I noted when I reviewed (and recommended) the first book in Doreen Roberts' "Rodeo Men" series that the key to a successful short romance is the creation of characters that the reader likes and cares about. If anything, A Forever Kind of Cowboy proves my point. Since I didn't respond positively to the characters (especially the heroine), I didn't enjoy the book nearly so much.
We meet Lori Ashford as she is fleeing blindly through the Oregon woods. She is doubly a fugitive: from the man who picked her up when her car ran out of gas and from her family who are pressuring her to marry a man she doesn't love. When she comes upon an empty cabin in the woods, she seeks refuge.
The cabin belongs to Cord McVane, a rodeo rider who has been following the circuit for seven years, ever since his wife betrayed him. (We have here the typical burned-in-love hero.) And the cabin is not destined to remain empty long. Cord has sprained his shoulder in a fall and has asked his friend Jed to drive him to the cabin to recuperate. Imagine his surprise when he finds a stowaway in his bed.
Morning reveals that the girl in his bed is no runaway child (which he originally thought), but rather a grown woman, and an attractive one at that. Lori begs Cord to let her stay. She can take care of him, the cabin, and the cooking. Of course, Lori has no idea how to do any of this. The pampered daughter of a wealthy Seattle family, she is used to
having dinner appear on the table with no effort on her part. There are the typical scenes detailing her ineptitude.
Lori finally admits that she is a runaway bride, determined to escape from a family that believes she should be a good little girl and do as she is told. Lori finds herself responding to Cord in a way that she never did to her fiancé, Richard. For his part, Cord finds Lori immensely and surprisingly appealing. A convenient thunderstorm breaks
down the barriers and the two enjoy a night of passionate (and unprotected) sex.
The next day, Cord comes to his senses. He feels that he has taken unfair advantage of the virgin Lori and determines it will never happen again. He does understand Lori's desire to live her own life, so he takes her to the rodeo, finds her a place to live and a job. He also appoints himself as her protector and director. While Lori has fallen in love with Cord, she resents his continued attempts to tell her what to do. And then, the inevitable. She discovers she is pregnant. The last thing she wants is for Cord to marry her because it is the right thing to do.
As I indicated above, my problem with the story was the heroine. She just didn't work for me. I found it hard to accept that a twenty-two-year-old would be so naive, so ignorant, so helpless. Sure, she does manage to do the job that Cord finds for her, but without his aid she would have still been stuck in the woods. And then she resents Cord
because he's trying to protect her, when she clearly needs protection.
Cord, well, I liked him. What's not to like? He's handsome, he's responsible, he's caring and he wants to do the right thing. I guess he falls for Lori because she needs him, which is kind of sweet but leaves me worrying about their future – not a good thing.
So A Forever Kind of Cowboy didn't quite work for me. The characters didn't pull me in, so the traditional plot line seemed all too, well, traditional. An acceptable short romance, but not one I can recommend.