Confession: this is my favorite kind of book. The entire story revolves around the romance. Each page asks: Will they or won't they? And of course they will because that's what makes it a romance. Plus, this title has the added bonus of being a Western Romance, and call me a sap, but that is my absolute favorite thing to read.
How a Cowboy Stole Her Heart is published (or rather, WILL be published in October) by Harlequin, and I requested the galley from Netgalley.com.
Clay Gregory’s known Megan Briggs her whole life, and he’s been plenty worried about her while she’s been getting medical treatment. Now she’s back home and hiding away on the family ranch.
Knowing the stubborn cowgirl won’t accept his help willingly, he invites her to a family wedding to help him
avoid his aunt’s matchmaking!
He plans to remind Meg she’s still the girl who can beat him in a horse race! But as she steps out in her curve-hugging red dress, her skills on a horse are suddenly the furthest thing from his mind.
When you go into a Harlequin romance, you can't expect it to be anything but what it's going to be. Harlequin is almost a genre unto itself. This was a cute, quick, feel-good read. Generally, a romance like this takes two people who are completely incompatible (a pet peave of mine), makes them fight for 200 pages, and then lets them have a hasty hook-up at the end. This book is no different, except I think Clay and Meg might actually be compatible.
Because Alward focused on the romance (though that could be argued because it seemed little more than attraction and long-time acquaintance) and the fallout of a devastating disease (recovering emotionally from cancer), I felt the characters were underdeveloped and single-dimensional. They each had one or two main qualities (the ones that usually make characters completely wrong for each other). Not having read the first books in this series, I didn't already know the characters and didn't have the advantage of knowing any character development and background that might have taken place in those books. Still, they were likable and I cared enough about them to see the book to the end.
And like I said, there is a secret formula to a Harlequin, and this book follows it perfectly.
I've probably said before what I think about cancer in literature. I think it's a tired, predictable, and cliche theme. (But don't confuse that with my feelings about cancer and those it affects in real life. Completely different). It's like so ten years ago. It's like reading about AIDS or something: twenty-five years too late. So I was a little surprised to see it here. I always say I like to read stories that could actually happen (one reason fantasy is so beyond my grasp), and cancer definitely happens to people, but in this book it almost seemed to overshadow the romance. And yeah, in real life it can do that. But are we trying to have a romance or are we trying to have a rally against cancer? So you can't have it both ways, Misty, but I learned that I don't like cancer in my romance.
One other small thing about the writing style. Alward tells the reader EXACTLY what to think and conclude and wastes a lot of her word count on it. I felt like halfway through every paragraph she would begin speaking loudly and slowly just in case I was too dumb to see what was happening. And after every paragraph I felt like she had patted me on the head.
But, overall, despite those few things, I enjoyed reading this book. My To-read list is long, and if I don't like something, I can't always put the time into it. I did like this, and I did finish it, and I will probably look for more of Alward's books.
Content: Unless swearing is excessive, it usually goes right over my head. Short of going back and looking, I don't think there was any in this book. There is no sex in this book, just a little bit of, as my 8 year old terms it when speaking of the reasons he hates teenagers, "making out, blah." It's not squeaky clean. I wouldn't recommend it to my sixteen year old neighbor, but I wouldn't think twice about recommending it to anyone over the age of twenty-three and a half.
3 1/2 of 5 festive pumpkins