The Chef, the Holidays & the Husband: Country Brides & Cowboy Boots
by Erica Penrod
Series: Country Brides & Cowboy Boots
Published by Gelato Publishing
Publication Date October 31, 2017
Genres: Clean Romance
Setting: Utah Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 18-24, 25-35
Written for: Adult
Lexi Evans left sunny California for the snow-capped mountains of Utah in search of a new start. A professional chef by trade, Lexi is in search of a new kitchen—one that doesn’t include memories of the man who left her with a ring on her finger and without an explanation.
Lucas Royal owns and operates High Country Ranch, a home for troubled boys, as redemption for his troubled past. He’s found purpose working with the boys and being a part of something bigger than himself. Life was on cruise control, that is until he rescues his new chef in a snow storm. One look at her angel face and he’s fighting for control over his heart.
In spite of each other, Lucas and Lexi find themselves drawn together by the magic of Christmas. Homemade candies and cocoa, carols around the fire, decorating the tree and of course, eight teenage boys wrapping up the commotion, tie them together. But Lucas struggles to reconcile the man he is now, with the man craving Lexi Evans and a secret from Lexi’s past like the ghost of Jacob Marley intent on pushing them apart.
Can Lucas love Lexi knowing a life with her is a future he never saw coming? Will Lexi live in the present and let go of the past to have a future with Lucas? Only some time under the mistletoe and the holidays can give them the hope they need to create a merry Christmas.
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Somehow, without any effort on my part, I find that as I go from one book to another, there is almost always some element from the first that carries over into the next. It could be something as innocuous as the main character’s name, or something more like a thematic element. And this is despite the fact that I don’t generally pick the next book I’ll read with any special planning. Most of the time I don’t even remember what the book is supposed to be about – it is more likely that as I’m scrolling through my unread book pile the title catches my eye so I choose it to read next. The Chef, the Holiday’s & the Husband starts out with Lexi’s car shutting down and refusing to start again as she is headed to her new place of employment. Courting Calla started out almost exactly the same way.
As Lexi began to try to figure out how she was going to get to the Boy’s Home that was out in the middle of nowhere and realized that she might have to defend herself against wild animals, she had this cheerful thought:
I can defend myself against a herd of squirrels, she thought as she unsheathed the six-inch serrated blade. If the herd consisted of two sleeping squirrels and a groggy sibling.
Descriptions in this story were beautiful, using similes and metaphors well. They were not overdone or ridiculous (yeah, I’ve seen some in other stories that just don’t make sense). Here are a couple of examples of the imagery:
Snow gently wrapped around the log beams like a grandmother’s shawl, while a golden hue spilled from the many windows of the three-story home like a Thomas Kinkade painting.
The silver spurs on his boots caught the light streaming in through the windows … and drew her attention, reminding her of the way they made music when he walked in the house, playing his version of a cowboy melody.
The story was well told. I knew that Lexi had a secret hurt, but it was only fully revealed at the end of the book, leaving the suspense as to what it might be. The pacing of the book was good and the relationship progressed in a believable manner.
I loved the way both Lexi and Lucas cared so deeply for the troubled boys living in the house. Their characters were developed in such a way that I liked them both and wanted things to go well for them.
There were a few things in the book that I didn’t care for.
There was some mild swearing in the book, primarily one word that many find innocent.
There were also a number of missing words, misspellings and mis-uses of words in the story that I wish had been caught in the proof-reading of this book. They did detract a little from the story.
Told in the third-person, the viewpoint alternated between Lexi and Lucas, but there were a couple of places that the story was being told by the perspective of one of the characters, yet the thoughts of the other one were slipped in, as if the author couldn’t restrain herself from sharing that one thought.
Lucas first appeared in the author’s story The Horse Trainier, the Buyer & the Bride. I have not read that book yet, but didn’t feel like it affected my ability to follow or enjoy this book.