Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas,
the second book in the series, by Maisey Yates, is an emotional
story that blends grief, hope, love, and wanting to belong.
The hero and heroine connect through their feelings of losing
a loved one.
The author noted, “We can all empathize with the core
feelings of grief and loss. But those who get deep into their
emotions can go through a process of healing. Many of my stories,
including this one, have the characters search for belonging
and to be loved for who they are. I guess I am a frustrated
control freak that wants to fix the world, so I fix it in
my fictional world instead.”
McKenna Tate is homeless and decides to spend the night in
an abandoned cabin on the Dodge Dude Ranch. One of the owners,
Grant, discovers her and realizes she is destitute. Bringing
her to his brother Wyatt, who runs the ranch, and his sister-in-law,
Lindy, they decide to offer her a job under the direct supervision
of Grant. McKenna lost her family at a young age when her
mother left her and was sent to live in foster homes. Wandering
from relationship to relationship, now at the age of twenty-six,
she finds her birth certificate that names her birth father.
Grant also has a sense of loss after his mother and wife succumb
to a terminal illness. The hero and heroine find they can
confide in each other and both long for a sense of belonging.
They look to Wyatt and Lindy as role models and seek their
Yates was influenced for this story because Oregon is a doctor
assisted suicide state. “I wrote into the story that
Grant married his wife knowing she was dying and stayed with
her. Then everyone in the town remembered him as a man to
be pitied and that is his claim to fame. I based it on someone
who lived here and told me her husband died of cancer. She
could not walk through a store without someone asking her
about widowhood. She thought how people are fascinated with
grief. I wrote the Grant quote in the book, “But they
also love a tragedy that isn’t theirs. Because they’re
not the ones that watched someone, they loved suffer and struggle
for years.” My friend said she thought people do not
have the time to listen. They express compassion, but just
wanted her to say fine so they could move on. I reflected,
when we ask how people are, do we mean it and care? I thought,
how do I treat people when they are having emotional pain
or is it shallow pity? Do I actually act with compassion and
actually listen to people when they talk? Writing stories
like this is how I work things out.”
Both Wyatt and Lindy were the main characters in the first
book of the series, Good Time Cowboy. As the owner of a winery,
she makes a business dealing with the dude ranch owner to
attract vacationers, even though she sees him as an arrogant
womanizer. There is also a sexual tension that she cannot
deny, which puts this story into the hot and sexy category.
But if readers overlook the intimate scenes, they will also
see a story of two people struggling to make a life for themselves.
Lindy is recovering from being divorced after ten years of
marriage, and Wyatt is struggling to overcome family problems.
Lindy prefers order and structure, creating a persona of being
cool, sophisticated, well-dressed, and in-control. She realizes
that there is an attraction to Wyatt, an easy-going, sexy,
charming, and a commitment-free cowboy. The intimacy starts
out as casual, but eventually, they fall head over heels in
Rodeos play an important role since Wyatt was a bull rider.
“The horse stuff makes it into my books because my best
friend is a horse person. It is all what she experienced.
But I did grow up going to rodeos and still try to go every
year. I know a couple of rodeo cowboys. All my inspiration
came from watching and listening. What motivates me is how
they see the world. They are brash young guys like Lindy’s
brother Dane who think they are bulletproof and untouchable
with an innate cockiness. Wyatt is a player from his rodeo
days, who is a bit shameless. He thinks he is better than
anyone but is very protective toward women. Lindy never feels
victimized and enjoys the relationship with Wyatt. She is
smart and knows her comfort level. Lindy likes the sexual
place she is in with Wyatt. I would say she is strong, organized,
determined, and an opportunist in a good way. McKenna and
her are survivors.”
Both of these novels will grab readers and will not let up
until the final page. Yates’ plots delve into the character’s
personality and how they compare/contrast with each other.
Through the hero and heroine’s eyes, people find a heart-wrenching