adds up to a merry time in Texas.
More than one character will get their happy ending when the snow clears; it’s another specialty of Thomas’ to intertwine several stories in a book.
While not quite under the “clean romance” umbrella, Thomas never focuses on the sex scenes for more than a page or two. Her books focus on regular people making the best of things through hard work and kindness. Isn’t that really what love is, after all? Dear readers, I hope you find the best books all year long—and may you be blessed with the gift of lovingkindness in this season that celebrates love.