The Cowboy Father
One of the best things about romance as a genre is the availability of books for a wide spectrum of reading tastes, from fundamentalist Christian to near-porn erotica. While some might say the binding thread is sex, the truth is that the binder is love, specifically the main characters’ search for love in their lives.
I wanted to read The Cowboy Father because of its setting and then realized a few pages into the book that this is a more Christian scripture-based book than I’ve ever read before. At first this threw me off, but thinking about it, I realized that this shouldn’t be a reason to dismiss a book from review.
Louisa Morgan, having survived the influenza epidemic and three yearly bouts of pneumonia, thinks she’s ready to help her widowed mother pay some of the medical expenses by getting a job. Since she’s now barren because of the flu, she knows she’ll never get married and must find a job even though she hasn’t been able to finish her education.
Widower Emmet Hamilton has moved back to town with his seven-year-old daughter who’s in a body cast after falling from a tree. They are staying with Emmet’s spinster Aunt May because Ellie needs more help than Emmet can provide on their ranch. So that Ellie doesn’t lose ground in school, Emmet hires Louisa to tutor Ellie a couple of hours a day.
At first Ellie acts like a spoiled brat, thwarting Louisa’s lesson plans every way she can. A teacher friend advises Louisa do two things to entice the girl to pay attention and study: Make the lessons as much like games as possible, and get Emmet involved in the teaching. Doing that, however, puts them in almost constant contact and they soon fall in love.
While both Louisa and Emmet are both likeable characters and Ellie is understandable, unfortunately, what could have been a sweet, pure romance becomes rough reading through stilted writing. Equally unfortunate is the lack of information about Alberta, Canada, during the Depression. With the populace out of work and many moving from their houses and farms, the story reads as if it is set in any non-specific place in North America.
So the lack of Alberta-specific details and the ungainly writing caused my eager expectations to dwindle and die.