25 March 2013

The Truth About Cowboys (Harlequin Superromance No. 743)


Synopsis: Erin Mackenzie considers herself a candidate for the Dumped by Cowboys Hall of Fame. Especially since she was stood up by rodeo cowboy Abe Cockburn, the father of her baby daughter, Maeve.

And then there’s another cowboy – Erin’s own father, rancher Kip Kay, who she’s never even met. Who’s never acknowledged her.

Erin makes a risky choice: she goes to Colorado to tell Abe about his daughter. And to tell Kip about his.

She goes to Colorado to find the truth about cowboys – and about fathers.

First line: No cowboys, vowed Erin Mackenzie.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Books, 1997; 298 pages; purchased at a library book sale.  

My thoughts: I’m still reeling a little bit by this emotional roller coaster of a book. Right off the bat, Erin is not your typical chaste, inexperienced heroine, and Abe is not your typical rich, arrogant hero, especially for a book written over ten years ago. Abe spots Erin in the stands at a rodeo and flirts with her. Their paths cross again at a dance later that night, where she learns he’s from Alta, Colorado – the same town her father is from. By the end of the night she’s ready to take him home with her. Something she’s apparently done before, to her mother’s disapproval.

Abe is a bullfighter, a rodeo clown. And I’m gonna make a confession here. Until I read this book, I’d never realized the bull rider and the bullfighter are two different things. Or people, rather. I thought those words were interchangeable. Also, my parents took me to a rodeo when I was very young, and a rodeo clown like Abe came up into the stands and scared the bejeezus out of me. I’ve had a strong disliking for clowns of any kind ever since.

Erin’s weakness is cowboys, who always dump her, and when Abe asks her to meet him at another rodeo a couple of months later, she hesitantly agrees. And when she goes to that rodeo and finds out he cancelled his appearance, she accepts that she’s been dumped once again. Except this time, the dumper has left her pregnant with his child.

Months later, Erin decides to go to Alta, Colorado, on a mission. Her father runs a working ranch that also takes vacationers, and she’s booked a week at the ranch, using a false last name.  She wants to meet her father, and she wants to find Abe and tell him he has a daughter.

A couple of times while reading this book, I’d see the Harlequin logo on the cover and be momentarily surprised. This book is definitely not a standard category romance. In fact, one of the characters at the ranch has named two dogs Gus and Call, and a horse Mouse, which though that book is never mentioned are obviously a nod to LONESOME DOVE. And the further I got into this book, the more Larry McMurtry’s book was brought to mind.

And you know how despite all the problems, obstacles, etc., the hero and heroine eventually make their declarations of mutual love and have their HEA, and that’s the end? Well not in this case. The book continued on for quite some time after that point, and I even wondered to myself disbelievingly if their relationship was going to fall apart after all. At times, it was downright depressing, with tragedy after tragedy, until you feel like you can’t stand it if one more thing goes wrong.

I think this book is going to be one of my favorite reads for this year. No, scratch that, one of my favorite reads, period. Ms. Early has a large back list, and I have lots of books to hunt down now.

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