One thing I learned living in Texas is that any man can wear a hat and boots, but that doesn’t make him a cowboy. Cowboys are loyal and protective. They keep chivalry alive and will help just about anyone in need. They play hard, work even harder. And they love the women in their lives something fierce. Dawson, my friends, is a real cowboy!
Here’s my problem though—I hate Annabelle, the heroine. She’s mean. The only person she’s nice to is Dawson’s mom. She’s a snob. I don’t believe she’d be able to find a happily ever after with a cowboy because she would say, “ew he’s dirty” every time he had to go check on the cows. Throughout the book, every character thought that she had always looked down on the town and everyone in it, so I don’t want her to be with my book boyfriend or spend any time with his awesome family.
I’m irritated because Dawson deserved better! He just kept taking her crap and coming back for more. I understand wanting to be charitable and helpful, but I mean come on! Annabelle needs (fill in the blank) - Dawson to the rescue. Even though she would blast him with attitude every single freaking time he showed up, he would somehow talk her into accepting what he was trying to do for her. But I think he should’ve left her to fend for herself and die alone in her grandmother’s house.
I did like the premise, most of the secondary characters, and I thought the plot line was interesting. However, I would’ve liked to be introduced to the details of the mystery a bit slower. It seemed like almost every piece of the puzzle and the players in this game of cat and mouse were revealed too early.
At first, I had a hard time following along. I had to slow down and really concentrate. I blamed it on all the head hopping, but eventually I realized it was the info dumps. So. Many. Info dumps. For example, during one about the sheriff, I learn about their spouse as well. I made the assumption that this would be important later (the spouse’s knowledge would help find something/ solve a clue) but I don’t remember another mention of this person.
Probably my absolute number one pet peeve while reading is REPEAT info dumps. It wasn’t a good idea to throw the character’s life story at me the first time they were introduced, so please don’t play sad reruns of the same details every time they show up in the story.
I also didn’t see any new feelings developing. Not one. The story is ex-lovers constantly battling the hurt of breaking apart years ago. They internally explored the love they once felt and hurt feelings from the breakup, but I didn’t see any character growth driving them toward a reconciliation. I feel like the HEA is a Happy For Now, because they haven’t seen each other for years and didn’t learn enough about each other NOW for me to believe they will stay together forever.
This book is part of a series, but sadly it didn’t make me yearn to find out what happens with the other Clementine sisters.
Full disclosure: We received an ARC from NetGalley, free of charge.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
It’s pretty stigma-y. A stint in rehab wouldn’t hurt.
Other reading suggestions
I think we can all agree that Carolyn Brown and “cowboys” are kind of synonymous. You can’t go wrong picking up one of her books. I liked Harper Sloan’s Cowboy Up, too.