Calder Pride

Eve's Christmas

Lone Calder Star

Santa in a Stetson

Something More

Santa in Montana
by Janet Dailey
(Zebra Books, $7.99, G) ISBN 978- 1-4201-1474-3
When I was assigned a Janet Dailey novel to review, people kept saying to me, “Janet Dailey? She’s big, you know. She’s a best seller.” So I had high hopes going into Santa in Montana, as it’s the eighth book in the Calder series. Maybe if I had read the seven that came before it, I might have enjoyed it more, or understood more of what was going on.

From what I was able to gather, Santa in Montana is supposed to focus on Cat Calder and her journey in finding a partner after the death of her husband several years prior. Cat, like pretty much every Calder, lives on the Calder family-owned Triple C Ranch in Montana. She lives with her father and five other relatives. Cat focuses her attention on taking care of her aging father, Chase. Her father, however, has other plans. To get Cat to stop pestering him, he calls a family friend’s son and asks him to come out and see the ranch.

Wade is that family friend and he has always wanted to see the Triple C Ranch. While he is there on business he meets Cat and he is attracted to her. The business is a mystery up until the very end of the book, and when it is revealed, I was left to wonder if Wade was even there for Cat in the first place, but I’m going to assume he was at least partially there to meet her. He asks her out and she declines, but then retracts her ‘no’ and says ‘yes.’

Wade and Cat decide to go out for dinner and Wade comes back to the ranch. They hit it off, grab dinner, share a dance and a few kisses and then Wade goes home.

What got under my skin is that those few kisses and some hand-holding is the extent of the romance. Christmas is a romantic holiday, and while yes, Cat and Wade are older, they’re not dead. Last time I checked, sex wasn’t only for the young. Not that the book needed sex, but a little something to let me know that Santa in Montana is a romance novel and not simply a story that had some Disney caliber romance added in for good measure.

The big Christmas climax scene had very little to do with Cat and Wade. Cat just so happened to be in the room. That was the extent of her participation. I was led to believe that Santa in Montana was supposed to be primarily about Cat, so why isn’t she participating more?

I will give Dailey credit for creating interesting and varied characters, which is difficult when you have a massive family featured in one novel. I didn’t figure out who everyone is and what their relations are to each other until the end of the first third of the book, but they were interesting people. Jake, the grandson, was full of energy and was very well done. Watching Jake bound around through different scenes was a hoot.

The Triple C Ranch is massive, complicated, intricate and impressive. The Triple C lived up to expectations and I enjoyed being taken all over it by Dailey. There were some parts that had nothing to do with the book that felt to me like unnecessary tangents. Perhaps they are explained in other novels.

In my opinion, books about Christmas and the Christmas spirit should give you that warm, fuzzy holiday feeling and that happy and settled feeling a good romance novel leaves you with. This book had neither. To me, it felt more like a story that just so happened to take place in the fall and winter and Christmas just so happens to occur every year in the winter, so Dailey threw in some scenes about making Christmas treats and putting up Christmas lights. I will give the book credit for one cute Christmas scene in which Cat’s grandson Jake participates in the ranch’s annual Christmas concert. Overall, I felt like Christmas took a back seat to the day-to-day lives of the Calder family and to Cat and Wade’s (barely) budding romance. Christmas had very little to do with any of it.

All in all, if you’re looking for a book to get you in the Christmas spirit, look elsewhere. Santa in Montana is more about family and ranch life then it is about romance and Christmas.

--Lindsey Seddon

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