Knight on the Texas Plains

 
The Cowboy Who Came Calling
by Linda Broday
(Leisure, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-8439-5187-7
****
One of perks to being a reviewer is getting to try debut authors. When I read Broday’s debut, Knight on the Texas Plains, I had a mixed reaction to it – but did recognize that the author showed quite a bit of promise. I volunteered to review her follow-up sequel and am glad I did. There’s nothing more satisfying that watching an author’s style grow, and in some cases improve, in just one books’ time.

I have this weakness for heroines facing adversity, and Glory Day has a lot on her plate. With her father near death in prison, it’s up to Glory to find a way to pay off the bank before they foreclose on the family farm, get her father out of prison before he dies, and provide for her two younger sisters and a mother who seems to be growing more delusional with each passing day. Oh, and on top of all that, a swift kick in the head by the family mule seems to have caused Glory to slowly lose her eyesight.

While in town visiting her aunt’s general store, Glory overhears about a bandit in the area who has a price on his head. Thinking this is the answer to all her problems, she goes after Mad Dog Perkins – seeing the reward money as the answer to all her problems. Too bad a handsome, charming and insufferable stranger arrives to muck up the works.

Luke McClain is a fallen Texas Ranger. Out for revenge, he figures that Mad Dog is the only man who can give him the answers he so richly craves. He happens across Mad Dog just as Glory does and naturally both of their plans go awry. With Luke now accidentally shot in the leg, Glory sees no other alternative but to take the stranger home.

As Luke heals at the Day farm he manages to charm every female in the place – except for Glory. She’s determined to guard her heart, even if she does find Luke handsome, charming and very hero-worthy. However, will her pride stand in the way of Luke helping her and her family? Will Glory be able to see her way out of all of her problems? And will Luke get the answers he’s been traipsing all over the West for?

What really makes The Cowboy Who Came Calling work is Glory Day. This story is really her show – and Broday writes her as a tough, yet vulnerable woman who has too many burdens to bear. Luke is immediately likable for his charm, but Broday takes a slower hand with him – and it wasn’t until towards the end of the story that I felt I really got a handle on him as a person.

The secondary characters also have a nice touch – most notably Glory’s family. There’s the younger sister Hope, ever the peacemaker, along with a baby sister, Patience, who is a cross somewhere between irrepressible tomboy and hopeless brat. Glory’s mother is also a nice contradiction to her stronger daughters – illustrating that not all women of the American West were tough enough to spit nails.

The subplot involving Luke’s need for justice is the only real issue I had with this otherwise enjoyable western romance. Broday keeps the reader guessing a little too long – as I had many questions for the good first half of the story. The author does get around to answering all of them; it just requires some patience on the part of the reader.

While The Cowboy Who Came Calling is a sequel to the author’s first book – there is no real need to read book one first unless the reader is so inclined. Broday doesn’t rely too heavily on that first book to tell this tale, with the past couple only making a brief appearance. It is a very smooth transition, allowing the reader not to miss a beat.

As much as I love reading debut authors, sometimes it’s just as nice to read the second book. Broday’s writing style has really grown in just one book, and while it still has a folksy charm, it’s not as pervasive. I’m glad I volunteered to read her follow-up and I’ll definitely be reading her third book when it comes along.

--Wendy Crutcher


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