Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Hero Grinch for Christmas by Samanthya Wyatt

Publisher & Release Date: Self-published, December 12, 2015

Time and setting: Present Day, Wyattville, Colorado

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Christmas

Length:   Unknown

Heat Level: 2 Flame

Rating: 3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

Dani will not allow The Grinch to hide from Christ­mas. She will cure Hunter of his nasty mood, even if it kills her. But who will save her from his pas­sion­ate kisses.

War hero, Hunter Gra­ham, has seen enough dev­as­ta­tion to last a life­time. At the end of his lat­est Army term, he accepted his dis­charge papers and never looked back. His uncle’s home is tucked away in the majes­tic moun­tains, a per­fect place for him to hide from Christ­mas and his own mem­o­ries. But he can’t hide from the delec­table Dani. The last thing he needs is a female in his life. But this one has the face of an angel and eyes you can drown in.

Dani Wimer left the Col­orado moun­tains and relo­cated in the bright lights of New York City. Every Decem­ber she returns to the vil­lage of Ever­green. When a hunky mil­i­tary guy enters her aunt’s shoppe, he seems lost and angry. His scowl is intim­i­dat­ing, but that doesn’t bother the spunky girl who cel­e­brates the hol­i­days like it’s Christ­mas every day. She decides to put a smile on his Grinch face and ends up los­ing her heart in a pas­sion­ate whirlwind.

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Just like a picture on a Christmas card, the little town of Wyattsville was nestled between two snow-capped mountains. Population 763, a quaint village where his uncle settled after his third marriage failed.
Hunter Armstrong stared out the window while snowflakes grazed the glass, glistening in the nighttime sky. In the distance, every inch of ground was covered with snow. He hadn’t been here in two years, but nothing had changed. The soft glow of lights coming from various windows and storefronts along Main Street reminded him of everything he used to love. Although he should find comfort and joy in the familiar surroundings, instead, he closed his eyes in anguish.
 Wheels squeaked and the engine resounded to a soft hum as the train came to a grinding halt. He regarded the passengers around him and waited as they moved to the aisle, gathered their belongings, and one-by-one, headed for the rear door.
They’d reached the end of the line, Wyattsville, Colorado.
 With a heavy sigh, he grabbed his gear and loped down the two steps of the train. Blinking lights lined the roof of the depot, with silver, red, and gold decorations, and pine branches tangling around the supporting poles. All that was missing was a group of carolers. Even with Christmas around the corner, he’d expected the town to be vacant. Empty. Judging by the number of people gathered, either a celebrity was on the train, or some sort of festivity loomed.
God, he hated this. Hated waking up every morning to bright and cheerful people, even worse now that the holidays had arrived. A cluster of people were vying for someone’s attention. Whoever stood in the center of the crowd must be important and well loved. The hugs and tears made Hunter’s own circumstances more real. No one was there to meet him.
He shook off his unease, and put one booted foot in front of the other, determined to forget the party. The circle of people opened as he walked by, revealing a man in uniform.
A hero’s welcome home.
Pain filled memories flashed through Hunter’s mind. Recollections of buddies he’d lost in combat.
He studied each person, wondering which were relatives—friends—maybe a lover. Hunter’s comrades had not been so lucky.
He hefted the duffel bag higher onto his shoulder and plowed forward, making his way through the crowd. As he stepped off the platform, he spotted several teams of horses hitched to sleighs. He guessed it was a special treat to celebrate the soldier’s return.
With one last glance, he turned the corner and headed toward the center of the village. His hide-away for the next . . . however long, he hadn’t decided yet. There wasn’t any place else he wanted to go. In the mountains he could lose himself; no one knew he was here and he preferred it that way. He sure as hell didn’t want to celebrate Christmas.
Once people discovered his whereabouts, there’d be questions. Especially from the lady he suspected had been his uncle’s sweetheart. Had Denny lived, maybe his fourth wife. He remembered the happy glint in his uncle’s eyes the last time they’d seen each other, which suggested maybe the couple shared more than a friendship. After three failed marriages, the man had sworn off women. But Hunter knew better.
For a moment, a smile tried to form on his face, but misery overrode the effort. He just couldn’t be happy; he’d failed his uncle.
His eyes grew misty. He should have come sooner. Of course, he hadn’t had much of a choice. If the military wanted a GI to have a life outside the Army, they would have issued one. He was a Ranger. Dedicated to his profession.
Well, no more. He’d burned that bridge. All he had was time now. A little late, but he’d made a vow, and he intended to fulfill it.

Vikki’s Musings

Don’t you just love Christmas tales? I certainly do. When I had the chance to read A Hero Grinch for Christmas in exchange for an honest review, I eagerly accepted. This is not your typical heart-warming story that gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling. This book is an emotionally-charged read of pain and growth for a veteran.

Hunter, a decorated war hero, returns to Wyattville, too late to see his uncle, Denny. He had been on a mission when he died. Now, he has inherited his uncle’s home. The last thing he wants is to be reminded of the holidays. He wants to be left alone.

Dani Wimer loves the holidays and returns each year to Wyattville to spend the season with her aunt, Fay. When she meets Hunter, she can feel his pain and decides to drive to his house and deliver some Christmas cheer and food since he lives alone.

When Dani’s car slides into a ditch close to Hunter’s home, she becomes stranded with Hunter. She is determined to bring some Christmas spirit to her hero Grinch whether he wants it or not. Can she break through his barrier, or will Hunter’s grinch side win?

A Hero Grinch for Christmas is a well-written Christmas story. The pacing is steady except in the middle where it drags a bit. This book is centered entirely on Hunter and Dani with a few very brief cameos of a few secondary characters. I think that is why the pacing slowed at times. I think it is very hard to keep a story going when all the interaction is between the hero and heroine.

Dani is a light-hearted woman, determined, feisty and loyal to those she loves. Her empathy for Hunter is touching. I enjoyed her character a great deal. I am not sure I would have tried so hard to bring Hunter out of his depressed state of mind. She does not give up, no matter how surly and unpleasant he is.

Hunter’s character is quite complex. He’s a tortured soul fighting the demons of war. Normally I quickly bond to a troubled hero, but he is so hardened and nasty at times to Dani, I didn’t truly begin to like his character until close to the end of the book.

If you enjoy a story filled with plenty of emotion, a story of love and redemption, and one completely centered on the hero and heroine, then you will love A Hero Grinch for Christmas. I am glad I had the opportunity to read this book. Dani’s wonderful character makes it all worthwhile. Happy reading!

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