Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: The Reluctant Cowgirl

The Reluctant Cowgirl
Christine Lynxwiler
Contemporary Inspirational Romance

McCord Sisters/Book 1

Barbour Books/April 2009

From the publisher's website ~

Actress Crystal McCord gave up the closness of her big family in order to make a name for herself on the New York City stage. But when life in the Big Apple turns sour, she follows a country road back to her parents' Arkansas ranch.

The last thing she expects to find in cowboy country is a new leading man. Still, she can't help but imagine handsome rancher Jeremy Buchanan in the role. Unfortunately, Jeremy's been burned by Crystal's type before. Or has he? Every time he thinks he knows her, the multi-faceted woman surprises him. Will the reluctant pair allow their hearts to guide them, or will their common stubborn pride keep them miles apart?

One of my favorite romance tropes it when either the hero or heroine leave their small hometown then come back years later, wondering why they left. Then they find that the reasons they first left no longer hold the same place of importance. The Reluctant Cowgirl is one of those stories. It's about a young woman who follows a dream to the big city only to find that when she goes homes years later, her dreams have changed.

Crystal McCord knows how much hard work it takes to make it on Broadway or even off Broadway. After her current role comes to a close and her love life takes a serious turn for the worse, she heads back to Arkansas to help out her family. She isn't happy about going but she feels a bit a drift after everything that happened in New York. Crystal has some ghosts to face back home and she's not in any hurry to face them. Right off I liked Crystal. She's a country girl in the big city and while the city has changed her to a certain degree, she's doesn't embrace the fast lifestyle of her roommate. Even though Crystal loves to perform, you do get the impression that she's not completely committed to the dream of Broadway. There's something missing from Crystal's life but she's afraid to admit it.

Jeremy Buchanan is a rancher and loves what he does. He would love it more if his ex-wife hadn't taken off with their daughter. Now he's busy trying to get his ranching operation going and find his daughter. Jeremy is the type of guy who tries to do the right thing. He's honest and open and easy to get to know. I thought he was a good fit for Crystal. He provided not only friendship to Crystal but also gives her another point of view outside of her family. Jeremy's search for his daughter was a test of his faith. The search did get a little slow at some points with Jeremy hiring a private investigator and Jeremy following leads. I was surprised that it took so long to get news coverage of the kidnapping.

The romance between Crystal and Jeremy starts off slowly with Jeremy helping Crystal at her family ranch. They start feeling comfortable in each others company, talking about their likes and dislikes, their hopes and their fears. Crystal still plans to return to New York and doesn't want to get serious with Jeremy. She wants them to be friends only. As Jeremy starts falling for Crystal he wants her to stay but he doesn't push her when the time comes to decide. I liked that he let her know how he felt but didn't resort to persuading her to stay, knowing it had to be Crystal's decision.

After Jeremy gets his daughter Beka back she doesn't fade into the background. She's there with him while he courts Crystal. Jeremy and Beka are a package deal and Crystal knows that. The search for Beka and her subsequent homecoming was a big part of the story. It did bring Jeremy and Crystal closer, having that common goal and then the happiness that comes from reaching that goal. There is also some matchmaking going on by Crystal's siblings. They are a close family who look out for each other. They're all worried about Crystal and want her to be happy and hope that maybe she would be happy with Jeremy and Beka. They don't push but they do encourage the relationship. It was sweet and funny to see Crystal and her siblings sharing that closeness that comes from growing up in a family that loves each other.

I wouldn't consider The Reluctant Cowgirl heavy on the preaching or scriptures. They are present and it's certainly a big part of the family's life but it's not just about going to church every Sunday. It's also about how you live your life the rest of the week and how God is there with you always, not just on Sunday. I thought Lynxwiler did a good job in showing how everyone deals with their problems differently but eventually they rely on God, family and good friends. Crystal had drifted away from the church but coming home, she is reminded of her former self and the way her life used to be.

Lynxwiler does an admiral job of showing how coming home can be a good thing and sometimes you have to face the past to move forward and embrace your future. The romance was sweet and tender with Jeremy and Crystal becoming good friends before they became a couple. That was important for them not only because of their religious beliefs but because they both had been hurt and betrayed by someone they loved. They needed that trust first before the serious romance.

The Reluctant Cowgirl is a thoughtful story with down-to-earth characters and a charming romance. The next book in the series, Cowgirl at Heart, is about Crystal's sister Elyse who is a dog whisperer. Elyse was funny but shy and unsure around men. She's an interesting character and I look forward to reading her story.

Rating: B+


  1. Nice review, Leslie :) It's always fun to enjoy a book. Hmmm, Wendy is right though, cowboys are definitively making a resurgence!

  2. This sounds like a nice book and I've seen it around. I'm still a bit reluctant to pick up inspirational books from unknown authors. I've read Deeane Gist and like her subtle style & wonderful accurate historical research.

  3. Nath ~ thanks! I like cowboys, both contemp & historical so I'm happy. :)

    Hils ~ I picked up a Deanne Gist book at the UBS after Wendy's review. Looking forward to reading it.