Going Cowboy Crazy
by Katie Lane, contemporary (2011)
Grand Central Publishing, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-446-58278-0


Reading Katie Lane's debut effort Going Cowboy Crazy is like listening to Katy Perry's CD. I wasn't sure whether I would like it at first, especially since it contains plenty of elements that normally do not work well with me, but what do I know, soon I was singing out loud about dancing on tabletops, skinny dipping in the dark, and having a ménage à trois. It's the same with this book. I don't know what happened, but soon I was smiling along with the characters instead of wincing in pain.

The plot is pretty silly, though, and in fact, I'd go as far as to say that this story's biggest problem is that it tries to combine wacky comedy with more realistic types of emotions, but the result isn't as cohesive as it could have been. Anyway, the story. Faith Aldridge learns only recently that from her ill mother that she has a twin sister. Now that she is all alone in the world, the idea of reconnecting with a twin sister holds much appeal. Thus, here she is, in Bramble, Texas - a place that may as well be on Neptune as far as this city girl is concerned. Stuck in the world of honky-tonk machismo, mistaken for her twin sister Hope, and getting pulled into the town's business are not what she has in mind. Too bad the man who actually believes that she is not Hope, Slate Calhoun, is such an annoying, exasperating, arrogant, hot, studly, gorgeous, amazing... uh, anyway, he's supposed to be Hope's boyfriend anyway.

Don't worry, it's not that icky a situation - Hope and Slate are more like brothers and sisters than lovers, they have never gone past snogging stage, and it seems like the people of Bramble who are the ones more invested in seeing them married. With Faith, however, Slate feels like a cat on a hot tin roof. But can a relationship between them work out?

I normally find small town romances of this nature creepy than amusing, because whenever I come across a small town where everyone is bizarrely invested in matchmaking and even intervening to make sure that our hero and heroine get to make nice and happy, I can't help wondering whether it's because these people all worship the Devil and they want to make sure that the heroine bear the next Antichrist. However, Going Cowboy Crazy works for me, redneck stereotypes and all, and I actually find myself amused by the antics of these intrusive meddling fools. I suspect that it's because I'm vulnerable to the author's brand of comedy to the point that she could very well make a comedy starring a Greek tycoon and his pregnant mistress secretary work for me if she puts her mind to it.

As for our main characters, the first thing I notice is that the sexual tension is way off the roof. Seriously, this one is pretty hot in an over the top manner. Slate is a bit ridiculous as this hot-shot cowboy cliché, and to be honest, I find his sense of entitlement where women are concerned a bit of a turn-off. But he has a great thing going on here with Faith. It's chemistry that results from a chain reaction involving amusing repartee, luscious naughty scenes, and believable emotions. Yes, I find the romance believable despite it developing in a wacky atmosphere. Both Faith and Slate grow up a bit by the last page of this story, and they have to confront various issues that are in the way of their happily ever after in a way that... well, they aren't always sensible, but they do yell and let everything hang out before making up. So yes, I think they will do fine. As a plus, Faith may be a stereotypical prim and proper city girl at the surface, but she is actually refreshingly normal and likable. She can be silly, but then again, Slate is pretty silly too.

The last third of this story is actually a series of wrong assumptions, hasty judgments, and misunderstandings, but they are portrayed in a pretty believable manner. The drama that results seem like growing pains that new couples typically go through instead of contrived plot padding. That's how well Ms Lane manages to sell this story to me. I know there are plenty of things here that I normally have a hard time warming up to, but Ms Lane manages to sell me these things and convince me that I really, really, really adore them.

The only problem I have with this story is how it rather unevenly moves from wacky small town comedy to a more low-key emotional drama in the later parts, making me feel as if I've somehow picked up a different book without realizing it. But even then, I still entertained by those later parts. At the end of the day, it's safe to say that I'm indeed Going Cowboy Crazy!

Rating: 85


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