A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.
Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas.
Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another.
Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband?
In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging, and plenty of Christmas spirit.
Cooper frowned. “What’s so important, Griff? I got thirty head lost out in Mistletoe Canyon. They need to be found and herded to the north pasture before it gets too late for me to get some fishing in.”
Elliot nodded. “I got calls to make. The market’s down and what little cash we had in reserve seems to be evaporating.”
“All right.” Griffin straightened, facing his problem head-on. “It’s simple. The ranch is broke. We’ve got two months to come up with the loan payment and all I see is money going out.”
“We’re always broke.” Elliot shrugged. “We’ll find a way to pay the loan come January. We always do. Sell cattle or gravel, or lease a few sections out for winter wheat crops.”
Closing his eyes, Griffin ran through the long list of things they’d tried before. A few, like leasing land for grazing or farming, had helped get them through last winter. But others, like the expensive barn his father had once built to board racehorses that never came sell to city folks, hadn’t paid off.
Griffin frowned, knowing he was out of ideas. “There is no easy answer this time. Selling gravel or leasing wouldn’t be enough. Selling off our best breeding stock will only hurt us next spring. I see only one way out of the mess we’re in. One of us has got to get married.”
Glaring at Cooper, Griffin clarified, “And I’m not talking about someone like the new waitress at Dorothy’s Café. One of us has to find a woman with money or land we can borrow on. I’m not particular as to which. We need fresh blood flowing into the Maverick Ranch.”
Cooper grinned. “Dang, Griff, you sound like we’re vampires. I don’t want to marry some girl for her money.”
Griffin realized how callous he sounded. “Of course we’d love her, treat her right and all that. It’s just time one of us got married, and her being rich wouldn’t hurt.”
Elliot looked up from his cell. “I was engaged during my freshman year of college to Bella Brantley, remember? Her family owned a few blocks in downtown Dallas. But then Dad died and within six months I had to quit school and come home.” He glowered at Cooper. “She broke off the engagement after a weekend visit here. I blame him for that. One look at little brother and she didn’t want anything to do with our gene pool.”
“I wasn’t the reason. I was only a kid. That woman was a plague of problems.” Cooper puffed up like a horned toad. “I just took her for a ride across the place. It wasn’t my fault she kept falling off the horse. Then she got all crazy when I offered to rub liniment on her backside. Like I wasn’t being considerate or something. And that accidental bumping together in the hallway was her fault, not mine.”
Old anger fired in Elliot’s eyes.
Griffin stepped between them before a fight broke out, again. “I’m serious and I have a plan. Come hell or high water, one of us is walking a wealthy girl down the aisle before Christmas. We’re land rich and cash poor, and I see only one way to end that. Two months should be enough time to find a woman, date her, propose and get married. Way I see it we won’t take any of her land or money. That wouldn’t be right. We’ll just borrow against her land to make the payment. Next spring we’ll make it back and pay her back.”
“That’s what you always say,” Cooper groaned. “We’re always living off next year’s money.”
“We could sell off a few sections,” Elliot suggested.
Both brothers stared at him so hard he took a step backward. Never selling land, any amount, had been drilled into them like it was the eleventh commandment Moses forgot to write down.
“I’ll be long buried in Holloway dirt before I sell a square foot. It’s part of me. I might as well cut off a leg or an arm.” Griffin’s hands molded into fists.
“We get it, Griff. We feel the same. It was just an option.”
Griffin nodded once.
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today’s bestselling author Jodi Thomas has published over 30 books in both the historical romance and contemporary genres, the majority of which are set in her home state of Texas. Publishers Weekly calls her novels “Distinctive…Memorable,” and that in her stories “[tension] rides high, mixed with humor and kisses more passionate than most full-on love scenes.” In 2006, Romance Writers of America (RITA) inducted Thomas into the RWA Hall of Fame for winning her third RITA for THE TEXAN’S REWARD. She also received the National Readers’ Choice Award in 2009 for TWISTED CREEK (2008) and TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN (2008). While continuing to work as a novelist, Thomas also functions as Writer in Residence at the West Texas A&M University campus, where she inspires students and alumni in their own writing pursuits.