Never Love a Cowboy
When I first picked up Never Love a Cowboy by Jill Gregory, I was immediately reminded of all the Janet Daily western romances I read and loved fifteen years ago. I sat down and prepared myself to finish the book in one sitting. I was right; the book was very reminiscent of those old Daily romances – tough as nails hero, feisty heroine, nasty bad guys. Unfortunately, I’m not as partial to those kinds of characters as I was at age twelve. I found them flat and predictable – and very disappointing.
Emma Malloy has returned home to the family ranch after years of schooling in Philadelphia. She had no idea that the feud between her father and Jed Garretson had escalated to the point that Win Malloy is the prime suspect in the murder of Jed’s oldest son. Emma, who hates the Garretson’s as much as her father, is determined to see him found innocent. If only Tucker Garretson weren’t around to complicate things.
Tucker Garretson believes Win Malloy killed his brother in cold blood and wants to see him hang for it. Everyone knows Malloy cheated at cards the night he won part of the Garretson spread and started the feud between the two families. Tucker only wants to see justice served. If only Emma Malloy hadn’t come home and turned his world upside down.
Emma Malloy is a stereotypical heroine. She’s feisty and independent – but seemingly powerless when it comes to the hero. Whenever he’s around she always seems to be fainting or twisting her ankle or somehow in need of his help. No matter how independent or resourceful she tries to be, Tucker’s always around to see her fail. She figures he’s just as bitter and twisted as his father, but that doesn’t stop her from dreaming of his kisses.
Tucker is her perfect stereotypical match. He’s handsome and rugged. He’s always right. Whenever Emma does something everyone else considers smart and brave, he thinks it was stupid of her to endanger herself. Of course, he thinks she was brave too, but he never tells her. He thinks she’s probably just as rotten as her father, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting her.
The only thing Emma and Tucker can agree on is their attraction to each other. Sparks fly whenever they touch, and it isn’t long before they end up sleeping together so they can put an end to whatever it is that crackles between them. For two supposedly smart people, they sure picked a dumb way to try to ease the tension between them! Sleeping together only made matters worse, of course, and they seemed surprisingly unconcerned about the possible conception of a child.
Never Love a Cowboy vividly calls to life the rugged beauty of Montana and Gregory has a wonderful way of bringing history to life without any effort. However, I just couldn’t get into the book. I found myself getting frustrated that Emma never seemed to be as strong as she was set up to be. And Tucker, whom everyone seemed to like, was nothing more than a jerk for most of the book! I love alpha heroes as much as the next reader, but not when they constantly seem to be insulting the heroine’s family or intelligence. I saw absolutely no reason why Emma should have fallen in love with him.
By the time the real killer was revealed – in a surprising and unbelievable plot twist, I knew that Tucker would reform and that he and Emma would finish out their lives as equals, running their ranches together. I knew that the feud would be resolved and all the bad guys would be dead. I wasn’t surprised, but I would have liked to have been.
If you are a fan of the formula western and love it when your hero and heroine fight each other almost to the last minute, you will enjoy this book – especially if you love impossibly arrogant, unforgiving heroes that miraculously come to their senses in the last chapter. I enjoy them sometimes too, but Never Love a Cowboy was disappointingly predictable. A writer of Gregory’s caliber could have made it so much more.