Family by Design

The Truth About Plain Jane

The Rodeo Rider
by Roxanne Delaney
(Harl. American#1269, $4.99, PG) ISBN 978-0373-75273-7
Rodeo bronc riders love what they do. They get on those horses knowing that one day they might get hurt. It is like being a race driver - the thrill of the challenge is part of the adrenaline rush and part of the glamour. Tanner O’Brien knows more than most what the cost can be. His father was killed riding a bronc. But his dream is the national finals and he won’t stop until he gets there and hopefully wins. However, Tanner also has other issues. His mother left the family long before his dad died, leaving his aunt to help raise two boys. When his father died, Tanner took on the role of father to his much younger brother, even though Tanner was just a teenager himself.  Tanner still suffers from the fact that his brother Foster took off to join the rodeo at 15 and has not been heard from since, despite efforts to find him.

Jules Vandeveer grew up in another type of horse arena, that of a show jumper. When she was twelve, her horse balked and she was thrown. Jules was in a coma and had to relearn how to speak. She is still afraid of horses to this day. She wants to get rid of her fear, but knows it will be a long process. So when her friend Beth invites her to her wedding in Desperation Oklahoma, Jules thinks this might be a good time to take on that fear. Beth introduces her to Tanner their first night home and now she has to contend with a sexy cowboy too.

The great thing about this story however, is the dimension that each character has. Jules is a lawyer who has dedicated herself to helping kids in the legal system, primarily because she has seen some great kids who just need some loving advice to make the right choices. When Tanner shares his frustrations about raising his 15 year old nephew Shawn, Jules feels like she can be of great help. Shawn is the product of teenagers who basically abandoned him. Tanner has done a great job of raising Shawn, but as any teenager, there have been some rough spots. Shawn wants to rodeo and Tanner is terrified that he will take off like his father. 

So Tanner has relationship issues because it seems like everyone eventually abandons him. Jules is fearful of Tanner getting hurt and Shawn is a teenager who is testing his limits and starting to wonder why his parents left him. The three need each other and their building relationship is engaging and full of trepidation. The romance follows the same course and commitment comes hard to all. 

This story pulls in the small town and friends and family help everyone see what is important.  Dreams are explored and the age-old question of how much is too much to pay for one’s dreams is also tackled. There is not much new here but the story flows. Tanner and Jules seem like real people. 

The Rodeo Rider is a category romance that covers no new ground. But it is one that warms the heart and will satisfy that need for a good story any afternoon. 

--Shirley Lyons

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