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REVIEW: A Cowboy’s Heart by Brenda Minton

Dear Ms. Minton,

0209-9780373875177-bigwI’ve just recently begun to watch bull riding on ESPN. Wow, I can see why it’s called one of the most exciting yet dangerous sports today. I’ve also put a few DVDs about the sport in my Netflix queue and was happy to see some of them featuring interviews with and information about the stockmen who supply bulls for the rodeos. It’s easy to see that these people take their job seriously and take care of the animals in their charge. So when I saw the description of your book, I knew I had to read it.

Willow Michaels has faced adversity for a lot of her life. Though born to a wealthy family, she learned early on that her hearing loss was a source of conflict and embarrassment to them. Her only true source of support came from her aunt Janie. After a failed marriage during which her husband also made her feel inadequate, she’s now seeing the results of five years of hard work to establish her own stock business. She’s proud of the bucking bulls she raises, the fact that she’s been accepted into this world and that she’s gained the respect of the people in it. What she doesn’t need is for her aunt to try and matchmake her with a cowboy Willow mooned over sixteen years ago.

Clint Cameron has his own set of problems to face. He’s worked for years in the oil fields of Texas for the money to rebuild the ranch his alcoholic father ran into the ground. And though at age thirty-two he’s old for the sport, he’s following another dream of being a pro bull rider. When his younger sister phones to tell him she’s been called up to Iraq, Clint adds the care of his two young nephews to his list. He’s always been a “fixer,” trying to help those he feels need a hand, but he’s just about at his breaking point. Dealing with a touchy woman who makes it plain she doesn’t want his help is something he’s happy to avoid. Or so he tells himself.

Willow is obviously hard working, conscientious and knowledgeable about her business. Even though it’s pouring down rain or six o’clock in the morning, stock needs to be cared for and Willow makes sure it’s done. Her duty to her bulls doesn’t end when they’re in the pens at a a rodeo and if the finicky bull who only likes distilled water is thirsty, Willow will gladly see to his needs. I’ll be honest and say I was hoping for more scenes of Willow at work on her ranch and at rodeo events. More “behind the scenes” kind of stuff. What you include shows attention to detail though, and I appreciate that.

Clint is a cowboy through and through. He’s not been home for a while but home has never been far from his heart and all he really wants is to work the land his family has owned for generations. He loves working with stock, rides a cowboy horse and when he sees something that needs doing, he does it with no fanfare. His boots are worn but not worn down, while his heart is a mile wide. I was sorry to read so little of his dream of riding bulls but after watching highlights of actual events, his injuries appear to be all too common among the competitors. This ain’t no sport for sissies.

I’ve said before that children, especially very young children, in romance books generally give me hives. Surprisingly, Timmy and David didn’t. They act and speak like four year olds. And they don’t lisp. I can’t express how much I appreciate that. They’re good boys who act up a little like even good boys will. They miss their mother and they hear far more than adults like to think. They also process what they hear as children will do and react accordingly. But even though I like the boys, I think too much time was spent on “aw shucks, that’s so cute” moments or “aren’t they brave little boys” scenes.

I can understand Willow’s reluctance to admit to her worsening hearing loss and her choice to put off learning more bad news, even if only to preserve one last weekend of happiness. I can be the queen of putting things off until tomorrow and have recently watched a friend struggle with hearing bad news over these past winter holidays. I think you show quite well her coming to terms with the issue and making the choice of how she’ll proceed from there. I also admire her desire to be accepted in her chosen field and how hard she’s worked for it. Her admission that accepting help might not make her look weaker takes a while but when it arrives, I can believe in it.

I like that Clint and Willow take their time with their relationship. It’s not instant “hearts in their eyes” with these two. Both are aware of not taking things too quickly and neither wants to see their friendship at risk. Clint finally finds a way to help Willow that still allows her to retain her independence while Willow sees that two can be even stronger than one alone. And when they talk about forever, I know that they’re prepared for the bumps in the road as well as for the smooth stretches.

There are some things I might wish for from this book but overall, I enjoyed it. It’s a nice, contemporary western that adds an underlying plot foundation rarely seen in romance books. I imagine that you’re going to tell the tale of Clint’s injured Army sister next and I have a good idea who her hero will be. I’ll be waiting. B-

~Jayne

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

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

13 Comments

  1. Zoe Archer
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 13:10:42

    When we’re flipping around on the tv, and my husband settles on PBR, I generally don’t complain because I enjoy watching those tasty cowboys (even though I feel like a bit of a cougar for leering at them). But, have you seen the arms on those boys? Nom.

  2. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 13:30:16

    Oh yes, I enjoy watching the cowboys before, during and after their bull rides! Guess that makes me a cougar too. And despite the awful injuries they sustain (just listen to Adriano Moraes point out all of his career injuries), they do have lovely physiques.

  3. Mary B.
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 14:22:32

    I have two little boys, which is all the excuse I need to watch bullriding.

    Love me some cowboys! Good heavens but they look good in their jeans.

    But I’d never let my boys do it. I live in Texas and I know too many many with horrific injuries and scars from riding bulls.

  4. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 14:34:13

    Oh I don’t see how the wives/mothers of these riders can be able to sit and watch the competition. I saw an interview with Justin McBride’s grandmother about the death of her husband while bullriding. He (McBride) just kind of sat there, a bit stunned, as he watched her get choked up about that past event and how much she worries about him, her grandson. This definitely seems to be a a young man’s sport and one that wears the men out quickly – something that’s mentioned here in the age of the hero, Clint.

  5. Kay Sisk
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 14:38:03

    Jayne:

    If you haven’t added “8 Seconds” to your Netflix queue, do so. Great movie.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109021/

  6. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 14:41:35

    I’ve been looking at this movie and wondering if it would be too “heartwarming” in that cloying way Hollywood can do with movies. Thanks for the rec. I’ll give it a try.

  7. Zoe Archer
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 18:07:27

    @Jayne: Is it wrong to objectify those guys? My head says yes, but my eyes say no. Especially when Guillermo Marchi rides….

  8. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 18:42:31

    The answer to your question, Zoe, is NO. I say objectify away, girlfriend. And that is one fine man to watch…mmmm, mmmm.

  9. Mary Winter
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 21:35:35

    Is this a recent release? My gran gets these books (my uncle used to ride rodeo, broncs & bulls so yes, we understand all too well watching him compete and worrying). I might have to pick this one up. :) Me, I’m far more partial to the steer wrestlers and ropers. But I’ll admit that I love watching the NFR so long as Cimmeron Gerke is riding bareback broncs. I think he’s like 9 years younger than I am. Yeah, that so makes me feel like a cougar. LOL! Rawr!

  10. Jayne
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 06:28:15

    Yes, it’s a current release this month. I used to find these “Love Insipired” books in the inspirational section of my local Waldenbooks (which just closed – boo!). But they might also be in the categories.

  11. Kate Pearce
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 22:29:51

    I’m a big fan of PBR too, actually got to go to the World Finals in Las Vegas a couple of years ago and got a whole load of autographs. My 3 cowboy books for Virgin ‘Cheek’ also feature PBR and National rodeos association guys–yummy.

  12. Jayne
    Mar 07, 2009 @ 08:36:50

    Kay, I just wanted to thank you for recommending “8 Seconds.” I’m not a great Luke Perry fan and can only take that Baldwin brother in small doses so I’d never seriously looked into seeing it. Plus Hollywood loves to pull out the violins and tug at heartstrings a bit much for me sometimes. But this movie was really good and I would have missed it except for you. ;)

  13. Kay Sisk
    Mar 07, 2009 @ 09:17:19

    Jayne: Glad you liked it.

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