Axel King has always been hot headed, something that’s created a heap of trouble on the rodeo circuit. The rodeo is a tough life and this cowboy is ready to settle back home, buy the old family ranch, and live quietly without the wildness of his past. All he has to do is win the Pride River Christmas Rodeo, but to do that he’s got to stay out of trouble. Trouble he very nearly finds by getting into yet another bar fight, stopped just in time by Belle Manning, his childhood friend. She always kept him out of hot water when he was a kid, with her calm support and friendly smile, and though it’s been years since he’s seen her, Axel’s never forgotten the first girl he kissed. And never forgotten how her daddy warned him to stay away from her. Troublemakers like him just aren’t good enough for someone like her.
Belle never forgot the sexy cowboy who stole her heart when they were kids. So when he approaches her with a proposition, she’s ready to listen. Axel wants her by his side so she can keep him out of trouble until the Christmas rodeo. In exchange, he’ll give her a plot of land so she can build her occupational therapy clinic. It’s a stunning proposal and one Belle can’t refuse. Her dream of using horses to help people heal is finally coming true. And, bonus, running around town with Axel will keep her matchmaking mother off her back. She’ll think about a relationship after her practice is up and running. Once Axel wins the rodeo, they can go on their merry ways. But it doesn’t take long before their fake relationship takes an unexpected turn toward real, throwing Belle off kilter. Is it possible Axel could turn into the Christmas present she didn’t know she wanted all along?
Who doesn’t love a hot cowboy? Add in a friends-to-lovers holiday romance and you get an unforgettable happily-ever-after.
Axel might have left town long ago, but that doesn’t mean Pride River isn’t still home. And he’s certainly never forgotten the girl he left behind. His best friend, Belle. There were so many tropes in this book it kept things interesting. Cowboys, hometown celebrity, unrequited love, friends-to-lovers, and more. I admit it didn’t hook me immediately. The first chapter or two was a little slow but it didn’t take long before I was eager to find out what happened next.
Petty rivalry between Axel and another cowboy adds just enough drama, along with Belle’s matchmaking mother, who dislikes rodeo cowboys. It would seem things were set to keep Axel and Belle apart, but it only brought them closer together. It wasn’t long before they realized their pretend relationship wasn’t all that fake after all.
Belle is strong, sassy, and determined to achieve her dreams. I loved her character. She didn’t back down from a chalkboard refused to let anyone get in her way. But she had one weakness… Axel.
I think Axel was a bit harder for me to like. For a rodeo cowboy, he didn’t have much swagger. If anything, he seemed full of self-doubt and kept disparaging himself. When I think of cowboy romances, especially rodeo cowboys, I expect a certain amount of cockiness. While he claimed to be cocky, he didn’t come across that way at all. I don’t mind a more tender, sweet hero, but he wasn’t the least bit alpha to me which was kind of a turnoff. Yet he and Belle were perfectly matched.
Cowboys Christmas Rodeo was an enjoyable story with a happily-ever-after guaranteed to make you smile. If you want a lower heat, feel good Christmas book, look no further—you just found it.
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC via NetGalley for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.