Every time a discussion of westerns comes up, I am always bemoaning the fact that there aren’t enough, historical or contemporary. So when My One True Cowbody by Soraya Lane crossed my desk, I jumped at the chance to review it.
Angelina Ford is a trust-fund baby, born on a wealthy ranch in Texas. She was determined that she will not use her trust fund for anything. Starting from scratch, she builds up a tremendously successful company in LA and gets her name talked about as an entrepreneur to watch out for. Now she is back in Texas, ostensibly for Father’s Day, but in reality, because she lost her business and she is financially broke and heartbroken; she’s even planning on selling her dream home. At her family ranch, she is hoping to spend time with her beloved father, who is battling terminal cancer, and to relax and rejuvenate herself before diving back into building her life up. But she is ashamed of her failure and is extremely reluctant to tell her family about it, because to them she was the golden child, the go-getter, the high achiever.
Logan Brody grew up on a neighboring ranch to Angelina. He was very popular in high school with the girls whom he charmed and with the boys who were his pals. He was an extrovert and the life of a party. After high school, he went off to war with great optimism and patriotism, but returned broken in mind, spirit, and body. A recluse now, he works on his parents’ ranch, from sunup to sundown so that he does not have to think about what happened. Lane does a great job of showing the effect war has on healthy young people.
Angelina and Logan accidentally meet at a store in town and are surprised to find how easy their first conversation goes. They were best buds in high school. After they both moved away, they kept in touch sporadically, but despite the number of years away and the disparity of the experiences they’ve had, their old camaraderie, the ease they have in each other’s company, has not been lost.
Being vulnerable is difficult for most people, but guilt and horror can compound the difficulty to an impossibility. Lane has done a good job in showing how Logan cannot forgive himself for surviving the assault on his unit when they had all perished, including his best friend. He atones for living by being the father to his friend’s daughter and a friend to his friend’s wife. She tells him time and again that she holds no grudges against him and that he should forgive himself. But Logan cannot even begin to share his memories with anyone else, including Angelina — for most of the book, he is so far away from absolving himself, that he cannot move forward emotionally towards a full commitment to Angelina.
Angelina has the choice of staying in Texas, finding business opportunities there, and having a halfhearted relationship with Logan or returning to LA, establishing a new company there, and giving up on Logan. Her choices are Difficult and Difficult. What she will do has as much to do with her personality and her mental makeup as it has to do with Logan’s mental health and future prognosis. There cannot be a relationship without honesty and a sharing of minds after all. Lane’s skill lies in showing how Angelina and Logan work on their individual issues and how they come together to trust one another and move forward as a couple.
I enjoy reading books that feature families, because so much about a person is understood by how they fit into their family and their interactions with them. Lane has done a wonderful job of showing the complexity of the Ford family. Once Angelina left home for university, her trips home used to be short flying visits, because she couldn’t wait to leave the ranch and head back to her busy, sophisticated life in LA. As a result, her family had grown up, but she had not had a chance to reconnect with them. This story is as much about Angelina’s relationship with Logan as it is about her taking a step back from busyness and focusing on people and relationships and figuring out her place in her family again.
If, like me, you like western romances, Soraya Lane is an author you should read. Luckily, she has quite a backlist of westerns to dive into.