The Cowboy Takes a Bride
Avon/March 27, 2012
Ex-champion bull rider-turned-cutting-horse cowboy Joe Daniels isn't quite sure how he ended up sleeping in a horse trough wearing nothing but his Stetson and cowboy boots. But now he's wide-awake, and a citified woman is glaring down at him. His goal? Get rid of her ASAP. The obstacle? Fighting the attraction he feels toward the blond-haired filly with the big, vulnerable eyes.
When out-of-work wedding planner Mariah Callahan learns that her estranged father has left her a rundown ranch in Jubilee, she has no choice but to accept it. Her goal? Redeem her career by planning local weddings. The obstacle? One emotionally wounded, hard-living cowboy who stirs her guilt, her heartstrings, and her long-burned cowgirl roots...
This was a funny and sweet romance with a cowboy who's still holding on to his past love and a city gal who's desperate to get back where she thinks she belongs. Most of the time it's light, showing how humor and kindness can make even the biggest problems seem smaller. But it does have some serious moments as Wilde allows the characters to reveal their fears, making them more real and less the stereo-typical cowboy and big city gal.
Mariah Callahan is in for a surprise when she heads to Texas to take possession of the ranch her estranged father left her after his death. She doesn't hesitate to leave Chicago since she is out of work and nearly out of money. What comes as even more of a surprise than her sudden inheritance is her neighbor, good-looking cowboy Joe Daniels.
Joe Daniels has had a couple of rough years. He's recently widowed and now he's lost his best friend. He lives for his horses, one in particular that is the legacy from Dutch Callahan, his best friend and Mariah's father. Joe's focus is on winning the next competition but he manages to make time for Mariah. It's interesting to see how Joe feels responsible for Mariah and when he begins to fall for her, it's a combination of that responsibility and the attraction that keeps him near Mariah. Joe's still holding on to the past but slowly lets go as he sees a possible future with Mariah. Even with his faults, Joe is one of those heroes that's easy to like.
The relationship between Mariah and Joe is there before they meet. The attraction is certainly there, but more than that, Joe is a link to Mariah's father. Mariah learns more about her father, much from Joe, which causes some jealousy and resentment on Mariah's part. I did like how their relationship developed from annoyance to genuine respect for each other. Mariah did go back and forth when deciding whether to stay or go. She kept changing her attitude from a "can do" attitude to a defeatist attitude. Once she made up her mind to make a go of the wedding planning in Jubilee she was a force to be reckoned with. Then a few setbacks had her ready to pick up and leave. She seemed to give up too easily after working so hard.
Small town charm envelopes Mariah, giving her hope in her new business venture. Joe is there to help her, along with the group of eclectic cowboys or "cutters" as they are known. I did like the setting even if it was the quintessential small ranching town with cowboys coming out of the woodwork. The antagonist is weak and really didn't add much to the story. He could have easily been replaced or cut out completely and not missed. He created some friction but it could have been achieved in other ways, saving us from his lackluster depiction.
The Cowboy Takes a Bride is a tender, often humorous romance. It's an easy read, and enjoyable if you like small town settings and cowboys.