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Marin Thomas

REVIEW: Samantha’s Cowboy by Marin Thomas

REVIEW: Samantha’s Cowboy by Marin Thomas

Dear Ms. Thomas,

0809-9780373752751-bigwThis is the last book in a trilogy that doesn’t read that way. Which is a relief to me as I hate jumping into a series and feeling over my head with past characters and situations. After reading the middle book, The Cowboy’s Promise, I knew the book on the hero’s brain damaged sister would be up next and I knew I didn’t want to miss how you would handle this. As with the other books of yours I’ve read, it is with tact and believability.

Samantha Cartwright was once a no-nonsense tomboy who loved horses and wasn’t afraid of anything. Then she was kicked in the head by a rescue horse, spent time in a coma and then more time fighting her way back to as close to normal as she’ll ever get. Physically she looks fine but she copes by taking notes, making lists and trying to stay calm in the face of trying situations. Since the accident, her overprotective father, wealthy oil baron Dominick Cartwright, has tried to smooth her path but Sam knows she if she wants to obtain her dream, she’ll need to reach for it herself.

Her initial meeting with financial advisor Wade Dawson is a step on her way to achieving her dream of opening a horse rescue operation. It’s a step towards an ulcer for him as he discovers that somehow, Sam’s multimillion dollar trust fund has been emptied. Wade decides to cover the expenses Sam is accruing with his own money while he searches for whoever tapped the account. And if that also means he has to do some physical labor trying to help get her rundown property in shape, so be it. But as their attraction for each other grows, each only sees obstacles in the way of a potential romance. Is there a chance for them and Sam’s dream to come true?

First off, though Dominick Cartwright isn’t onstage much, I loved him. Here’s a man who is confident in his power and authority and it’s easy to see why he’s such a mover and shaker in the oil business and in the state of OK. But…he loves his daughter and still worries about her and how she’ll get on in the world. He’s concerned about her – and has slightly smothered her to some extent – but can recognize that a man truly loves her and is willing for her sake to push the romance and step back for her to reach for her dream – both the horse ranch and a relationship. In a world of idiot, moron romance fathers, he’s a winner.

I also love the image of the matching geeky nerd father and son. Bravo that Wade recognizes his son’s intelligence and fosters it but at the same time, still worries about making sure Luke can relate to other children and has some kind of social network. And thank goodness that when there is an issue with Luke and Sam, and from all the mentions of a child in Sam’s past I knew this was coming, Wade still believes in Sam, doesn’t blame her since she did everything right and reassures her that it was mainly Luke’s fault for not following her clear directions and warnings. There are no breakdowns in their relationship over this is what I’m trying to say and I truly appreciate it.

Sam is a heroine who fits both choices in our recent poll on heroines: perfect or flawed. She’s a woman who is beautiful enough to make men who pass her in the street turn and look until they accidentally walk into a wall but she’s also flawed with her memory lapses due to her head injury. And unlike so many “flaws” in romanceland this one is major and permanent. There’s no quick fix for Sam but she’s got coping mechanisms already in place that help her deal with her life as it always will be. Bully for her that she’s got the gumption to reach for her dream of a rescue horse ranch, that she’s tried to research it and make sure she’s covered all her bases, that this isn’t just a rich girl whim but a deep seated desire and that she’s overcoming her remaining fear of horses.

You handle the previous couples from the first books in the series just the way I like. We see they’re happy, they take a small part in this book in a way that fits this book and then that’s it. As such I feel that anyone could start with any of these books and not feel lost or annoyed.

This is a fast romance but you make it clear that Sam feels that Wade likes her as she is, is good for her and just plain makes her feel good about herself: complete, whole and perfect. I like that Wade stops to consider how his relationship with Sam will affect Luke and makes sure it’s okay with his son. Wade tells Sam that most women see his as a geek but in Sam’s eyes, he’s sexy and desirable. And all guys want that.

I do question Wade’s ethics – just a bit. I can understand why he wanted to wait until he’d spoken with his uncle before spilling all the beans but once that was done, to wait any longer irked me. Yes, he did eventually come clean about it and I give him major points for going straight to Dominick and fessing up but that little bit of time makes me squirm for him. I do hope Dominick Cartwright dishes out hell where it’s needed.

