Lady X's Cowboy
Grade : B-

Lady X’s Cowboy is a fish out of water story about an American cowboy in Victorian London. It has its charms, as well as its problems.

Olivia, Lady Xavier was left a brewery, among other enterprises, by her late husband, a baronet who bought his title. Restless, she read and did research and when her long mourning period was over, she became involved in the day-to-day operations of the brewery, Greywell’s. One night after closing and while waiting for her carriage to arrive, she is attacked by three thugs but saved by Will Coffin, a real-life cowboy who seems to have stepped from the pages of the Western dime novels to which Olivia secretly thrills.

The thugs were sent by George Pryce, the youngest son of an earl. His attempts to buy Greywell’s have been repeatedly rebuffed by Olivia, and now he is resorting to intimidation and violence. However, he is well-connected and seemingly above reproach so no one believes Olivia when she says he is threatening her. Olivia clearly needs protection. Will is in England looking for his family. His parents worked a small mine in Colorado and were killed in a blast when Will was a baby. He was taken in, raised by and given a name by another miner. Now dead, the miner left Will a partial letter written by Will’s father to a “Mr. Hardene” and mentioning London. But he knows no one in England and doesn’t know where to begin. Will clearly needs help. Olivia and Will make an agreement: Will will help Olivia fight Pryce, and Olivia will use her connections to help Will find his family.

I liked Olivia very much. She has become more and more dissatisfied with her life and the strictures society has placed upon it. Running the brewery in spite of the censure of her family and class has changed her from a docile society wife to a more independent person, though one who still tries to follow the rules, even within her rebellion. But she is ready for the freedom Will represents, and seeing her world through his eyes highlights its essential shallowness. She is also stimulated and surprised by the attraction she feels for a man six years her junior. At 32 shouldn’t she be above such yearnings?

Will, also, was an attractive character. He, too, is dissatisfied with his life, ready to quit pushing cows and is searching for his family in the hopes of finding someone to whom he belongs and matters, and a direction for the future. He is finding both in Olivia, but the gulf between them is wide and seemingly uncrossable.

While I liked both Olivia and Will, there were some annoyances along the way, the biggest of which were the overwhelming Western clichés, particularly in how Will speaks and thinks. When the women leave the dinner table leaving the men alone, he calls it, “the roundup.” His previous encounters with women were all “one night fandangos.” All very colorful and sometimes clever turns of phrases and I went along with it a good, long while, but by the time I hit the first love scene and Will was “as hard and upright as a saddle horn,” his stomach “quivered like a stallion’s,” making love “sent his blood into a stampede” and “he felt as wild as a bronc under her,” I had had enough. Yes, yes, I get it. He’s a cowboy. Stop beating me over the head with it.

Another odd thing is the inclusion of Yiddish. Seems the miner who raised Will was Jewish, and Olivia’s maternal grandmother was Jewish, so every once in a while they would break out in Yiddish. It always felt awkward and from out of left field when it happened, and took me out of the story. It felt so out of place to both Victorian England and Colorado cowboys.

I applaud Archer for the inclusion of different, too little used, elements in Lady X’s Cowboy: the working woman, the older woman/younger man, the way she didn’t take the easy way out in the discovery of Will’s family and Olivia and Will’s subsequent HEA. I debated a long while as to whether to grade the book a B- or a C+. Ultimately, I decided that the good outweighed the bad and gave it a B-, though if you have a low tolerance for Western-speak, that may not be the case for you, but if you enjoy a romance that is a bit out of the usual, this is a good one.

Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed

Grade: B-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : February 15, 2006

Publication Date: 2006

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