has also reviewed:

The Bad Boy Next Door

(She's) They're the One

The Cowboy is a Daddy
By Mindy Neff
(Harl. American #759, $3.99, G) ISBN 0-373-16759-8
I wondered if it would be difficult for me to evaluate this book, because there were a lot of things that, quite frankly, I am a bit tired of reading about. But then, there were also quite a few things about this book that I liked. Enough to even overlook some things and perhaps suspend disbelief on a few other things.

Personally, I could go for years without ever reading another baby book, or another cowboy book. There were several well-used plot devices, too. The heroine, Madison Carlyle, and the hero, Brice DeWitt, are plagued by abandonment issues. Maddy was raised in a series of foster homes, and Brice was abandoned in some form or fashion by everyone he's ever loved. Maddy's a pregnant woman on the run.

Maddy had elected to have her baby through artificial insemination and raise the child as a single parent. It was her bad luck that the donor had died, and his grieving, powerful and wealthy family wanted an heir. Brice has been told by his ex-wife that he's sterile, when his greatest desire in the world is to have a family of his own. Maddy's abandoned her successful life as a CPA in Dallas and taken a job, sight unseen, as a housekeeper on a rural ranch in Wyoming.

So what if she can't cook anything without prepared frozen foods and a microwave? She arrives in the midst of a brutal weather front, in full labor, and only the hero around to help deliver the baby. From the minute little Abigail falls into his hands, Bryce is enchanted. Before long, in order to protect Maddy and Abigail from the greedy grandparents, he marries Maddy to give both of them his name. It's supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but both are getting awfully attached, considering this is only temporary.

There were many predictable things about this book, and plenty of clichés. But darn it all, I liked these people anyway! I was often charmed and touched by their actions. It's hard not to like a heroine this spunky. It's hard not to like a man who is addicted to catalog shopping, to the extent that he's on a first name basis with the UPS driver. It was easy to imagine a bunch of gruff cowboys turning to mush in the presence of one sweet little baby girl. And having lived in a rural ranching community, I can easily understand and appreciate the tight-knit closeness of the neighboring ranchers and townspeople.

There were times when that cowboy lingo wore a bit thin. Western folk don't say "young'un" and "little lady" and other similar phrases as often as non-Western folk might think we do. Sure, parts of this book were downright hokey and predictable. But other parts were quite poignant and sweet.

I will certainly read other books by this author. Those of you who like cowboy/baby books will more than likely enjoy this one. Those of you who don't like this format might also find yourselves pleasantly surprised as well.

--Diane Grayson

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