This is a fast, enjoyable read which is a nice wrap up of this series. I like that you’ve created a heroine with problems that won’t be solved with any quick fix. And a hero who is a cowboy wannabe underneath his geeky exterior. I like that each of them stretches their limitations and finds something wonderful in the other. If only Wade had confessed his cover up earlier…but the book is still a B for me.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at eHarlequin.com or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

REVIEW: The Cowboy’s Promise by Marin Thomas

REVIEW: The Cowboy’s Promise by Marin Thomas

Dear. Ms. Thomas,

a-cowboys-promiseThis is the second novel of yours I’ve read and I’m just as, if not more, impressed. Realistic setting, believable characters, conflict that is centered on the hero and heroine and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, two young children I adored. I think I need to go take my temperature after writing that last bit.

Amy Olson’s back is to the wall when Matt Cartwright drives into her life. Appearing out of the blue one morning, with a stock trailer behind his fancy fig, she can’t imagine why he’s at her ranch. Unless he’s another person her dead husband owed money to. But if so, why has he brought three mares with him?

No one has wanted to board horses with her since her husband’s last purchase, the cutting horse with the impressive pedigree, went loco and kicked Ben in the chest. With no income, no job, a mortgage on the ranch, two young daughters and still saddled with Ben’s remaining gambling debts, her only hope is to get some training in order to obtain a job. What she’s going to do with Son of Sunshine, she has no idea. And now here’s a good looking cowboy showing up for goodness knows why.

Matt Cartwright quickly adds up the clues which equal a woman in need. But though he sympathizes with the shocking news that her husband is dead, he’s not about to let her out of the debt Ben owes him. $30,000 or stud services for his three mares from the stallion still in her barn. But when Amy tells him that the stallion caused Ben’s death, Matt knows that the breeding isn’t going to be as quick, or easy, as he’d hoped.

With no way to pay the debt, Amy grudgingly allows Matt to stay and work with the horse, trying to determine if SOS is a killer or just got spooked. In the meantime, she’s not above a little push and shove to get Matt to help look after her girls while she takes classes.

Amy’s past experience in marriage doesn’t make her want to rush into a second one, while Matt’s experience with a gold digger out for his father’s oil wealth has left him wary of needy females. She’s outraged at the thought that he thinks she’s after his money, while he’s hiding a secret that could end any feelings they have before they’ve barely begun.

Amy’s marriage hadn’t been good in a long time and she’s been a widow for five months so she can appreciate a good looking man who can fill out a pair of Wranglers. Matt likes what he sees too even if Amy isn’t the type who would normally appeal to him. But I like that neither goes tongue tied at the sight of the other. Amy still doesn’t think Matt’s idea to work with SOS is feasible while he hates the thought of having to stick around to get what’s owed him.

Yet, slowly but surely, Matt begins to see the hard worker Amy is, to admire her concrete plans to pay off Ben’s debts and build a secure future for herself and her daughters. He’s impressed that her neighbors check him out to be sure he’s okay and becomes defensive of her when a town bully slanders Amy’s name.

Against all hope, Amy watches as Matt works with SOS, bringing the stallion around and getting him to the point where perhaps she can sell the horse and pay off most of her debts. He’s a hardworking man, unlike the gambler she married or the dreamer her mother fell for. And he’s willing to lie about liking her cooking.

To his surprise, Matt discovers he’s good with kids. Well, he more or less has to learn when he’s roped into being a baby-sitter while Amy attends classes. And it’s these scenes which delighted me. Nothing feels hokey or forced. Matt still has moments when Lily and Rose ‘spin his end around.’ Times when he’s not quite sure how to deal with these two pint sized females but the trip watching him do it is funny and touching. And no kiddie lisping! Oh, thank you for that.

After starting a pot of coffee, Matt helped himself to a bowl of Wheaties. Halfway through his breakfast, Lily, with her blond curls sticking up in every direction, shuffled into the room, clutching a pink blanket and sucking her thumb. She paused next to Matt’s chair and studied him with her mother’s big brown eyes.

"Mornin’, Lily," he said.

The thumb popped out. "Mornin’," she mimicked, then popped the thumb back into her mouth.

"Ready for breakfast?"

