CHRISTMAS IN COWBOY COUNTRY – Janet Dailey
Present Day Colorado
Annie Bennett loves skiing, so it makes sense that she loves her job as a ski instructor. She's taught in Vail and most recently in Aspen. But now, after she broke her leg in a skiing accident, she's gone home to the ranch where she grew up. There, she can help her parents while she finishes healing. One day she sees her father arguing in the field with a stranger…a tall, handsome stranger. The stranger is Marshall Stone, a land surveyor, and her father accuses him of trespassing and orders him off his land. It seems Marshall crossed the boundary between the Bennett place and that of a not very neighborly neighbor.
The nearby small town of Velde is growing as some of the ranches have been subdivided and sold off. The next time she meets the stranger is while attending a town meeting with her parents, where their feuding neighbor (who hired the surveyor) has brought in a “consultant” in the matter of real estate. The consultant, named Shep Connally, offers help to the people of the area. He doesn't make a very good impression on Annie. But who does intrigue her is Marshall Stone, who sits by her at the meeting. As they leave together, they take a private moment to talk…and end up in a fiery kissing match. Now it has been a long time since Annie dated anyone seriously; there is no one in the area she would consider dating. Yet, Marshall really turns her on. Too bad her father wouldn't like to see them together. Besides, Marshall probably won't stay around long.
In this Annie is wrong. Marshall is more than a surveyor. The FBI has been investigating Connally in connection with real estate fraud for some time, but they need proof of his crimes. Too bad Marshall couldn't tell Annie what he's really up to. That would have prevented some misunderstandings and distrust.
CHRISTMAS IN COWBOY COUNTRY is a quick but enjoyable read. Annie is a lovable and generous heroine who helps out in town where she can. Marshall is no slouch in the caring department either. He rescues a dog from a dumpster and names him Rowdy for his happy enthusiasms. Add in some family and interesting locals to the love story and the ongoing investigation, and you have a fine holiday tale.