Saturday, May 31, 2014

Winter's Embrace by Kathleen Ball

Title:  Winter's Embrace
Series:  Cowboy Seasons #3
Author:  Kathleen Ball
Published:  April 28th 2014 by Secret Cravings
Length:  160pgs
Format:  ecopy
Genre:  Western Romance
Shelf:  review
Rating:  ★★★★


Ten years ago Winter’s heart was broken beyond repair by Stone McCoy. Now she is a travel agent ready to lead an Alaskan Cruise and to her surprise Stone McCoy is on her tour. A long ago phone call shattered her trust and her self-confidence. She never planned to see Stone again.

While at college, Stone McCoy woke up, after a fraternity party, to find a girl in his bed. Weeks later she told him she’s pregnant. Calling Winter to break things off was the worst night of his life. Now he’s hoping for a second chance at happiness.

The chemistry is electrifying but old issues lead these two on a merry chase. Can they put old hurts aside and begin again? Join Rancher Stone McCoy and Winter Gavin as they try to find happiness from Alaska to Texas and finally on his Montana Ranch.

Ten years ago Rancher Stone McCoy broke Winter Gavin’s heart. Now he turns up hoping for another chance. Will one too many surprises shy Winter away?


Snow, glistening snow, blinding snow, blizzard, or flurries; Winter didn’t care. It was still cold and in abundance. It’d been a long week since Christmas and Stone hadn’t given her one kind word. He acted as though he was mad at the world and every time she tried to talk to him, he’d invent a reason why it wasn’t a good time to talk. Perhaps it was payback for her refusal to talk things out with him before Christmas. It hurt that he didn’t completely trust her with Rachael anymore, for whatever reason.

It was time to move into the foreman’s house, her house. It was for the best. All the tension between her and Stone wasn’t good for Rachael and maybe it would improve his disposition.

Reluctantly she turned away from the window when she heard Stone clear his throat. Why did he still have to be so damn sexy? “I was just about to pack.”

“Where is Rachael?” Stone stared at her intently, making her uncomfortable.

“Building a snowman with Crabby. You do know he’s anything but crabby don’t you?”

Stone gave her a boyish grin. “That’s the fun of it. Besides he likes his name.”

“I’ll go out and help them. I wasn’t sure if she was allowed to be alone with Crabby, but he insisted that it was fine. I should have asked you but—”

“It’s fine, Winter.” He walked toward her slowly, leaving her nowhere to run.

“All the same, I think—”

“That’s the problem. You think too much. I want you to smile, and I want to see your beautiful eyes light up when you see me. You don’t do that anymore.”

“What? You hardly have time to say hello to me. Why should I smile at you? I don’t understand why you would say it’s fine. Nothing is fine around here. You don’t trust me with Rachael—”

“I’m sorry about that whole conversation. I was in a mood and I didn’t mean it.”

“Well, thank you for that.”

He reached for her hand. “That’s it? The coldness in your voice surprises me. You know I love you.”

Pulling her hand away, she shook her head. “My coldness surprises you? You haven’t talked to me in a week and I don’t know what to think.”

“You’re just running away from me, from us. How can you not know that I love you?”

Her jaw dropped and she instantly closed it. “Love isn’t just words, it’s actions, too. If you’ll excuse me I want to make sure Rachael is warm enough.”

Stone frowned as she scooted around him.

She didn’t know what to say. Thinking too much? He wasn’t trying to understand her at all. She started to put on her boots when the door opened, letting in a blast of winter cold. There stood Rachael, her cheeks apple red and her clothes caked with snow.

“Oh my, did Crabby make you into a snowman?”

“The bad snow did this.” Rachael laughed.

“Here, let me help you.” Winter closed the door and started with Rachael’s snow stiffened hat. It took a while as she worked her way downward until finally Rachael’s frozen socks were off. She ushered her daughter toward the fireplace.

“Sit here and I’ll make you some hot chocolate.”

Rachael sat in the big chair by the fireplace and smiled when Winter put a quilt over her. “I like hot chocolate and pie.”

“Me too, with pie.” Stone grinned at the two of them.

“Well I guess I can make some for you too.” Winter walked toward the kitchen. Damn her traitorous heart. She longed for that man, but every time she saw him was one more lash against her heart. A reluctant apology and declaration of love didn’t erase his behavior toward her all week. Trust wasn’t just telling the truth, it was being able to know that every argument wasn’t Armageddon.

She searched the cabinets and couldn’t find the hot chocolate. “I don’t see the mix for the hot cocoa.”

Rachael rolled her eyes and laughed. “You scratch it with milk.”

“Here, let me help you.” Stone stood at her side before she had a chance to respond. He reached around her, trapping her against the counter. He gave her a long look, swooped down, and kissed her.

Winter tried to jump back but there was no place for her to go. He smelled of leather and pine. He smelled of horses and pure, white snow. His full lips looked inviting and before she knew it, she had her tongue in his mouth, exploring it, and enjoying it too much. Pushing against his chest, she broke the kiss.

Her body trembled and when she looked up at him, he gave her a sexy, knowing smile. Her body betrayed her and she knew the sooner she got out of this house the better. Most of all she needed to get a hold of herself.

Stone stepped back a bit, though not far enough and she could feel his heat wash over her, but she tried to pretend he had no effect. “How…how do you make it? Milk of course but what else?”

Watching, she tried to concentrate on what Stone was teaching her, but she couldn’t focus. The tingling of her body put her on high alert.

“I’m going to move into the other house today.”

Stone stopped stirring the milk. He frowned and opened his mouth as if to say something. Instead, he closed it and shrugged. He poured the hot chocolate into mugs and left hers on the counter.

Regret flowed through her as she watched Rachael and Stone laugh together. She’d still be within shouting distance if Rachael needed her, she reasoned. It was for the best wasn’t it?

“Mama, do you like Daddy’s choc-o-late?”

Winter nodded and grabbed her mug. She walked over to them and sat on the couch. It would have been easy to pretend they were a family, but it wasn’t true.

My review:

What a nice, enjoyable read. Ball develops her world in a quiet, low key manner that lets her readers focus on the storyline while they can also picture their surroundings. While Ball incorporates the elements traditionally found in a contemporary romance she also tells a story that stands out on its own. There are so many unique elements to this story that you can’t help but appreciate it. I also appreciate the fact that the lives of the characters were left open at the end while the story had a sense of completeness and no loose ends.
The characters in this novel were quite well developed, both the main characters and the supporting ones. I quite enjoyed getting to know everyone in such a natural setting. Nothing ever seemed forced. I’ve got to admit, however, that there were many times where I wanted to beat the two main characters on the head with a pillow. The number of times that they said they needed to talk and then refused to talk was bordering on ridiculous.

And now for the important questions: Is this my first novel by this author? Yes. Will I be reading more? Yes, can’t wait to read the rest of this series & her other writing. And finally. Would I recommend this to others? Most definitely.
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About the author:

Sexy Cowboys and the women that love them...Finalist in the 2012 RONE Awards. Top pick, 5 star series from the Romance Review. Kathleen Ball writes contemporary western romance with great emotion and memorable characters. Her books are award winners and have appeared on best sellers lists including Amazon's Best Sellers List. There's something about a cowboy.

Dawson Ranch Series--- Alice's Story, Texas Haven, Ryelee's Cowboy
Lasso Springs Series- - Callie's Heart, Lone Star Joy and Stetson's Storm
Cowboy Season's Series -- Summer's Desire, Autumn's Hope, Winter’s Embrace

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  1. Thank you so much for hosting me and the wonderful review!!

    1. It was my pleasure. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.