REVIEW: The Cowboy’s Ready-Made Family by Linda Ford
THE COWBOY’S READY-MADE FAMILY by Linda Ford represents beautifully what I love about sweet Christian romance and the friends-to-lovers trope. The author’s slow pacing allowed the characters to know each other and support one another before blossoming their love.
Why was this book in Dorine’s TBR? I had a Love Inspired subscription for months and stockpiled a bunch of them to while away winter doldrums. I can’t read them back-to-back, but they’re a nice change of pace when I need to relax. Thinking I’d like to write for this line, I imagined the best way to know is to read them to see if my style fits. I seem to write inspirational but not necessarily religious, so it is hard to imagine my stories fitting anywhere. Probably one of many reasons I quit toying with them, but I’d love to get lost in them again.
Favorite Trope? This month’s TBR Challenge theme is “favorite trope,” a theme I struggle with for several reasons. I’m not a “by trope” reader, because I’m not attracted to most of the ones I recognize. Secret Baby? Nope, definitely not me. I find them hard to identify in my TBR, so it’s difficult to pick my favorite when I don’t even know which one it might be. They’re not always evident by the blurb, and unless one was recommended by trope, AND if I label it as such on GoodReads, then I’m not going to find it in my massive TBR.
This time was no different. I went through pile after pile of books to come up with one that might work. Finally, I narrowed it down to the Love Inspired Historical line because I haven’t read enough of them yet to even decide if I enjoy them. Having tried a couple Love Inspired Suspense with no success, I was beginning to worry that all these beautiful unread books were going to land in my garage sale.
I don’t give up easily because I’m a mood reader. Knowing that my mood could keep me from enjoying a specific style of books for quite some time, I needed to be patient and keep trying. I loved the covers and the blurbs appealed to me – I just needed the right book to convince me.
THE COWBOY’S READY-MADE FAMILY was the perfect book for this challenge and to reintroduce me to Love Inspired Historicals. I enjoyed it from page one AND it ended up being my favorite trope: friends-to-lovers. I did not know that when I picked it. I chose it because it had orphaned children in it, a theme I love.
And even though friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers are my favorite tropes, I don’t consciously buy them. I recognize them, and I’m betting I buy them not thinking about it, but I don’t glom them or miss them when I haven’t read one in a while.
What can I say? I’m a tropeless wanderer?
I love the way THE COWBOY’S READY-MADE FAMILY begins with Tanner Harding aware of something, or someone, watching him. It’s easy to recognize the one-half of his Native American heritage with his stealth and ability to pretend he’s unaware that a cougar or bear might be stalking him. With his knife ready, he whirls around to find an ornery five-year-old boy full of questions about Tanner’s wild horses he has just corralled.
Naturally, the boy’s aunt should be grateful to Tanner for finding and returning the mischievous child, but not without questioning if he’s hurt the boy first. Of course, Tanner expects his half-Lakota appearance to cause racism – something he’s dealt with in town for years, especially with women.
After meeting the rest of the children, and witnessing the chaos going on at Susanne’s farm, it’s obvious to Tanner that this woman needs help. Susanne’s brother passed away recently and left four young children in her care. Tanner and Susanne make a deal. He’ll help her with all that needs done on the farm, especially getting the crop in, and she’ll allow him to use her corrals to tame his wild horses.
Susanne and Tanner’s friendship and attraction grows. Can they get over their individual imagined inadequacies and develop a respectful relationship?
A large portion of this novel is devoted to their day-to-day chores on the farm. Tanner’s self-crimination over being half-white and half-Lakota is measured against Susanne’s aunt’s voice in her head, criticizing everything she does and creating an expectation of future obligations for assistance. They begin to see the good in each other and try to convince each other of their worth. Two lonely souls find hope and a renewed spirit with their mutual pain and suspicions as a bond.
I’m surprised how much I liked this story. There’s no suspense or complicated plot, much of which I seem to need in my reading lately. Actually, you’d think focusing on the daily activities at the farm might be boring, but I really enjoyed the situations they needed to resolve and how they worked together. The children added laughter and drama with their antics. The romance was very slow paced and sweet. The faith messages were appropriate for the story and didn’t seem to drive it, but were more like a really good accent.
I had forgotten how easy and relaxing a well-written Harlequin romance is to read. They haven’t been appealing to me, even though I’ve tried several. The 280-page length, which allows plenty of room for ample conversation and description, appeals to me. I love speeding through a good happy-ever-after. Frequently devouring Harlequin Historicals in the past, I wanted to fall in love with them again. I’m now excited to dig into my several shelf stack of Love Inspired novels to see what other gems are hidden in there.
I’m especially happy that book three, THE COWBOY’S CITY GIRL, was also sent in my subscription. That’s Levi’s story, Tanner’s brother and someone I really enjoyed in THE COWBOY’S READY-MADE FAMILY. Linda Ford writes a great friends-to-lovers sweet romance, filled with faith inspiration, allowing the characters to gain respect for each other as their attraction grows. The beautiful and romantic end will please your dreamy, happy-ever-after desires.
Yay for success on the Trope TBR Challenge theme and finding a great new-to-me author! What’s your favorite trope?
Review by Dorine, courtesy of TheZestQuest.com. Print book purchased. Thank-you in advance for following links and promoting this review on social media.
The Cowboy’s Ready-Made Family by Linda Ford
Category: Christian Frontier Historical Romance
Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals (March 1, 2016)
Rated 4 out of 5