Book Review: The Last Christmas Cowboy by Maisey Yates
While this is the eleventh book in the Gold Valley series by Maisey Yates, there isn’t too much of a procession of previous characters, and there isn’t really an overarching series plot arc to follow either, so I don’t think it’ll really matter if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series - I haven’t, and I followed along pretty well.
This book shares quite a few plot beats with Jane Austen’s Emma, particularly in the first half, as Rose tries to matchmake, only to find herself the target of affections both desired and otherwise. Logan is the Knightley figure, the older not-actually-related friend who she has always considered a brother - until she suddenly starts looking at him differently. Ten years older, having known her since she was six, Logan has been valiantly suppressing his interest in Rose since she came of age, but she brings things to a head between them and he can’t resist.
There’s a refreshingly different take at the black moment here - I could absolutely predict what Logan was going to do, telling Rose that he didn’t love her to try and push her away ‘for her own good’ but Rose’s reaction was fabulous. Instead of taking his words at face value and running away to cry into her pillow, she stood there and told him she saw through his nonsense, verbally dissected him with devastating accuracy and basically told him that if he managed to pull his head out of his rear end, he knew where to find her. It was brilliant, and perfectly fitting with Rose’s take-no-prisoners, straightforward character.
I was disappointed that Logan seemed to then need to also have a conversation with Rose’s older brother Ryder in order to get his head straight. Rose told him the truth about himself, and he needed to be self-honest enough to admit and accept it without needing affirmation from another man. It made me think less of Logan as a character - and I admit that the ten-year age difference between him and Rose already had me feeling pretty put off him. Rose’s naivety also felt overdone - this is a girl who is the archetypal tomboy, yes, the girl who works as a ranch hand - but she’s also a girl who went to a mainstream American high school, a pretty girl who, apparently, was never asked out by boys. I just felt my suspension of disbelief straining a bit at that one, I’m afraid. Rose isn’t stupid and she’s not all that sheltered, so her ignorance of anything to do with the opposite sex - at all - just didn’t feel realistic.
There was plenty to enjoy here despite the book playing off some tropes I’m not keen on - Friends to Lovers and Older Brother’s Best Friend, for example. The Austen references were cleverly done and not heavy-handed, and I definitely liked the subversion of the black moment with Rose’s directness in calling Logan on his own character failings. The way she put the problem back on him to deal with was absolutely delightful. Overall, I’ll give it four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.