Title: The Christmas Challenge
Author: Sinclair Jayne
Series: Wilders #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: 15th Nov
Prodigal daughter, infamous flirt and fiery-haired champion barrel racer Tucker McTavish blazes back home to Marietta with both a secret, and a personal challenge. She will keep a low profile at her twin sister’s Christmas wedding. Which means no whiskey. No kissing. No scandals. No fun. What she needs is a miracle, so it’s too bad when she visits the legendary Miracle Lake to plead for inner strength: a tall, dark, and handsome bad boy is waiting with a challenge of his own.
Extreme sports guide Laird Hunter doesn’t do boring. And he thought he didn’t have secrets. He thrives in carving his own trail through tight and dangerous spots, but when he finds out his entire life has been built on a lie, he heads to Marietta for answers. But when he meets the redhead with the killer smile, laughing eyes and body with more curves than a mountain road, he finds himself asking a whole new set of questions.
Will these two daredevils – with more than a few secrets between them – find the one person from whom they don’t need to hide?
Source: ARC from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
I’m in two minds about this book, because while I enjoyed catching up with the Wilder family again, I liked the romance and I really liked Laird, I spent most of the book wondering why I should care about Tucker – and why anyone else should either.
The thing with Tucker is that she’s selfish. She’s lived her entire life however she chooses and for most of the book she simply does not understand why this might be a problem. The things she’s done to her twin Tanner in the past are brushed off and glossed over, because she’s back now, so all is forgiven. Nope. Tucker’s reasons for returning are selfish, so are her reasons for hanging around. There is not one moment in this book where she genuinely puts herself out for anyone else. Even when she’s doing something good, it’s still because she gets more out of it than the other person.
She’s not awful or bitter or spiteful, but she is selfish and she owed Tanner a million and one apologies, which never arise because Tucker doesn’t see that she ever really did anything wrong. All those stolen boyfriends, the lack of visits when Tanner was in hospital, the lack of help in the years since, nope, not important, because Tucker is here to save the day! Urgh.
Laird is better. He’s quieter, more thoughtful. He has also lived a life mostly to please himself, and yet, somehow he’s more self-aware than Tucker. Probably because life has smacked him around more thoroughly of late. Admittedly, there’s a lot of Laird’s history that never gets explored. I wanted to know more about his filming days and why they ended – because there’s obviously a story there. It might also have been nice to have known pretty much anything about him that hadn’t happened in the last year.
Still, I did love how he treated Tucker – even if it slightly baffled me about how he continued to think she was good and kind and sweet and thoughtful when she does tell him at least some of her faults. He does bring out the best in her, which makes their romance sweet. And hot. There’s a lot of longing between these two as Tucker tries to live up to her Miracle Lake promise, plus a few steamy kisses.
However, that ending… come on! After all that build up, you’ve gotta be kidding me.
I was also left scratching my head about how long it takes for certain puzzle pieces to fall into place. Laird should have guessed sooner, and I would have expected others to be more suspicious too, given how this series has turned out thus far. Practically everyone they meet comments on it. It’s the whole reason why Laird is even in Marietta. Throw that in with the ending and my overall feelings towards Tucker and I’m on the fence with this one.
I liked the romance, I always love spending Christmas in Marietta, and it was great to catch up with Tanner and Luke and see what’s happening with the ranch. However, your own mileage may vary, depending on how much patience you have with a selfish heroine. On balance, I enjoyed this one more than I didn’t, and I’ll still be looking out for more – especially if it features Kane.
The Christmas Challenge is out November 15th.
Visit Sinclair Jayne for more details.