Kissed By A Cowboy by Debra Clopton

kissedbyacowboy_clopton_thomasnelsonReeling from divorcing her philandering husband, Cassidy Starr arrives late at night to begin moving in to the Texas farmhouse she inherited from her beloved great aunt Roxie.  Jarrod Monahan, the cowboy-next-door, is quick to check on the lights over at the neighboring farmhouse that had been empty for five years.  While his arrival is timely, it is not an ideal way for Cassidy to encounter the man who had broken her young heart.  But it is fun for the reader…

Cassidy has returned to the town of Wishing Springs to turn her life around, filling it with various ventures involving fruit selling and a B&B.  After her failed marriage, she is determined to be fulfilled as a single woman, like her great aunt, and never marry again.  She is determined not to repeat the example set by her much divorced parents.

Cassidy had the sudden urge to try to bake him some cookies.  Not a good idea. (p206)

Jarrod regrets running scared when he kissed a teenage Cassidy, and has begun to feel the loneliness of a life focused solely on rebuilding the ranch his father nearly gambled away.  Cassidy’s return is a new challenge, as she constantly tries to resist his attempts to rebuild their friendship while hoping for more.

Between rattlesnakes, wild hogs and other critters, rustlers and roundups, festivals with fireworks, women matchmaking and men gathering at the local feed store, this contemporary romance has much in common with the historical western romances that are my more usual reading fare.  There is the humor I enjoy, the integrated faith that I appreciate, and the engaging hero and heroine as well as the wonderful secondary characters that I love.

Cassidy is endearing in her emotionally wounded, slightly accident prone way, and Jarrod is a stoic cowboy to crush on (if you crush on fictional characters) who finds himself nearly waxing poetic to the woman who he let get away.

“Have you ever seen anything so perfect?”

“Nope,” he said honestly. “Nothing.  And the lambs are cute too.”  Her eyes widened and he realized he’d actually said that out loud.  “I’m just telling it like I see it.” (p138)

Cassidy and Jarrod are at slightly different places with their faith, but both harbor a deep seated anger at the men whose actions put them through difficult times.  The possibility of a second chance at love (despite Cassidy’s desire to avoid any romantic entanglements) and the encouragement of friends and family, leads up to a wonderful scene where they are finally able to encourage each other to overcome this stumbling block of hate.

Cassidy went to church on Sunday.  Everyone had invited her, and after a little bit of thought she decided to go.  Through her divorce and the last couple of years when things had been so bad, she’d stopped going.  It had just seemed pointless.  Sitting there listening to the preacher talk about hope and that God loved her and…Okay, so, she knew he did.  And she believed, but she’d still felt like she was out here doing everything herself.  And she’d drifted away. (p131)

As this is the third book in a series, I was a little apprehensive about reading it first.  While there are some obviously recurring characters, including the main couples from the prior two stories, it did not suffer from my not having read them.  The secondary characters are a delight.  Jarrod’s brothers and their wives are charming, the people of the town are amusing, and the secondary romance of two of the older townspeople added so much to the story.

Debra Clopton’s writing is deceptively easy-going and quite approachable.  One of the things she does so well is giving the reader a consistently strong feel of the setting.  This was both helped and hindered, for me, by some of the word choices.  I could have done with a few less uses of “y’all” in the dialogue, while I was absolutely charmed by some fun turns of phrase in the narrative.

Holy smokin’ pine cones!  Cowboyin’ kept a body in shape. (p268)

This story was a delight to read.  Sprinkled with nice touches of humor, just the right amount of drama and action, integrated faith that is lived – not preached – by the characters, and a great blend of the daily life of a ranch and farm, secondary storylines, and the development of the primary relationship.  Definitely one I would recommend and I hope to read more from Debra Clopton.  4/5 stars.

Kissed By A Cowboy, a Four of Hearts Ranch Romance by Debra Clopton | Thomas Nelson, February 2016 | paperback, 312 pages

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in