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Emily Carmichael, Maureen McKade, Patricia Potter & Jodi Thomas: How to Lasso a Cowboy

 

Crescent Blues Book Views Jove (Paperback), ISBN 0-515-13771-5

Book: Emily Carmichael Maureen McKade Patricia Potter & Jodi Thomas, How to Lasso a Cowboy
The four western-themed novellas in this anthology pair a touch of comedy with plenty of angst.

In Jodi Thomas' "Easy on the Heart," Cooper Adams loves his three maiden sisters dearly but hates their matchmaking meddling. Now they descend on his ranch determined to find a wife for him. On a trip to town with absent-minded Winnie, Cooper meets Mary, the sister of a Yankee shop owner. Cooper instantly finds himself drawn to the plain, frightened Mary, but her brother warns him to stay away. It seems someone wants to stir up trouble for Cooper. During the barn dance, word of cattle rustlers sends all the men straight to their horses leaving the women -- and Cooper's prized colt -- undefended.

The hero of "Coming Home" by Patricia Potter, Seth Sinclair, fights his way slowly from a Union prison in New York back to his family's Texas ranch, clinging to the memories of family. But a young woman with a rifle greets him, saying the land belongs to her father. In short order, Seth learns of his father's death and his brother Dillon's status as an outlaw. Seth soon discovers that a corrupt Army man named Delaney raised taxes on all the local land, forcing the original owners off and bringing in Union loyalists to populate the area. Seth hatches a plan to get his land back and clear his brother's name, but Elizabeth McGuire, the woman with the rifle, and Seth's traumatized young sister, Marilee, complicate matters.

In Emily Carmichael's "Tombstone Tess," all of Tess' hard work at being a good cowboy comes to naught in her father's eyes. From beyond the grave, he jerks her reins by stipulating that she must marry in six months or else forfeit the ranch she loves to the brother that abandoned the ranch at age 15, Sean. With a little convincing and the promise of $300 once Tess gets her hands on the deed to the ranch, she and a very drunk Joshua Ransom wed. Josh needs to attend to ranch concerns of his own, but he agrees to linger a while longer, finding himself drawn to the tough-as-nails woman who couldn't cook to save her life.

Teenaged Winston Taylor left home and his best friend, Caitlin Brice, after one sweet night in Maureen McKade's "Finding Home." He believed he spared her years of pain, but he left her heartbroken and with a baby that she miscarried a few months later. Now a telegram brings him back. Cait's father wanted Win break a stallion, the stallion that killed him. Cait would rather shoot the beast, but she needs the horse and his stud value to keep her ranch afloat. As Win stays on, he and Cait carefully begin to iron out all the pain from the past as they realize they both still love each other.

While each of the stories has its merits, the collection suffers from a sense of sameness -- a problem that might have been corrected by a simple change in story order. The first two stories, for example, cover very similar ground -- both set in Texas with Civil War overtones. Also, a couple of the authors repeatedly emphasize the plainness of their heroines, which got old pretty quick.

Jen Foote

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