Whenever I dig into a new cowboy story, it takes me back in time to when I first loved cowboys. By the time I was 7 years old, I was a tough little cowgirl with a set of gorgeous ivory-handled Mattel pistols and a real leather holster slung on my hips. I would practice drawing my guns just like the cowboys on TV. Even if I wasn't the fastest gun in the West, I was certainly the fastest gun on my block. Who remembers roll caps?!
Had a suede leather jacket with fringe like Annie Oakley and a real coonskin cap like Davy Crockett. Goofy outfit, I know, but I thought I was the epitome of cool. On any given night, I had the whole ensemble on just to watch one of my favorite cowboy shows on the huge black and white console TV in our living room.
And there were so many big, handsome cowboys!
Cheyenne, Have Gun Will Travel, The Cisco Kid,
Wyatt Earp, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Sugarfoot,
Davy Crockett, The Lone Ranger, Maverick,
The Rifleman, Wanted Dead or Alive, Bonanza,
Paladdin, Jim Bowie, and Bat Masterson
Don't think any of these characters spanked, but I vividly remember John Wayne spanking Maureen O'Hara in the western movie McLintock! The spanking was really the only redeeming factor in that whole movie, as far as I was concerned. Not one of my favorite westerns.
Sunny has written many a favorite cowboy story and I believe I have read every one - some books more than once. For your information, I do not wear a coonskin cap anymore, but I am as avid about my library of Leigh Smith books as I was about my TV cowboys.
Title: Finding Home
Author: Leigh Smith
Themes: Fidelity, Home,
Life Choices, Trust
- Sally Jenkins - a hard working young woman who does more than her share on the family ranch. Sally runs the Double JJ ranch with her brother, Dixon, since her father retired. Together they breed cutting horses.
- Cade Collier - has been Dixon's best friend since childhood, and Sally has had a crush on him since she was a young girl. Cade is a very handsome man who leaves Claremont after winning a modeling contract that leads to a career in Hollywood. At times he is insufferably full of himself. He always believed that Sally's heart belonged to him no matter what.
- Jake Raymond - the son of a millionaire rancher, Jake has a spread of his own in the Hill Country of Texas. He meets Sally at a rodeo in which he is competing. At first he is interested in purchasing several of the Double JJ Ranch horses, but soon realizes he is quite taken with Sally herself.
- Dixon and Betty Jenkins - Sally's brother and his wife both live on the Double JJ. Dixon is not only an experienced rancher, he is also a rodeo rider. He is an easy-going guy who is used to the fireworks between Sally and Cade.
- Mandy Baxter - the manipulative, trouble-making daughter of the long time ranch manager. She comes to town when her father is injured. The author sums up this character well when she writes that Mandy was, "a perennial pain in the ass."
Setting: the Double JJ Ranch in present day
near the town of Claremont, Texas.
It is my observation that even books told from a third person point of view usually spend more time in the mind of just one of the main characters. Finding Home is definitely Sally's story. The book is a clever twist on the standard western romance, as well. Sally is headstrong and independent, but you soon realize she is searching for a lasting relationship with a strong man. The author makes this story special by providing the heroine with two dominant men. And they both spank! The book's title is a clever way to invite the reader to be part of Sally's quest to find her home and her heart.
The theme of fidelity runs all through this story. We are quickly introduced to Cade whom Sally has loved since she was young. He has always professed his love for her, but Sally does not care to be a part of Cade's Hollywood life. He seems to take for granted that she will always be there, and Sally doubts his careless on and off attention. He is a generous man and tries to do good with his money, but it is difficult at times to feel he is sincere. Sally admires his project to help neglected kids, but ends up feeling used.
When she meets Jake, she sees him as someone who shares her values and her goals in life. Although Jake wants to take that next step in a lasting relationship, we learn that he finds it difficult to trust. The first woman he ever loved was unfaithful, and he is reluctant to give his heart again. There is a hesitation, and Sally knows that, "...trust is the cornerstone of any relationship." But, good god, the spanking and the sex between these two is electric.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the first time Jake visits the Double JJ. Sally is by herself helping deliver a foal in the barn. Jake stands in the shadows and watches, fascinated by the love she has for her horse, Jenny. Beautifully written. This story is full of duality, and I was really impressed with the way it was used to give Finding Home a unique structure. Normally her brother, Dixon, would have been there to help with the birth of the colt, but he leaves it to Sally because his wife is in labor and they are joyfully off to the hospital. It is a lovely parallel, and the author repeats this theme throughout, right down to the name of the ranch!
Sally's own feelings are torn when Cade seems to finally show he is changing, and she admits, "..a small crack opened the door to her heart." But Jake doesn't give up easily and is always there to catch her when she needs someone. The whole "loving two different men" premise adds a human and sexual tension to the story that you don't see much in this genre. In the end, it is fidelity that gives Sally the clarity of sight to decide between the two men, and she finds that home is truly where her heart is.