Saturday, December 9, 2017

ARC Review - Thirty-One Days and Legos (Ranger Station Haven) by S.A. Stovall

Thirty-One Days and Legos (Ranger Station Haven)
A Ranger Station Haven Christmas Novella

Park rangers Carter and Owen Williams have decided to expand their family and adopt two brothers—boys they rescued a year before when they tried to escape the foster system and flee to Canada. After completing their parenting classes, Carter, a reserved man who enjoys the simple life, swears he’ll be the best father possible. His patience is tested, however, when one brother adopts a cat out of the snowy Voyageurs National Park and the other brother refuses to talk about what’s bothering him.

Owen wants to make sure their first Christmas together is a special one, and he decides all of December should be a celebration. He has an activity planned for each of the thirty-one days, but none of them seem to go off without a hitch. The cat has fleas, the boys need to attend a court hearing, and Carter is more than a little overwhelmed.

But Carter is 100 percent determined to make his new family work. He just has no idea how…

Todd's rating:

 Last year's short holiday read, "Ranger Station Haven", was one of my favorites of Christmas 2016, so I was stoked to hear that this follow-up story was happening and immediately requested it.

In this new story, stoic Carter and ever-cheerful Owen have decided to adopt two of the young runaways that they helped rescue last year.

From page one, Carter immediately began displaying his eternally-pessimistic attitude and, with few exceptions, he never really stopped. He was the Ebenezer Scrooge in this particular holiday tale.

But Owen was there to keep reminding him that he needed to relax and try not to take everything so seriously, which was refreshing.

However, despite Owen's supposed dedication to becoming a parent and creating a family with Owen, I never really got the *why* behind that. I could have definitely used some more convincing on-page.

While I did enjoy the story, I would have liked to have seen both Carter and Owen being more openly affectionate with 6 y.o. Edmund and his 13 y.o. brother, Luke.

They did tons of activities, but there were literally no scenes that included random pats on the back, shoulder squeezes, or hair ruffling "just because" the kid was being adorable. Or annoying. Or anything at all. Not even from Owen, who was the more relaxed of the pair.

Yes, they were there to comfort the kids during a few tough times, but I just never quite felt the "OMG, we're parents now and this is going to be amazing" energy that I was looking for this time out.

So, although I did really enjoy this one, I felt that it was missing some of the special *spark* that the first short story had in spades and I'd rate it at around 3.5 stars.

My ARC copy of the story was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

Get the book: Stovall/e/B01NAP6H1Y

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