What do I love most about Leigh Smith's cowboy stories? That's easy. The woman just knows how to build a cowboy. Big, handsome, honorable, brave, sexy, hard-working, firm, masculine, kindhearted, dominant, loyal, and loving. Our Sunny makes each one of her cowboys an individual, but she seems to use these building blocks to deliver a character that gives each of her books a solid pillar around which to write us a brand new tale. It's no secret that Ella's bookshelf is filled with cowboy stories, and so very many of them are by Leigh.
Title: A Cowboy's Love
Author: Leigh Smith
Number of Pages: 128
Themes: Sacrifice, Loyalty, Triumph over Adversity
- Marsh Tucker - The serious hard-working cowboy who has been to war and finally found his way back home. He is devoted to his family and their ranch. He knows a thing about wild horses which is a trait he will need as he gets to know Grace.
- Grace Callahan - aka Annabelle Steele. The pampered daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia family. She decides to call herself "Grace" when she sees no option but to run away from a terrible match made by her parents.
- Jameson Henry Bartlett - The rich man chosen as a suitable husband for the Steele family's daughter. He shows Grace a side of his character that makes this independent young woman leave the only home she has ever known.
- Maddy Tucker - The widow who long ago came to the ranch with Marsh as a boy. She arrives as a housekeeper, but her wisdom and no-nonsense love win her a place alongside the owner. Her tender care and tutelage of Grace is just what the girl needs.
- Bull Johnson - The name fits this character to a tee. I love the descriptive "curmudgeon." (Sometimes, I might describe Sam that way.) He is the ranch's owner. Although Maddy won't marry him, they live as man and wife. He treats Marsh as his son unquestionably.
Setting: The Winding Creek Ranch in the Arizona Territory during the late 1800's.
While out searching for stray horses, Marsh Tucker happens upon a serious stagecoach accident. He quickly tries to help those who are hurt and sadly counts the dead. The cowboy is wary as he goes about this and cannot shake the feeling of being watched. Among the people who are rescued and taken to the Winding Creek Ranch is a young woman who calls herself Grace Callahan. Bull and Maddy open their home to her and the rest. Grace seems reluctant to share much about who she is, but Marsh sees her as a rich, little run away.
It seems like Maddy is the one who first notices the attraction the two have for each other, but Marsh seems more inclined to spank the headstrong Grace than whisper sweet nothings in her ear. "Girl, you sure are stubborn," he rants. They are all cautious, though, once they learn about the horrible Jameson Bartlett who has followed the fiance' who spurned him back in Philadelphia.
No kidding. It wouldn't have surprised me if this evil dude had decided to tie Grace to the railroad tracks! Of course, Sunny wouldn't have written anything that trite, but you get the picture. He lays in wait like a snake preparing to strike. And much later in the story when he does finally make his move, Grace proves she is no shrinking violet. Remember to breathe.
One of the most humorous passages starts when Grace decides she is buying some pants since she wants to work with the wild mustangs. Marsh takes great exception to this and spanks her repeatedly. "If they were ever going to be together, she had to learn that he was the one wearing the pants, not her." The analogy practically leaped off the page while I was reading here. Grace may be determined to break some mustangs, but Marsh is just as determined to break Grace, be it with a loving intention. And that just leads to some delicious sexual tension.
Leigh's books always paint beautiful pictures of the magnificent country that is the background to her stories. For some reason, her description of the landscape of Arizona seems especially gifted. I loved when Grace "looked up and spotted a stand of trees cloaked in a mantle of gold among the many dark pines standing majestic against the backdrop of the red sandstone cliffs."
I do believe that westerns are one of my very favorite genres because they are the perfect vehicle in which to celebrate old-fashioned masculinity. There is usually conflict with some peaceful homesteaders, and a cowboy hero's violence only surfaces when it is necessary to protect those who are weaker and depend on him. For those of us who are honest enough to admit we crave a more dominant male, the cowboy is simply the perfect man.
And Sunny builds you the perfect cowboy.
Further Eye Candy Just Because This is My Blog and I Can.
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