Title: How a Cowboy Stole Her Heart
Author: Donna Alward
May Contain Spoilers
Clay Gregory’s known Megan Briggs her whole life, and he’s been plenty worried about her while she’s been getting medical treatment. Now she’s back home and hiding away on the family ranch.
Knowing the stubborn cowgirl won’t accept his help willingly, he invites her to a family wedding to help him avoid his aunt’s matchmaking!
He plans to remind Meg she’s still the girl who can beat him in a horse race! But as she steps out in her curve-hugging red dress, her skills on a horse are suddenly the furthest thing from his mind….
I enjoyed Donna Alward’s Honeymoon with the Rancher, so when I saw that she had another cowboy book about to hit store shelves, and that it had an awesome cover, I added it to my wishlish. When I learned that that Megan, the protagonist, is a breast cancer survivor, my interest spiked, and the book moved to the top of my TBR. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 32. She is one of the lucky ones, too; she survived, and is still cancer free, many, many years later. It seems that cancer has always been a part of my life, because I was so young when she was diagnosed, and it wasn’t something that was kept quiet around us kids. I have gone bra shopping at the medical supply store, heard my mother’s dismay when her prosthesis sprang a leak, and listened when she was frustrated that the insurance company didn’t pay a larger portion for it or the special bras she had to purchase. I was wondering, then, if Donna Alward’s heroine would seem familiar to me, because she needed to for me to buy into this book.
Megan has just returned to her family’s ranch after a grueling treatment that included a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Right away I felt so much sympathy for her; she has survived a nightmare, and she has no guarantees that she won’t have to go through it again in the future. Many of Meg’s fears hit home; time is precious, and can’t be taken for granted. There might not be a tomorrow. That one is something that I am struggling with personally – my boyfriend suffered a heart attack last winter, and I realized, with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, how close I came to being alone. After being together for 22 years, I depend on him to be my anchor. What would I do if he wasn’t here? I think I am taking this harder than he is. I worry constantly about his health now, as Meg’s family and friends worried about hers. It irritates him, as it grates on her. I can’t help myself, though, so I know exactly how Clay was feeling. This is scary stuff, and once such a horrible illness touches your life, now matter whether it strikes you or a loved one, it’s always there, dogging your footsteps.
There were times when I was angry with both Clay and Megan. Meg has learned that time is not infinite. There is a limit to how much each of us has available to us. She has loved Clay forever, and when he finally confesses his feelings to her, she rejects them. They spend a good deal of the book apart, upset with each other. Wasting whatever amount of time that they both have left. This upset me. This made both of them seem childish and unable to embrace the love that’s right there in front of them. They were squandering their Happily Ever After, and I had a hard time forgiving them for that. They both know how quickly life can change, how an unexpected illness can destroy all of the tomorrows that each of us think we have. I wanted for them what I want for myself: live for today, enjoy the moment, and stop worrying about something that you have no control over. Be there for each other, and accept that any amount of time together is better than none at all. I know, personally, that this isn’t easy, and that it is infinitely frightening, but any amount of time is better than none.
So, did the book feel familiar to me? Yes, and painfully so. I felt for Meg, but I also felt for Clay. I’ve been in his shoes. It hurts to see someone you love ill. It’s hard to put it from your mind and just keep living. It’s hard to know that your Happily Ever After might not be as long as you would like. Both Clay and Meg showed how brave they are, and how precious love really is.
Grade: B, waffling towards a B+
Review copy provided by publisher