The Last True Cowboy
“Women and horses were K.C.’s favorite kind of folks. He had superb instincts about both. Give him five minutes with a sullen woman or a skittish filly and he’d know exactly what she needed. He also had good instincts about fullfilling those needs, and he had turned his instincts into an art form. It wasn’t the kind of art a person could hang on the wall, but K.C. liked to think that making a gentle hearted creature happy, even temporarily, required an artist’s touch.”
These are the hero’s thoughts on page 2 of The Last True Cowboy by Kathleen Eagle. Your reaction to these lines will pretty much determine your reaction to the book. If you think this hero sounds like every woman’s dream, then you may love this book. If , like me, you find K.C.’s comparison of women to horses more than a little offensive, then you will probably be glad that K.C. is The Last True Cowboy.K.C. Houston arrives at the Last Horse Ranch in Wyoming only to find that the job he had been promised is a bust. His would-be employer has recently died, leaving the ranch in the hands of three women who aren’t likely to need his experience as a horse trainer. But as luck would have it, K.C. gets caught driving under the influence. He thinks he’ll have to go to jail, but Sally Weslin bails him out. Sally is the eighty-something matriarch of the Weslin clan, and part owner of the Last Horse Ranch. She saves K.C.’s hide in return for service at the ranch.
K.C. has always been a love-em-and-leave-em type, but he quickly gets attached to the Last Horse – and Julia Weslin, Sally’s granddaughter. But there are a lot of complications. First there is Dawn, Julia’s sister, who has designs on K.C. herself. There is also the ranch itself, which Julia and Dawn are thinking of selling for a tidy profit. Then there is K.C.’s drifter past – can Julia ever expect a man like him to settle down?
This book has some intriguing details about ranch life, but it takes some time to get to them. The first part of the book is very slow going. I’ve never been exactly “horse mad,” so at first I thought it was just me. Then I remembered other books about ranches and cattle drives that I had enjoyed, like Nora Robert’s Montana Sky or Maggie Osborne’s The Best Man . This book really picks up in the second half, when the characters start studying some blind, wild horses, and some people start plotting to get control of the ranch.
Part of the problem is that the main characters just didn’t do much for me. Julia was okay, but rather bland. But K.C. was really grating. With his bad grammar and propensity for comparing women to horses, he just wasn’t my idea of a hero. He seemed like a walking stereotype. The book was peppered with cheesy quotes like the one above. Would you love a man who said, “Hell, I’m a cowboy. Easy to love, but hard to hold. I gotta go where the wind takes me.”? And picky as it may sound, I didn’t even like his name. I kept wondering where the sunshine band was.
Several of the secondary characters were much stronger. I particularly liked Sally. Sally had a couple of flashbacks in which she remembered her own Depression Era romance, and I couldn’t help wishing the book had been about Sally during that time. Julia’s sister Dawn was also a good character, with much more depth than Julia herself.
I guess it comes down to where you stand on cowboy romances. If you adore them, you’re likely to love K.C.’s Robert Redford-esque persona. If you can take them or leave them, then this is one to leave; The Last True Cowboy is unlikely to convert a non-cowboy lover.
I've been at AAR since dinosaurs roamed the Internet. I've been a Reviewer, Reviews Editor, Managing Editor, Publisher, and Blogger. Oh, and Advertising Corodinator. Right now I'm taking a step back to concentrate on kids, new husband, and new job in law...but I'll still keep my toe in the romance waters.