Review: Her Cowboy Hero by Tanya Michaels

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I have been having a hard time finishing a book for the last week or so.  Nothing has been holding my interest, and when that happens, I usually pick up a Harlequin to help me over my reading hurdle.  There’s just something about the formula and the guaranteed HEA that I, and many, many others, find appealing.  I picked up Her Cowboy Hero because it has, you guessed it, a cowboy!  Yeah, I can be pretty shallow.

Her Cowboy Hero is a very touching story about loss, acceptance, and finally moving forward instead of avoiding the future  and wallowing in the past.  Colin is still suffering from the tragic accident that took his wife and young son from him, and instead of trying to deal with his pain, he runs away from his memories.  Traveling from one short-term ranch job to another, he has given up his house, his vet practice, and even his siblings.  He never wants to be hurt again, so instead of caring about the people he still has left in his life, he turns his back on them, ignoring their gestures of comfort.  When he runs into Widow Shaw and her broken down truck, she’s the last person he thinks he needs in his life.  The young widow is beautiful, perpetually perky, and so not what he wants right now.  Maybe not, but he sure does need Hannah and her bright dreams for the future.

Hannah is struggling with grief, too.  Her husband was killed overseas, serving the country, and her mother-in-law, the only family she had left, passed away soon after.  Neither survived to see the birth of her son, Evan.  Having  been bounced around from one foster home to another when she was growing up, Hannah is determined to provide a loving, stable home for Evan, even if she has to do it on her own.  With a dream of fixing up the ranch that has been in husband’s family, and turning it into a B&B, she always puts her best foot forward.  Money’s tight and financing is a challenge, but she knows that everything will work out in the end.   Deciding long ago that she could either dwell on all of the unhappiness in her life or find the bright side to any situation, she is the ultimate glass is half-full kind of girl.  Colin, on the other hand, is a cheerless, grumpy cowboy, and he needs to lighten up.  A lot.  Good thing he ran into Hannah.

There were times during the first half of the book that I had tears in my eyes.  I loved how the relationships developed between Hannah and Colin, and Colin and Evan.  Colin has avoided children since the death of his son, and he feels panicky whenever Evan is around.  If he sees him coming, Colin turns and practically runs in the other direction.  When Evan tries to slide head first down the banister, Colin saves him from hurting himself, changing their relationship.

“Mr Colin?”  Evan’s voice was hesitant, but close.

Colin jerked his head up, realizing Evan had partially emerged from his sanctuary.

“Are you gonna cry?”

“What?” Surprised by the question, Colin raised a hand to his eyes, realizing his vision was beginning to blur.  Dammit.  He looked back at the curious little boy, but for a moment, he didn’t see Evan Shaw. He saw Danny’s face, Danny laughingly demanding to be swung high in the air.  Danny, solemn as he nodded his understanding that the oven was hot and that he needed to stay back.  Danny worn out after a Christmas carnival, asleep on his stomach with his little butt curved up in the air.

That now familiar suffocating sensation crowded Colin’s chest.  He shot to his feet, wanting to put as much space as possible between himself and this room filled with all the bright adventure of childhood.

I loved that scene between Colin and Evan.  It marks the point in Colin’s road where he is able to look at Evan and see beyond his grief.  He agrees to keep a secret for Evan, something he is reluctant to do, because he fears the bond it will forge between them, and the pain it might bring him.  It does change their relationship, allowing Colin to finally realize that, while he’s still heartbroken over the loss of his family, closing himself off from others is just as painful.

This conversation between Colin and his younger brother is another of my favorite scenes.  Colin has never seen comfortable discussing his feelings, but he discovers the value in doing just that, despite how awkward it makes him feel.  He also begins to acknowledge that he hasn’t done himself any favors by walking away from his family and friends.

“It’s like I’ve had a splinter in my heart,” he said haltingly.  “It got worse and worse and worse for two years, infected probably.  And Hannah somehow drew it to the surface.  She has this way of getting me to talk-about the accident, about random stuff like picking out nursery furniture before Danny was born.  She’s not only extracting the memories but the pain.”

Her Cowboy Hero is a sweet and touching journey from the grip of grief and despair, to the courage of self-forgiveness and the power of a second chance at love, because everyone deserves happiness-even a cranky cowboy.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

He’s Just The Hired Help… 

What kind of cockeyed Pollyanna is Colin Cade working for? Her porch is rotting, her “guest cabin” is cheerless and her land and livestock have only a geriatric cowboy to care for them. Yet Hannah Shaw is positive she can turn her ranch into a successful B and B—and that Colin’s the man to make it happen. 

But Colin can’t stick around. He lives with the loss of his family by avoiding the memories, and the way he feels around Hannah and her young son is like a knife to the heart. Trouble is, he’s better at ignoring his own pain than someone else’s, and bright, cheerful Hannah has a heart as haunted as his own. She deserves to be happy—but could she really be with him?