Carly Bloom’s Big Bad Cowboy was one of my top 2018 reads, so my expectations for Cowboy Come Home were sky-high. The result? Big Bad Cowboy remains perfection from start to finish; Cowboy Come Home is better in parts than sum.
It held tropish-goodness-potential because reunited lovers, second-chance-at-love romance! Heroine Claire Kowalski loves stilettos, marketing, and her parents’ ranch, Rancho Canada Verde. Two years ago, she also loved ranch manager, Ford Jarvis, who loved and left her. Ford’s back, at her father’s behest, and the town of Big Verde has yet to witness a confrontation such as Claire and Ford’s. Claire is rightly in a rage and Ford is humbly contrite. Bloom’s ethos, however, is comic and her writing penchant is for nice people. Claire fumes and glares, but she’s a good-hearted soul who is still in love with Ford. Ford still loves Claire, but possesses internal obstacles to being with her, then and now. Add oodles of funny friends, neighbours, siblings, and parents who recognize how Claire and Ford “really” feel about each other and their reunion and eventual commitment is head-on, like a bull following the cape.
Bloom’s series continues to have great strengths: her ability to convey the Texas Hill Country setting; humour; and, a twisting of conventional “cowboy” tropes, feminist, vulnerable touches that surprise and delight. Cowboy Come Home possesses these as much as Big Bad Cowboy did. Where it weakens is pacing and that leaks into characterization like a noxious fluid in a clean culvert.
Claire’s rodeo-queen beauty and daddy’s princess upbringing should make her an unlikeable heroine. Au contraire, her humour, work ethic, and kindness work against stereotype. She easily forgives Ford his abandonment, but only after a hilarious scene in a flash flood and another involving an ornery cat and Ford in his birthday suit: mild embarrassment are enough to melt her heart and a generous heart it is too. Ford as personality is equally likeable: generous, caring, wounded. The memory of his sister’s loss make him vulnerable in ways one wouldn’t expect. His emotional reasons for running away from Claire make sense; the reason he tells himself, however, is puerile and silly and takes away from making the romance convincing. Hilarious scenes and great banter make up for the sluggishness of the road to the HEA. It takes forever for Claire and Ford to get together. The narrative stumbles along as if Bloom drove it like a start-stall car. I can’t say I loved Cowboy Come Home as much as I did Big Bad Cowboy, but I still adore Bloom’s humour and ethos and anticipate the next volume.With Miss Austen, we’d say Cowboy Come Home is “almost pretty,” Northanger Abbey.
Carly Bloom’s Cowboy Come Home is published by Forever. It was released in March and may be found at your preferred vendor. I received a copy from Forever.