Faith and Our Fathers

Mr. Elliott Finds a Family

 
A Cowboy for Clementine
by Susan Floyd
(Harl. Super Rom. #1029, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-373-71029-1
***
A Cowboy for Clementine filled my head with lots of information about feral cattle, but did little for me as a great romance. I enjoyed this tale of modern day cowboys but was let down by the lack of intensity in the love story.

Clementine Wells loves her horse, her father’s ranch and her cows. Unfortunately for her, those cows are not your typical breed…in fact no one seems to know what breed they are. But everyone knows those cows just do not want to be brought in for slaughter. So Clem looks for the best she can find to help her. And everyone tells her that the best is retired cowboy, Dexter Scott.

Dexter and his band of cowboys have a reputation for bringing in tough herds and having fun doing it. Dexter loves horses, cows and ranching. His two friends, Randy and Ryan Miller, still do the odd job, but Dexter has quit the business. He has isolated himself on his ranch, raising horses all by himself. He has lost his passion for living since his only sister was killed in a fall from her horse.

But Clementine is determined and she, along with the help of the Miller twins, convinces Dexter to take on this job. The story has lots of details of how they find, outwit and finally corral these stubborn, overgrown beasts. It was interesting up to a point. At one point when Clem is feeling low, she says they should just shoot the steers and be done with it. I was ready to agree with her!

Clementine, in a moment of rare initiative, kisses Dexter at his ranch when she tries to convince him to come help her. This kiss is the sole romantic interlude that sustains Clem and Dexter until almost the end of the book. I wouldn’t mind this so much if they were feeling each other out about their lives or their feelings…but the sexual tension is almost nonexistent. Being comfortable with the other person’s silence is the most they acknowledge to either themselves or others about their feelings.

One of the reasons for the lack of real romance is the need for both Clem and Dexter to discover themselves first. Dexter feels guilt over Joanna’s death, and he struggles with how protective he can and should be around Clem. Clem, meanwhile, is at the crossroads of her life. She loves ranching, but lacks the self-esteem to do it on her own. She was married to a dot.com wizard for a short time and he left her for another woman. This has left her feeling vulnerable and uncertain of her ability to make the right choices. They grapple with these issues individually or with Randy’s help rather than with each other.

The fun part of this book is the camaraderie between the four characters while hunting the cows. There is a lot of humor and jokes that illuminate their caring and familiarity with each other. One night, Dexter and the boys sit in the bunkhouse, playing a guitar in front of the fire, just like the cowboys of old. It is so natural for Clem to join them for conversation and joking. But then when she falls asleep and Dexter carries her to bed…another chance at romance left in the dust.

Overall, if you are looking for an easy-to-read tale about some likable cowboys, unique cows, camaraderie, and soul-searching, then A Cowboy for Clementine is for you. If you’re looking for a real romance, I recommend you keep on looking.

--Shirley Lyons


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