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 Wendy the Super Librarian‘s review of Little Cowgirl On His Doorstep (Cadence Creek Cowboys #3) by Donna Alward
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Romance 05 Mar 13

Donna Alward is an author within the Harlequin Romance universe that has a prodigious output and I can usually count on her to deliver romances about nice people shouldering plenty of angst.  Her latest certainly doesn’t deviate from form.  Unfortunately, the more I thought about the elements of the backstory, the more I found myself annoyed.  Yeah, the heroine is a nice enough girl, but I went through the whole story feeling sorry for her sister.

Avery Spencer has come to Cadence Creek to introduce her baby niece, Nell, to her father.  The fly in the ointment?  Nell’s mother, Avery’s sister Crystal, never told Callum Shepard he was a Daddy.  Nell was the by-product of a one-night stand when Crystal and Callum hooked up at a mutual friend’s wedding.  Callum was using Crystal to get over a woman who did him wrong and Crystal was using Callum to hide the fact that she was in love with the groom.  Callum had made it very clear that he was only interested in a fling, and while Avery totally did not agree with her decision, Crystal used it as an excuse to not tell him she was pregnant.  Now that Crystal is dead, Avery is determined that Nell knows her father.

Callum is former military, still smarting over a final mission that went bad, and the fact that his last romantic relationship ended very, very badly.  So when Avery shows up on his doorstep, dropping the bombshell that he’s a Daddy to a four-month-old, he’s not exactly ready to roll out the welcome mat.  He’s suspicious, she’s hurt that he’s suspicious, but eventually they work around that somewhat and start spending time together for the sake of Nell.

On paper I should have enjoyed this story more than I did.  It reads very quickly, and I inhaled it in two sittings.  Avery’s a nice girl who wants to do the right thing and Callum has all the necessary baggage required of a Romance Novel Land Wounded Hero.  The next fly in the ointment?  Crystal.  The author stops short of slut-shaming her, but just barely.  Callum has an irresponsible one night stand and it’s brushed off because of how wounded he is.  Certainly I like that the author has Crystal shoulder some of the blame (she was using Callum just as much as he was using her) – but given that Crystal is now dead and not around to explain herself, she ends up holding the blame bag.

Also there’s the underlying comparisons constantly being made between the two sisters.  Crystal was a knock-out.  The kind of woman who was always put together, made up, and that men had to be either dead, blind, or gay not to notice.  Avery is also attractive, but in an unpretentious girl-next-door kind of way.  At the wedding Callum sees Avery and sees “forever,” then jumps right over her to Crystal who apparently screams, “good time girl.”  So if you look wholesome and like baking (Avery literally bakes cupcakes for a living!), you’re a girl our hero can marry.  If you dress nice, wear make-up, and look like a Playboy centerfold, you’re only good as one-night-stand material.  The author never comes out and says any of this – but it’s implied all the same.

Crystal, I’m sorry.

I’m really, really sorry.  If Romance Novel Land were a fair place, you’d still be alive so you could get your own damn happy ending.

Now, clearly I could be making way too much out of all of this.  Like I said, the author has both Callum and Crystal shoulder “the blame” and nobody ever comes out and calls Crystal a whore – it’s almost more insidious than that.  It’s entirely possible that I’m finding messages that have no business being found, but yeah – as “nice” as Avery was, it would have been a lot more fun and subversive to read about a heroine like Crystal.  A heroine who everyone dismisses because of her looks, a heroine who is viewed as only being good for one thing and one thing only.  Instead it’s Goody-Goody Sis who bags the wounded cowboy.  How disappointing.

Wendy TSLGrade: D+


Little cowgirl makes three

For Avery Spencer, the sight of rugged, sullen and dangerously sexy Callum Shepard is enough to set her pulse racing. Too bad she’s only on his ranch to tell him that her adorable baby niece is his daughter!

Reclusive rancher Callum is shocked to discover he’s a father. But now Callum must learn to believe he does have what it takes to become a dad, and convince Avery that both she and baby Nell belong on the ranch—with him!

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series: