Book review: Once a Cowboy by Linda Warren (Harlequin American Romance, 2007)
Brodie Hayes is a former rodeo star, now a rancher—a cowboy, through and through. But when he finds out some shocking news about the circumstances of his birth, he begins to question his identity. Luckily, private investigator Alexandra Donovan is there to help him find the truth about who he is. Along the way, he discovers that even a man who thought he’d be alone for the rest of his life can fall in love. For Brodie, love was something you did once—and for always. But is Alex the type of woman who can take on a stubborn man like him? Because there’s one thing about him that will never change, no matter what they find out about his past—once a cowboy, always a cowboy.
That’s … a bit of a flimsy description of the book, if I may say so. The actual story, if we peel it back from the lovey-dovey stuff, is that Alex is a private investigator along with with her brusque dad, and she gets hired by a woman who has seen a picture in a newspaper of someone she thinks is her baby – a baby that was stolen from the hospital forty years ago. She wants Alex to track down this person and get a DNA sample to prove she’s right. Alex thinks it’s an open and shut case – obviously the woman is just desperate and there’s no way rodeo king Brodie Hayes could be her son. Except things turn out not to be that straightforward at all. Obviously.
I wasn’t sure a book about a modern day cowboy in Texas would really float my boat, so to speak, but aside from a slight overload of the word “cowboy”, it was a really decent read. Warren managed to get a great sense of character in the way people spoke, and I often felt as if I could feel the heat of a Texan summer, the cool water of a sprinkler or the icy chill of a popsicle. I could even hear a southern drawl, especially in unconventional grandmother Naddy (what a great character!), and that’s an accomplishment, as my normal “reading accent” in my head is as British as they come.
It’s a story that while it’s full of people having problems, they deal with them and in the end, it leaves you with a nice feeling. The love story and the story story sometimes felt as if they were trying to fight one another for attention. Sometimes like a love story trying to intrude into a story about a stolen baby, and sometimes a story about a stolen baby intruded into the love story, and the epilogue had so many names I couldn’t quite keep up with who’s who. Still, enjoyable while it lasted.
3 Stetsons out of 5.
At the time of writing, this book was available as a free PDF download from TryHarlequin.com