REVIEW: A Cowboy Comes Home by Barbara DunlopThursday, January 26, 2012 1:00
Wendy the Super Librarian‘s review of A Cowboy Comes Home (Colorado Cattle Barons, Book 1) by Barbara Dunlop
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Desire 03 Jan 12
Books like this one seriously depress me. On the surface, it has a lot going for it. We have a sexy guy on the cover, a cowboy that returns to his hometown many years after leaving, it’s the first book in a projected series, and on top of the whole “reunion”-vibe, the hero falls for the sexy girl next door. Seriously, I couldn’t download this one fast enough. Unfortunately, it seriously flubs on the execution.
Caleb Terrell left home at 17 and didn’t look back. Naturally he turns out to be one of those 27-year-old global CEO-types that proliferate in Romance Novel Land. Anyhoo, his asshole daddy (the reason he left home in the first place) has finally kicked the bucket. But the old man is still causing chaos from beyond the grave. Instead of leaving the family ranch to Caleb’s fraternal twin brother, Reed – you know, the one who stayed behind even though Caleb begged him to come with him? Yeah, the old man left the ranch to Caleb. Sick jerk-wad that he was.
Mandy Jacobs is worried about her neighbor and BFF, Reed. He hasn’t been seen since his father’s funeral, and now his estranged brother is in town. Caleb had plans to sign over the ranch to Reed, what with him staying behind and putting up with their old man for ten years. But now that Reed has vanished? With only a snotty note left behind? Yeah, Caleb can’t sell the place fast enough and get back to his life in Chicago. Standing in his way? Mandy. Who isn’t about to let him up and sell the place while Reed is off pouting.
This book suffers from what I call Hero Logic. The backstory of Caleb’s rotten childhood is certainly compelling stuff, and even if my eyes were rolling excessively at a globe-trottin’ 27-year-old CEO, you can’t help but admire his work ethic. Unfortunately, he’s also a jerk. He’s all set to just turn the ranch over to Reed. But because Reed isn’t waiting for him when he gets there? Yeah, Caleb takes this to mean that Reed must not want the ranch, so hey, he’ll just sell it and give the money to him. Seriously, I’ve met rocks smarter than Caleb.
Mandy’s a nice enough girl, even though her meddling does get tiresome. I like that she has a sharp tongue and doesn’t let Caleb walk all over the situation. The first chapter in particular is really good stuff, with Mandy giving as good as she gets.
Ultimately, though, the problem with this book is that it’s a Desire (so less than 200 pages) that is the first book in what I’m assuming is going to be a long series. There’s too much noise surrounding the romance. Mandy has six siblings, three of whom get quite a bit of lip service here, plus a sister in New York who’s mentioned more than once. Then you have Caleb’s sexy, high-powered lawyer showing up. Oh, and, of course, a mysterious private investigator gets name-dropped once said lawyer convinces Mandy to hire him to find Reed. There’s also Mandy’s parents, a local gal they run into at the rodeo, and so on and so on. I can appreciate that the author needs to set up the series, but, seriously, do all these people need to be in this book? Uh, no. And because they are, that means we spend less time on what the reader really cares about – the romance between Caleb and Mandy.
So, at the end of the day, I’m depressed. Granted, I could just be hitting a wall with series, because there are moments here that really sparkle for me. But then the noise would intrude, or Caleb’s Hero Logic would kick in, and I couldn’t slog through the rest of the book fast enough. Reed’s book is up next, and given that he does run away to pout instead of confronting his estranged brother? Yeah, not interested. Moving on.
At a Crossroads
After years of being the black sheep, an unexpected inheritance has finally drawn Caleb Terrell home. But that doesn’t mean the cowboy-turned-CEO plans to settle down on his family’s Colorado ranch. His single-minded goal is to sell and get out… until he’s reunited with the sexy girl next door, Mandy Jacobs.
Her mere presence reminds him of happier times. Denying Many seems impossible, but seducing her can lead only to heartbreak. There’s no room in Caleb’s agenda for such a delectable distraction. Because once he gives in to temptation, he may not be able to walk away.
Other books in this series: