The Courting Cowboy
by Glenna McReynolds, contemporary (1993)
Loveswept, $3.50, ISBN 0-553-44355-0
The Courting Cowboy is a familiar story of a single father falling for the woman who easily falls into the role of caring for his kid. We have Ty Garrett, a "rough-edged" rancher, who is attracted to Victoria Willoughby, his son's teacher. Alas, Victoria seems to have stepped out of a romance novel from the 1970s, when romance heroines were lobotomized princesses who were driven to hysterical tears upon experiencing desire for the first time, so he has his work cut out for him.
As you can surely tell by now, the heroine is too ridiculous for me. She is a cliché from the very beginning, what with her marrying her much older mentor and spending the rest of her life perfectly incapable of experiencing any semblance of normal human emotion. This late husband of hers predictably was a bit on the frigid side, causing Victoria to believe that she will cause the world to come to a bad end if she ever experiences an orgasm. What makes her painful and even grating on the nerves to follow is that she behaves more like a woman on the brink of nervous breakdown than anything else. Victoria is rarely in control here - she seems incapable of doing even the smallest and most mundane thing without threatening to fall apart. Given how in this story she is trying to establish a school, she's constantly walking on egg shells here. By the middle of this book, I'm starting to think that it will be an act of mercy to put Victoria out of her misery for good.
"Actually, I'm not trying to frighten you," she said, her voice full of hesitation. "I have... you see, a rather unsuspected... libidinous nature."
Seriously, which 20th century woman speaks like that?
I know, school teachers can be some of the weirdest people around. Most of the most insane American Idol fans that stalk the contestants and trample little girls in their rush to touch the contestants in a public meet-and-greet are crazy school teachers. But that doesn't mean that they have the right to impose in romance novels, no?
As for Ty, I like him for the first few pages, but then he loses me when he openly falls asleep while Victoria is addressing him and other parents in the PTA meeting and having the cheek to tell her that he's had a most refreshing nap. There's being naughty in a charming way, and then there's being rude and gauche, and far too often Ty's behavior falls into the second category. More annoyingly, he has no problems leading Victoria on and sleeping with her, knowing full well that this crazy woman would surely equate a shag to a wedding proposal complete with doves and what not, while having doubts about giving her the commitment she seeks. Of course, he can't commit to her for her own good - she deserves better than a rancher who smells of cows and sweat, after all!
The hero is boring and occasionally boorish, and the ridiculously high-maintenance heroine seems to have crawled out of a spacecraft from a different planet because none of her emotions, thought processes, and behavior feel real, like that of a contemporary woman's. If this one seems like a very contrived and artificial tale of a lobotomized emu being saved from herself by a clichéd hero, that's because that is exactly what this book is.
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