Review: The Cowboy’s Christmas Bride by Laurie LeClair

May Contain Spoilers

I thought I’d give The Cowboy’s Christmas Bride a go because it’s about a down and out country singer, and the hero is an former bull rider with a young daughter. Ryder is Cassidy’s ex, and she broke his heart. I figured with the small town setting, it wouldn’t be long before they were constantly pushed into each other’s company, and I was right.

Cassidy is dealing with quite a bit. Her mother passed away recently, and she’s still grieving her loss. She’s ruined her voice and had to have surgery to repair her vocal cords, and months later, she’s still not sure whether or not she’ll ever sing again. Her manager lied to her and robbed her blind, leaving her with pretty much only her truck, her guitar, and her dog. Things are mighty bleak for a woman who once stood at the top of the country music charts.

Ryder is raising his young daughter alone, after losing his wife to cancer. He’s trying hard to be a good dad, but some things are just beyond him. Fixing Molly’s hair, grocery shopping, and cooking are all getting harder as Molly gets older. He’s working himself to the bone, trying to get the house he’s building move in ready by Christmas, so Molly can celebrate the holidays in comfort. When Cassidy slams into his truck and totals it, he’s determined that she won’t run over his heart. Again.

There were a few things about the book that drove me nuts. The major hang up was Cassidy’s dislike of the being in the spotlight. Hello! She wants to take the country music world by storm, making a comeback to grab people’s attention, but she doesn’t want to have anything to do with the corresponding media involved. Being a star means being in a fish bowl, and if she really hated being the focus of the press that badly, she really needed to explore new career opportunities.

Molly is bound and determined that her father is going to find a bride by Christmas, so she can be like all of the other kids in her school and have both a mother and a father. She latches onto Cassidy, who she idolizes, and makes a not so subtle run for them to get together. When she learns that Cassidy and Ryder knew each other, years ago, she’s even more determined to keep throwing them together. I was surprised when this plot device didn’t bother me. I even liked Molly, and how she and Gramps worked together to keep Ryder and Cassidy together.

Cassidy is hurt at first to learn that Ryder married her rival for his affections, but, hey, girl, you dumped him like yesterday’s trash. While  Cassidy was busy chasing her father’s dream for her to be a big star, she broke up with Ryder, so she wouldn’t hurt him down the road. I don’t know what she was thinking, that maybe Ryder would chase her from one run-down bar and country rodeo after another, and beg her to take him back? She had no right to be jealous or upset that he carried on with life after her. There were times I had a hard time understanding Cassidy’s motives and emotions. Ryder’s I could completely understand. Cassidy had turned her back on him once, putting her music career above him, and there was no reason to think that she wouldn’t do that again.

Despite some quibbles, this was actually a heart-felt read. Cassidy’s emotional turmoil, dealing with her uncertainty about her voice, her rage about her manager leaving her penniless, and her grief over her mother’s death, were all compelling. Throw in one ex-boyfriend she never got over, and you have the mixings for an engaging read.

Grade: 3.5 stars

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

Rising country music star Cassidy James McCall is living her own version of a bad country song. After undergoing vocal chord surgery, her future is uncertain. To escape the constant presence of tabloid reporters, she accepts an invitation to celebrate Christmas with her McCall cousins. But her idea of a quiet and peaceful holiday comes to a screeching halt the moment she crashes into her former boyfriend, the tough yet noble cowboy that she’s never gotten over.
Widowed, single father and ex-rodeo bull rider, Ryder Hadley, longs to raise his precious little girl in his safe, secure small hometown of Honor, Texas while bringing his ranch back to life. It’s a simple wish that goes haywire when the mega country sensation and the woman who stole his heart years ago gallops back in to town, igniting a firestorm of emotions in her wake.
As Ryder tries to protect his heart from falling once again under Cassidy’s spell, he soon learns he’s not the only one who can’t resist her–his daughter wants Cassidy as a bride for her daddy. With the help of some Christmas magic, will Ryder and Cassidy get the second chance that they’ve always wanted?