The Virgin Beauty
The virgin. The cowboy. The virgin and the cowboy. Even if you’re sick of books with yet another virgin and yet another cowboy as the leads, let me urge you to try The Virgin Beauty. Original characterization lifts this book from many similarly-titled ones you might find at the store.
Daniel Cash is prepared to hate the new town vet on sight. It should be his office, his practice, his patients, he thinks, but one look at Grace McKenna is enough to add a powerful feeling of attraction to the resentment he harbors toward her. Grace responds to their first meeting in very much the same way; she’s aware of both his hostility and the tension that exists between them (good and bad) and as much as she’d like, can’t get him out of her mind. And as much as Daniel can’t get this “tall drink of water” out of his mind, he also can’t forget that she’s leading the life he wanted and worked hard for. Although he now manages the family cattle ranch alongside his brother and cousin, he can’t help but imagine what could have been. Had he not been accused of cheating and kicked out of vet school, his marriage would not have failed and life in Nobel, Idaho, would be different indeed.
For Grace, it’s bad enough that this is her first practice in a brand new town. She also happens to be 6 feet 2 inches tall and has endured her share of stares and lame questions about her height. Every day she battles self-consciousness and insecurity. As she gets to know Daniel better – including a priceless consultation where he brings her a cat whose name he can’t even remember – she realizes that all her years of keeping a distance are not working where he is concerned. The one area of her life where she is not insecure is her ability as a vet. She may be young and not have that much experience, and this may be her first solo practice, but she is confident in her knowledge. That is, until things start to go wrong with tests Grace is doing, and as a result, Daniel’s ranch, along with his reputation, is in danger.
Grace is a wonderful character. She is smart, quick witted, and competent, among her many qualities, and is was disheartening to see her defeated and ready to leave Nobel and her practice toward the end of the book. As much as I sympathized with Daniel’s baggage and his initial hostility toward her, especially as more details begin to unfold, I thought his treatment of Grace when things get rough, both personally and professionally, left something to be desired. He makes for a wonderful hero up until then, and does manage to redeem himself in the end, but had he acted differently when it mattered the most, The Virgin Beauty would have earned DIK status from me.
Ms. King’s knowledge of both the ranch industry and the veterinary profession enhanced the book without overwhelming this reader. The book is well paced and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to balance the seriousness of what happens later in the story, and I, for one, am very glad I decided to give it a try. I’m looking forward to Ms. King’s next book.