Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: Once A Cowboy -- by Linda Warren

I have to own up that until recently I have really not been much of a fan of cowboys and their presence in American romance fiction. But having read quite a number of Beth Williamson's books set in the 19th century Old West, Lorelei James' and Cat Johnson's series on contemporary rodeo cowboys, I have to admit that I have become far more a fan that I had ever expected.
Linda Warren has given us a story that is built around a retired, world champion bull rider named Brodie Hayes and a private investigator and former policewoman named Alex Donovan and set in contemporary Dallas, Texas. Their lives are brought together when a Mrs. Helen Braxton who has seen photos of Brodie in the news and has come to believe that he is her son who was abducted from the newborn nursery two days after his birth, 40 years earlier. Alex takes this case with the intent of discreetly gaining Brodie's DNA and helping Mrs. Braxton get over her ill-placed obsession. Needless to say, the case doesn't quite work out that way.
Against the advice of her father & partner in the PI firm, Alex gradually becomes emotionally involved as she is drawn into the pain of both the Braxton family as their long-term grief and loss, and Brodie's horror at finding out that his mother had abducted him and taken him to Germany to live with his military father after the death of the real Brodie Hayes. Working through his disappointment and disillusionment, coupled with the death of the woman he thought to be his mother, Brodie must find out who he is and how he can move on into the future. He is not sure he can establish a relationship with the Braxtons after all this time, but his journey of discovery as well as his growing attachment to Alex and their romantic involvement are the substance of this story.
This is very nice romance novel and Linda Warren has populated this story with some very colorful characters that form a very interesting background to the Alex/Brodie story. Few of us can imagine a grandmother like Naddy, a father who growls and grumps more than he praises, but they are family to Alex and because of them she has grown into an independent and sensitive woman. I appreciated the fact that Warren kept the "inner conversations" to a readable minimum -- I really dislike books that go on and on and on -- while giving the reader sufficient information to develop both the characters and the plot. This is not an overly long novel but is a nice length and will do nicely for those who want a good story without a huge time commitment. I liked Brodie a lot, thought Alex handled her family with a great deal of wit and understanding, and was delighted to see how Brodie managed the challenges he faced.
Historically, Harlequin has been known as the source of lightweight romance novels. But in recent years they have been publishing some really great books and this is a very nice example of good writing and good reading. I think romance fans will like this book a lot. I give this book a rating of 3.75 out of 5.


Tracy said...

I have this one and had no idea that it was a baby abduction story. Huh. Shows ya what I know. lol Great review.

Hilcia said...

Great review, DrJ. I read this one last year and enjoyed most of it. I was a bit put off by the rather large coincidence at the end that gives Alex & Brodie so much in common... but as a whole I enjoyed the book itself.

Soooo glad you're enjoying cowboys these days. ;P Love those Lorelei James bad boys. *g*