The toddler moved to her high chair and waited to be hoisted up. Matt attempted to loosen the tray, but the task was beyond his cowboy capabilities. Admitting defeat, he laid the chair flat on the floor and slid Lily in feetfirst, then righted the seat. Her blanket was in the way of the safety buckle, so he grabbed it-’big mistake. The kid let out a wail that threatened to wake her dead relatives sleeping up the hill.

Matt improvised by flinging the blanket over Lily’s head, then snapping the buckle closed. When he went to tug the blanket off her, Lily shouted, "No!"

Now what? He knew zilch about two-year-olds. Did you offer them a choice of foods for breakfast or dump the cereal on the tray? "What do you want to eat, Lily?"

A muffled "Churos" answered back.

"Cheerios I can do, kid." He retrieved the cereal box from the pantry and poured a pile on the tray. Then he found the pink cup with the lid he’d seen the little girl use at mealtimes and filled it with milk. When Lily tugged the blanket off her head, her hair crackled with electricity. "Dig in." He shoveled a spoonful of soggy Wheaties into his mouth.

The toddler frowned, her eyes shifting to Matt, then to the cereal. "You have to stop sucking your thumb to eat, Lily."

She sucked the digit harder. Amy’s voice-’her sharp tone signaling that Rose wasn’t cooperating-’carried into the kitchen. "Sounds like Mommy’s in a baaad mood, kiddo. I’d eat if I were you."

The threat went unheeded. The little twerp’s cheeks continued to puff in and out as she sucked her thumb and rubbed the corner of the blanket against her nose.

Matt stared.

Lily stared.

They were at an impasse.

Amused by the child’s stubbornness, he picked up a Cheerio from the tray and aimed it at her mouth. "Catch," he said. The cereal ricocheted off her nose and her eyes crossed. "Strike one," he muttered, picking up another Cheerio. "Catch." This time the oat ring pinged off her forehead. The kid’s lips twitched.

"Try to catch the Cheerio in your mouth." Matt missed her mouth and the Cheerio landed in her hair. Lily giggled.

He got caught up in the game and began firing Cheerios in quick succession, which earned him a belly laugh from Lily. When her thumb slid out of her mouth, Matt landed a piece of cereal on her tongue. Lily’s eyes rounded, then she closed her mouth and chewed. As soon as she swallowed, she said, "Again," and opened her mouth.

Matt praised her while he tossed Cheerios. She’d finished half the cereal on the tray when Amy waltzed into the room. Her stunned gaze switched between Matt and her daughter, who had Cheerios stuck in her hair. "What are you doing? She’s not a dog you throw treats to."

"I wanna play." Rose climbed onto the chair across from Matt, leaned over the table and opened her mouth.

"Rose, stop. You know better. Obviously Mr. Cartwright does not."

They were back to Mr. Cartwright again? "Sorry," Matt muttered, wondering if Amy intended to spank him-’now that had possibilities. He admired her backside as she popped a waffle into the toaster. She must have sensed his scrutiny because she glanced over her shoulder and caught him focusing on her fanny. Despite the pretty blush suffusing her cheeks, her eyes flashed a warning. He grinned. "No harm in looking."

"Looking at what, Mr. Matt?" Rose asked.

Your mother’s enticing derrière.

"Never mind. Rose, fetch the syrup bottle." Amy waltzed past the high chair and snatched Lily’s blanket. Not a sound of protest from the pipsqueak. Mothers made everything seem easy.

And he deals with bathroom oops and bath time hairstyling with shampoo. At first he might not be thrilled with suddenly being Mr. Mom, but Matt’s a natural at it.

There’s a peripheral villain in the story who is quickly defanged but most of the conflict centers on Matt and Amy. Most of their reasons for mistrust go back to their own lives and experiences and are nothing that a quick talk would eliminate.

I do have some qualms about Matt’s secret. When he finally tells Amy, she tries to ease him mind about it. Yes, he might not have been the only person who could have taken advantage of her husband. And if Matt hadn’t, then they would never have met. But he was raised better and he did. Plus I’m not sure that I’m persuaded that he’s convinced to let the matter drop. But once he does, I like that Amy holds her ground and makes sure that he’s not proposing to her out of pity or a sense of responsibility.

So, mark this day down as one for the ages. Jayne adores two toddlers in a romance novel. Maybe I’m being sucked into Harlequin’s baby centered world at long last? Hmmmm. Nah, I think it’s just Rose and Lily who charmed me in this charming story. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from an independent bookstore or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.