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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review: Stone Cold Cowboy by Jennifer Ryan

Another new to me author and this one has a familiar feel, but it’s not what you think!

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: February 23, 2016

Sadie Higgins has a bad habit of bailing her brother out of trouble. But when he rustles a herd of cattle from the tough, honorable Kendrick brothers, it's Sadie who's in for it. Because the cowboy tracking them down is big, silent, and forbidding as hell.

Rory Kendrick is on the hunt to find out who's been stealing from him. When he stumbles upon Sadie in the woods, he barely recognizes the quiet, vulnerable beauty who has always taken his breath away. His mission shifts in an instant: He will do anything it takes to keep her safe . . . and make her his.

Sadie has always protected her family—no matter the price. But when Rory ropes her heart, she's forced to take a look at her life and make a dangerous choice—one that could cost, or gain, her everything.

Basically Sadie Higgins’ loyalty to family has gotten her into some serious trouble. When she catches her brother stealing cattle from the Kendrick family she tries to stop him but is left in a bad situation in the woods. And when Rory Kendrick comes looking for the missing cattle he finds Sadie instead and gets involved with more than finding out who has been stealing his family’s cattle.

Stone Cold Cowboy was the first book by Jennifer Ryan that I’ve read and I liked it. It felt familiar in a good way and had me smiling all the way through.

The plot was well written and well developed and to be completely honest, felt like a modern version of an old Western tv show called Bonanza which is one of my favorite shows ever. The Kendrick brothers were like the Cartwright family, honorable, imperfect and close. They worked hard for what they had and never looked down their nose at people less fortunate. That’s what drew me to this story and the quiet but completely reliable Rory. My favorite thing about this character is that he’s such a strong man but the huge responsibility of overseeing a large ranch and caring for his family is starting to wear him out. He doesn’t have time for himself at all yet he continues to be this responsible, caring guy. It’s tough not to fall for someone like that.

Sadie was a bit tougher to like for me. I admired her loyalty to her brother but at some point that loyalty becomes stupidity and a death wish when it becomes clear that her brother just doesn’t care about her or her safety. She was stubborn and hell bent on doing things alone even when it was clear she couldn’t handle things alone. I like an independent heroine but being independent and tough also means knowing when you’ve hit your limit and need the help being offered. She had moments of being a damsel in distress but then she also had moments of standing her ground with Rory who had a talent for steamrollering over people when he wanted to take care of them.

Jennifer Ryan did such a good job of creating such a stark contrast between Sadie’s loyalty to her family and Rory’s. Both characters loved their family and took responsibility of them but Sadie’s love and loyalty almost got her killed because her family wasn’t worth the effort. Rory’s family by contrast gave that love and loyalty back to him. I loved how well the differences between the two characters’ families were showcased; it was subtle but gave some good backbone to the story and to Rory and Sadie’s personalities. It wasn’t all soft emotions and family history, Sadie’s brother and his criminal activities provided a lot of action, suspense and drama throughout the story and while Sadie loved her brother, I couldn’t find one redeeming quality in the booger. I kept thinking Throw his worthless butt in jail! But that was part of the appeal of Stone Cold Cowboy, having a central conflict that endangers the main characters and any supporting characters.

There were quite a few supporting characters too. Characters from previous books made appearance but nothing major was spoiled for me and even though I wasn’t familiar with them, I still found this book easy to follow along with.

Final Verdict: Stone Cold Cowboy really had an old Western feel but it was all contemporary. Rory was pretty irresistible with that responsible, selfless, tough but still lonely personality. His romance with Sadie was well told, passionate and balanced out by conflicts brought on by Sadie’s brother. I definitely wouldn’t say “no” to the previous books nor would I hesitate to read future ones.

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