Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wishing for a Cowboy - Cheryl Pierson and Livia J. Washburn, eds.

Okay, I'm not really the target audience for this book, and most of you probably aren't, either. But I've always gone by the theory that if an author tells me a good story, I don't care what genre it is. Besides, my wife is one of the publishers of this anthology, but I didn't have anything to do with it, no editing, no proofreading, nothing. So I'm coming at it with a fresh eye.

The concept is pretty straightforward: Western romances centered around Christmas, with each story including some sort of food item, and naturally you'll find the recipes for each of them in the back of the book. Sort of like Livia's Fresh Baked Mystery novels.

The book opens with "A Christmas Miracle" by USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda. A beautiful saloon girl, a handsome doctor from back east, a sick toddler, a snowstorm . . . plenty of ingredients here for a heartwarming story, and it works well.

Cheryl Pierson's "Outlaw's Kiss" has an attention-catching opening with a wounded man collapsing on the heroine's doorstep. He's not a stranger, but rather a man she hates enough to think of him as Satan. But as she helps him through the danger that faces him, she has to ask herself if he might really be able to change. There's some nice suspense in this one.

Instead of the Old West frontier, the setting of Sarah J. McNeal's "A Husband for Christmas" is 1919 Wyoming, and she does an excellent job of capturing the era. Her hero is a little offbeat, too, a Native American auto mechanic, and those things combine to make this an interesting tale.

"Peaches" is Kathleen Rice Adams' first story, but it reads like the work of a polished professional. Adams takes a traditional plot, that of the rancher and the schoolmarm, and elevates it with some fine writing. This is like a John Wayne/Maureen O'Hara movie that was never made.

Jacquie Rogers' "A Gift for Rhoda" features a bounty hunter seeking out his parents, who he hasn't seen in years, but when he reaches their homestead in Idaho, he finds that they're not there but a beautiful blond mail order bride is. Likable characters and some nice action in this one.

In "Her Christmas Wish" by Tracy Garrett, two lovers who have been separated for years are reunited at an isolated stagecoach station on the Texas plains. Garrett makes excellent use of the setting, and you've got to like any story with a cattle stampede. Well, I do, anyway.

Tanya Hanson's "Covenant" finds a Nebraska homesteading couple dealing with tragedy and secrets in very different ways. This one has some good plot twists in it and characters you can't help but root for.

The book wraps up with Livia's story "Charlie's Pie" and is set not far from where we live. You've got outlaws, Texas Rangers, a mysterious stranger, a strong heroine, and pecan pie. Sounds good to me.

As I said, I'm not the target audience for this book and never will be, but the stories are well written, funny at times, heartwarming at others, and I enjoyed them. WISHING FOR A COWBOY is available in both e-book and trade paperback editions. I'm looking forward to seeing what Prairie Rose Publications comes up with next.


Cheryl Pierson said...

Thank you, James. We appreciate your review!

Kathleen Rice Adams said...

James, you are a sweetheart to review the anthology. I'm a bit speechless, so I'll just ... um ... not speak. :-)

Tanya Hanson said...

Thanks for the shout-out, James, and your kind words about our stories. And most of all, for reading them! Good romance works for either gender LOL.

Jacquie Rogers said...

James, you've just done the impossible--rendered Tex speechless. LOL. Thanks for reviewing our anthology, and for you kind words. I appreciate it, and I know the other authors do, too.