The Oldest Virgin in Oakdale

Undercover Nanny

The Cowboy’s Convenient Bride
by Wendy Warren
(Silh. Spec. Ed. # 2068, $4.99, PG) ISBN 978-0373-65550-2
The title and the first few chapters could easily turn off a reader who expects what is on the back cover description and assumes that the predictable will occur. Don’t fall for it this time and you will be able to enjoy a very engaging story in The Cowboy’s Convenient Bride.

Fletcher Kingsley grew up in Honeyford, Oregon and longs for the ownership of the Pine Road Ranch, which had been owned by his maternal grandfather until his death and more recently by his father. Fletcher did not have a completely happy childhood. His father and mother were happy at first, and he remembers a mother bubbling with laughter and joy. When his father, Vincent Kingsley who was a doctor and ran a pharmacy in town, wanted to move to town, things changed. His mother hated town and they soon split up. His mother often cried herself to sleep. After she died (the how is revealed late in the tale and would be a spoiler), he moved into town with his father.

By this time, Fletcher hated his father and his brother Dean (who was the result of a first marriage). He grew up from age 10 to 18 determined to make his father’s life hell. He was always in trouble and made an unsavory reputation for himself. He left at eighteen to join the rodeo. Over the years, Fletcher made it big, won several titles and even starred in some TV advertising, making him almost a celebrity. He is back in town now with vengeance on his mind. His father recently passed away and Fletcher has just discovered that to gain control of the ranch (more of a run-down former ranch now), his father’s will stipulates that he must marry and stay married for two years or the ranch goes to the town.

Needless to say, Fletcher is determined to fight for his inheritance and refuses to follow the orders of the will. He also discovers that Dean, who is set to inherit the pharmacy, must also marry to satisfy his portion of the will.

Someone played a cruel joke and put an ad in the local paper for a two-year guaranteed housekeeper/cook job. But Claire Dobbs did not know about the will, or even conceived that someone would joke about that kind of permanent job. She is a widow with three children and needs work. Luckily she inherited a fully-paid home in Honeyford from an aunt, but that is about all she has. She used the bulk of her savings to get to Oregon from Kentucky. Claire is one of the gutsiest heroines you will ever meet. She is from a broken family and foster homes, having met her husband almost by accident. He was a miner who died in a car accident leaving her with little but her three wonderful children. Claire is determined to raise them better than her own mother did her. And right now, she needs a job.

Claire and Fletcher do not hit it off at first and in fact, their romance is rocky all along the way. Yet, they are soul mates from the beginning. Both feel the pull and yet worry about the risk. Neither can commit to anything long-term, so they lie to each other and themselves about this being short-term. Claire brings out Fletcher’s inner decency and makes him question his actions and his values. Fletcher lets Claire relax and realize that there should be more to life than just worry…he helps her accept that she has emotional needs beyond her children that are perfectly acceptable and that it is okay to still dream.

There are many twists and turns in this story. Some are a bit farfetched, but the author keeps the story from being too sweet by throwing in some real angst and emotion. Given that this is a category romance, the transformations took place relatively quickly, but they were believable. Dean’s tale is set up nicely and will be next in the series. If Wendy Warren can work her magic with him, it will be worth looking for.

The Cowboy’s Convenient Bride is not really about convenience or even about a cowboy. It is a story of two people finding each other at the right times of their lives and figuring out how to make it work despite their pasts.

--Shirley Lyons

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