A GIFT HE WAS NOT EXPECTING
RUST CREEK RAMBLINGS
There's no place like home for the holidays. But Trey Strickland's house is about to become a bit more crowded than he anticipated. Merry Christmas, Baby Daddy! The sexy Thunder Canyon rancher has no idea he will soon be a father.
But just who is carrying Trey's baby? Dear readers, the answer may shock you! Let's just say that it is someone well-known to this reporter. Our mystery mama can't figure out how to tell Trey she is in the family way after their one night together. What will happen when the truth comes out? Will her cowboy crush race off for parts unknown, or will he deliver the perfect Christmas proposal in a tiny velvet box?
Good conclusion to this year's Montana Mavericks series. In the previous book, The Maverick's Holiday Masquerade, we discovered that Kristen's twin sister Kayla also had an encounter with the infamous spiked wedding punch, and is pregnant. She has kept the secret for five months, not sure how to tell Trey what is happening. She isn't even sure that he remembers it.
Trey was a little fuzzy about the events when he woke up the next morning, especially since Kayla was no longer there. Finding her earring has him pretty certain about what happened, but when he sees Kayla again she pretends nothing happened and he follows her lead. He heads back home to Thunder Canyon, unaware of what's in store.
I liked Kayla a lot, but I also got a bit frustrated with her. Trey had been her brother's best friend and she had had a huge crush on him when they were younger. Their encounter at July's wedding had been a fantasy come true for her. Once she gets over the shock of finding out she's pregnant, she knows she has to tell Trey. She doesn't feel right about breaking the news over the phone, so she puts it off until he returns to visit his grandparents for the holidays. She happy and nervous to see him again. Happy because it's obvious to her that the attraction from the wedding wasn't just the punch, and spending time with him is a dream come true. But the need to tell him about the baby weighs heavily on her mind. Rather than come right out and tell him, she tries to sound him out on his views of kids and families, and isn't happy with what she hears back. She doesn't consider that there could be a difference in his opinions about an abstract idea and a reality.
I really liked Trey. He's a nice guy who realizes that he's interested in his best friend's little sister, a big no-no in the "bro-code". But the spiked punch lowers inhibitions and his feelings overcame his common sense. I loved the way he was so careful the next morning to make sure that no evidence remained that would damage Kayla's reputation before leaving to go home. It was sweet to see how much he was looking forward to seeing her again when he came back for the holidays.
I liked the development of their relationship as they spend as much time together as they can. Kayla quickly realizes that she is in love with Trey and becomes even more nervous about telling him about the baby. She doesn't want to lose what is growing between them. It was frustrating at times to see her chicken out of telling him so many times. Trey is really getting into spending time with Kayla. I loved the part where he realizes that he's not interested in the women who come onto him at the bar, and that with Kayla is where he wants to be. He's a little thoughtless in his remarks about families and babies, but he's still young and not really thinking about that part of his future. I completely understood his anger and hurt when she finally told him.
I thought Trey's reactions were pretty realistic, and liked the way he worked through them pretty quickly. Being the honorable type of guy he was, his proposal was also understandable, but not what Kayla was looking for. She doesn't want "the right thing", she wants to be loved the way that she loves Trey. The question then becomes one of whether Trey can convince Kayla that he really does love her. I loved his big moment at the end.
The series also concludes with two surprise revelations. First, the culprit in the punch spiking makes a confession in an unusual way. The story behind it is pretty amusing. Second, the identity of the Rust Creek Rambler is revealed. That too was pretty interesting, as is the contents of the Rambler's final column as shown in the epilogue. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for the people of Rust Creek Falls.