Thursday, February 7, 2013

THE COWBOY by Joan Johnston

Publisher:   Bantam-Dell
Date published:   February 2000
ISBN:  978-0440223801
Genre:   Contemporary Western
Book format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Library
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Defying their parents’ edicts Trace Blackthorne and Callie Creed find love on a college campus. Because of a centuries old feud they consummated their love but have not shared it with either of their families. Callie is on the verge of telling Trace a secret that could turn the tide for their families or tear them further apart when she receives a troubling phone call. Her brother Sam has been injured in a football accident. Worse, the accident was caused by Trace’s brother Owen. Unable to share her grief with Trace Callie shuts him out. Trace in turn moves on with his life not in Texas but traveling the world seeking to heal his wounded heart.

Eleven years later Trace returns to Bitter Creek because his father has had a heart attack. While his two brothers and sister live closer to home, Trace is the only one who can truly take on the reins of the ranch until his father is once again back in the saddle. Before long though his path crosses Callie’s and one by one the secrets that could have kept them together pull them further apart.

But grief and sadness follow in Callie’s path. At each turn Trace is there to pick up the pieces that fall from her life. When her parents are shot the entire Creed family blames Trace’s and most particularly his father. They love each other, but will the feud that has ruled the Creeds and Blackthornes continue to tear them apart?

I recently received Joan Johnston’s WYOMING BRIDE for reviewed and noted it is the most recent release in her Bitter Creek Series. Wanting feel for the characters and history of the series I picked up the first entry, THE COWBOY. Actually, while I was waiting for THE COWBOY to arrive I read her BAREFOOT BRIDE and in the first few pages was reminded why I not only love romance, but western romance, be it historical or contemporary. The genre alone is enough to spark my interest in a story—when an author tells a story the way Ms. Johnston does, I become hooked on the writer. THE COWBOY is everything I look for in a romance: a hero you’d want for your own, a heroine you wish was yourself, a forbidden love that drives them apart and yet is strong enough to bring them back together stronger than ever. Interesting secondary characters, action, a bit of mystery and drama. Joan Johnston tells such a good story that I’ve resolved myself to either waiting until I can stay up all night reading so I can read cover to cover without stopping or spending some days wishing I hadn’t convinced myself the night before.

Even with the ROMEO AND JULILET framework of the story THE COWOBY has some wonderful twists and turns which, when they include secondary characters you can only hope for their story to follow.

The romance is well done. The love is strong and abiding on its own and develops in a natural progression—there is none of the boy meets girl, couple has sex and are instantly in love. It ebbs and flows in a natural way culminating in a happily ever after.

If you haven’t read Joan Johnston you don’t know what you are missing. Before I read WYOMING bride I will be reading the entire series because it is that good.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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