Book Review: The Last Cowboy

Before I start in on my review of The Last Cowboy I wanted to say a few thing. I don’t normally read books from the romance genre. In fact, this is only the first, possibly second, book that I have read from that genre. I used to avoid it like a plague. Romance books, and movies for that matter, were not for me. They were filled with far too many things I would prefer not to read about or see. I’m not into girly things so romance was not for me.Yes I am female and no I don’t like romance. Shocking, I know, but it is the truth.

So now you are wondering, why did I read a romance novel when I clearly don’t like the genre. Well there are a few reasons behind my decision.

  1. I’m a sucker for cowboys. It’s probably one of the big reasons I love Westerns, especially the classics. Who doesn’t appreciate a strong man in tight jeans, wearing a stetson hat, who has rugged good looks and a rock hard body in his arsenal. The kind that works from morning to night, and not just any work, but that back breaking kind of work that comes from living and working on a ranch. Sure his personality may be as rough as his chiseled chin but he does have a tender side buried in there somewhere, sometimes only shown around the animals they work with. Now see, I’ve gone off on a tangent about cowboys and I haven’t even gotten to the book yet!
  2. I am trying to expand my reading. For many years I have stuck solidly with the Fantasy genre, only occasionally venturing into others like Science Fiction and a bit of Historical Fiction as well. So it has become my new reading goal to read at least five books from the other genres to learn to appreciate not only different writing styles of the authors and genres but to immerse myself in books that have something more to offer then magic users and mythical creatures.
  3. Probably the most important reason is I won a contest over at Goodreads which is giving me a copy of the next book in the series, The Wrangler by Lindsay McKenna. Winning the fifth book in the Wyoming Series I was worried if I would be able to appreciate it without feeling lost. So after a bit of research I decided to pick up the fourth book, The Last Cowboy, as the main male character in that book is the twin brother of the main male character in The Wrangler. This way I would have a bit of insight into their relationship and not feel so totally lost.
  4. The final reason is, though I dislike my Kindle greatly, I am trying to take advantage of owning the device. So by downloading the Kindle version of The Last Cowboy I would need to force myself to use the dreaded piece of technology if I was to read the book. Yes, it could have put a negative outlook on the book by doing so but it was a change I was willing to take.

Now, with that out of the way let’s move on to the actual review of the book. Warning, this review may, and probably does, contain spoilers.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The story follows Slade McPhearson who is a cowboy struggling to keep his ranch afloat due to the recession. He has been running the ranch, which he co-owns with his twin brother Griff, since he was eighteen years old. On top of running the ranch he is also a champion endurance racer, taking great pride in his winning mustang stallion Thor. Training endurance riders and their horses helps him scrape by each month, but only just barely. But with his ranch teetering on foreclosure he needs to find a way to pay it off or lose what he has fought so hard to keep all these years.

Enter Dr. Jordana Lawton. A woman who is as passionate about her professional career as an emergency room doctor as she is about training her young mustang mare Stormy to become a champion endurance horse. After doing a great deal of research she decides to enlist Slade’s help. But first she and her mare have to past the first test, getting past his mistrust of females, both human and equine. After passing Slade’s initial inspection and agreeing to pay a large monthly fee for the training Jordana is ready to begin the next level of endurance training.

As the training progresses both Jordana and Slade are greeted with emotions and feelings they were not prepared for. Slade may hide himself behind a rough exterior but seeing the soft soft he uses around the horses tells Jordana that he is not as hard as he appears to be. One thing is certain, she will need to work hard to prove to this cowboy that she has what it takes to be a top endurance rider, and even harder to break through the walls he has placed around him.

Through tough training sessions Jordana feels this odd pull towards Slade. And the more he slowly opens up to him the more she wants to be there for him. Her concern is that he may not be feeling the same way about her that she is starting to feel about him. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. Slade is slowly falling for her, even if he doesn’t entirely understand how or why. His previous marriage had ended in a nasty divorce, one which broke him financially as well as emotionally. But now with this woman in his life, showing that she is stronger and tougher than she looks, Slade is hard pressed to find a reason not to fall for her. Except that her being from New York reminds him of his ex-wife.

It’s not until he is gored by his prized bull and rushed the hospital that things take on a new perspective. Jordana makes a huge decision to take Slade back to her house after his surgery so he can recover and get the quiet he needs, plus it keeps him away from his brother. Those two days open up Slade’s eyes to the woman he had been trying hard to not fall for. Seeing her life in a new light he is starting to look at her much differently. But with the foreclosure on his ranch still looming over his head, and now unable to ride in an upcoming race which the prize money could truly help him out, Slade is hit with yet another bought of bad luck.

On a crazy whim Jordana offers to ride his stallion in the race for him, since her own mare was injured during training, and she would give the prize money to him to help save his ranch. There is a battle of wills as Slade doesn’t think it’s a good idea, and Jordana is stubborn and convinced that she can do it. Tensions rise, but in the end Slade concedes to her and allows her to ride Thor. It’s during this time of training that their realization over their feelings for each other come to light and a single kiss on the cheek ignites it even more. But with his ranch at stake Slade must focus on his ranch and not the love growing for Jordana.

With her control over his fiery mustang stallion solidified Jordana only has one final hurdle to get over. And that is not only winning the race but in doing so defeating Slade’s biggest rival Curt Downing, a man who will do anything to win, including cheating. With everything on the line Jordana races to save the ranch of the man she loves but also to prove, not only to herself but everyone else, that she has what it takes to be a top endurance rider. Capturing the victory Jordana and Slade return to the ranch to finally let their love for each other turn physical.

The slow pace of their growing relationship allowed me as a non-romance reader to appreciate the flow of the story. Had it been rushed and more forced I would have been turned off completely. Among the growing love story is a mix of horse training, ranch work and sibling rivalry. The attention to details, flowing descriptions and steady pace of the story kept me reading, which resulting in my finishing the book only a day after starting it. The author has a wonderful way of wording things that allows you to truly picture the scene before you. The love growing between Slade and Jordana felt natural, as they both had other things to distract them from their feelings as well as fear that kept them at bay for a time. Having a large part of the story concentrate on the training of Jordana and her horse, the struggles of not only owning a ranch but keeping it away from the claws of the bank and small intrigues that were going on behind the scenes, made it a great read for me.

There were a few parts of the book that seems to repeat themselves, however these areas were small and so had a minimal affect on the overall flow of things. For regular readers of romance the book may not appeal to them as much due to the slow development of the relationship between the pair, however I would highly recommend this book to not only those who enjoy books of that genre, but those who like westerns as well as anyone looking for a great book to add to their collection. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series once I receive my copy.

View all my reviews over at Goodreads. And feel free to friend me over there as well.

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