Cinderella Christmas

The Mommy Bride

A Small Town Girl

My Favorite Cowboy
by Shelley Galloway
(Harl. American #1349, $4.99, PG) ISBN 978-0373-75353-6
This is a little bit of silly contemporary thrown into a category romance. Despite a stretch on the plotline, it is a cute story with a nice happy ending. My Favorite Cowboy is actually a favorite of mine in the genre this year.

Jarred Riddell is rich, charming and having been raised in Texas, he is a bit of “cowboy.” He works hard and is so used to having something on his boots, he doesn’t really smell it anymore. He is handsome and most of the girls in Electra Texas would gladly fall into his bed. But Jarred has a problem. His father is aging and not able to do as much around the ranch. Their housekeeper is aging too and finds herself looking for a chance to start taking things easy. She is also used to being on a ranch with feminine frills not her specialty. His two brothers Cal, Jr and Trent are even more clueless than he is when it comes to femininity. And he has a five year old sister, the product of his father’s last marriage, who definitely needs a female influence. Virginia is precocious, ornery, horse crazy and beginning to sound like a sailor. Not to mention, she is getting into fights at the local day care.

Jarred thinks his problem will be solved if he can marry someone who is very feminine who can teach his sister. He is strongly attracted to Veronica Snow, a city girl who has just moved to Electra to care for her aging mother. Veronica used to be a model and still dresses like one. She is classy and even though Jarred thinks she is a little skinny, he is convinced she will help him with his problems.

He decides to auction himself off for one week to the highest bidder during the local fundraiser at the club. He figures if he can get Veronica to bid on him, he will convince her with his charm during their week. But first, he has to be a gentleman in more than name only. He enlists the help of his high school buddy – Serena Higgins.

Serena and Jarred have been friends forever. She went to college and got her library science degree and is now back running the local library. Jarred went out on the rodeo circuit for awhile, but he is now full time working on the ranch. Serena has always had a crush on Jarred and laments that while he sees her as a friend, he never sees more. She is certain it is due to her shape – heavy on the hips and bust. She has no clue how attractive she is.

Jarred convinces Serena to give him charm lessons – how to eat, how to treat a lady, how to defer, etc. It is only when Jarred’s brothers start pointing out all of Serena’s charms that Jarred rethinks his status with Serena.

There story follows as one might expect. First they surprise themselves with their attraction and follow it up with an inadvertent kiss. Then they convince each other that it was an apparition even as they both realize they have feelings for each other. And then there is the Veronica factor. But underneath it all is the sense that Jarred needs to just look under his nose to discover what he really needs and her name is not Veronica.

I truly enjoyed this story even as I recognized how silly it really was. The whole premise of the auction and the outsider bidding on Jarred was a bit outlandish. The shenanigans between Serena and Jarred were pretty easily predicted, but the story was fun and kept the reader engaged. There is a hint of some of those light-hearted contemporaries, yet this is clearly the start of a series about the Riddell brothers. My Favorite Cowboy made me smile enough that I will keep my eye out for those tales.

--Shirley Lyons

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