Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Christmas at the Ranch
Releases 27 September 2022
Okay, so 2.5 months, that's not bad, right? 🤦♀️
So, I should preface that I'm not a big fan of Hallmark, but I can enjoy a good romance novel if it's more than just romance. Now, I didn't know that the author Anita Hughes has written for Hallmark until after I finished Christmas at the Ranch. And I'm quite happy to say that CATR did not read like a gag–inducing Hallmark movie. Now, it was still a bit corny and cheesy, but it was still cute. That's not to say that it didn't follow the trend of a typical Hallmark movie, because it did, but it was still cute.
I can definitely say that I liked CATR, but I can't say that I loved it.
World Building ~ 8/10
Maybe it's just me, but I feel like romances aren't as strong on the world building front.
That being said, I really liked how AH described the quaint, little town that is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It just gave off small town Christmas vibes, and I really liked it. I don't think I really have that much to say on Jackson Hole, but I definitely enjoyed the Christmas vibes.
Characters ~ 6.5/10
So, there's basically the MC, her love interest, and a couple other side characters. Some of them I liked; others, not so much. The side characters aren't significant enough to mention, especially because I don't feel strongly about any of them.
Overall, though, I feel like every character could have used some more (or different) characterization.
Okay, so Samantha is a writer and a hypochondriac. She reminds me of Sophie from One Charmed Christmas by Sheila Roberts, but perhaps worse. Sophie was a bit annoying, but Samantha was more than a bit annoying. Like, I get that some people are hypochondriacs, but I'm not a major fan of reading about them; I'm just not a major fan of whiny MCs. Sorry.
Anyways, she's rather whiny, and she grated on my nerves.
I can't remember that much more, as Samantha wasn't entirely memorable and it's been awhile since I read CATR. :\
I could stand Samantha; I absolutely hated Sloane. Sloane was the fictional character from Samantha's books. She was mentioned so much, and all I got was that Sloane would solve the mystery, sleep with some random guy that she "fell in love with," and then leave. I don't need this mentioned to me every single time she's mentioned! I don't. It's repetitive, and it's annoying.
I didn't mind Drew. He was perhaps the most normal person in the entire book. Still, he could have used some more characterization.
Plot ~ 7/10
This is a romance novel, and the whole plot revolves around Drew and Samantha. However, the little trips the whole group went on around were very interesting to read. But what was most interesting to me was the "mystery" of Drew's mother. Don't get me wrong; the romance was rather good — a bit of an instalove, but c'mon, this is essentially Hallmark — but I cared way more about the non–romantic subplots.
Relationships ~ 8/10
This is a romance, so the most important relationship is obviously Samantha and Drew's relationship. Still, Samantha's relationship with her editor and friend Charlie (and his wife) is really sweet. The other relationships throughout were nice too.
~Samantha & Drew~
Samantha and Drew's relationship was as believable as any Hallmark movie relationship. Also, they "fall in love" in under a week. And maybe I'm a cynic, but that seems a little hard to believe.
Believability aside, their relationship was really cute. I thought they brought out the best in each other.
Prose & Pacing ~ 8/10
I think, in terms of prose and pacing, both were quite good. I think that AH has a good writing style and that her writing flows off of the page nicely. Pacing was also good, and nothing really dragged.
Overall, I rather liked CATR, but it wasn't my favorite romance, let alone book, ever. And, after writing this review, I've decided to round down instead of up. Also, I know my review is rather harsh, but I'm also very, very picky when it comes to romances. So, if you're someone who likes Hallmark movies and/or cute, fluffy, and light romances, CATR is more likely going to be more up your alley. And, one last thing, as someone who recently joined the 1D fandom, I found the reference to Harry Styles quite funny.
Major thanks to St. Martin's Press for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review
Full review posted to Goodreads
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