The Cowboys: Buck

The Cowboys: Pete

The Cowboys:Sean

The Cowboys: Ward

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Married by Noon

The Winner's Circle

The Cowboys: Drew
by Leigh Greenwood
(Leisure, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN: 0-8439-4714-4
Leigh Greenwood’s western romances have a large and loyal following. This latest installment in “The Cowboys” series should appeal to his many fans. The “cowboy” in this book isn’t a boy at all, but rather Drew Townshend, the only girl among the eleven orphans adopted by Jake and Isabelle many years earlier.

To earn money to buy her own ranch, Drew has taken a job as a sharpshooter in a wild west show. One night, a man steps down from the audience and accepts her challenge to a shooting competition. Unlike most of the men who try to beat Drew, Cole Benton is actually able to give her a contest. He also has a way of appealing to the audience. The next thing Drew knows, her boss is informing her that Cole is going to be part of her act. Drew isn’t happy, but she has to admit that Cole’s ideas give her act a lot more pizzazz.

Cole isn’t the drifter he seems. Rather, he is a government agent, charged with ferreting out the identity of a daring bank robber. It seems that very often when Earl Odum’s Wild West Show is in the vicinity, a female who is a crack shot and her two accomplices rob a bank. Drew is the obvious suspect.

But as Cole gets to know Drew, it seems less and less probable that she could be the guilty party. Yes, her two brother Zeke and Hawk -- also part of the show -- could well be her accomplices, but Drew doesn’t act like a criminal. She may be prickly and proud, but she also seems to generally care about all the show’s performers and workers. And then there’s the fact that Cole is immensely attracted to this unusual woman.

Drew may be likewise attracted to her new associate, but she won’t admit it. She never figured that marriage would be part of her future; she can’t imagine anyone falling in love with a bossy, straight shooting, straight talking woman who wants to run her own life. In short, Drew underestimates her own attractiveness.

Greenwood succeeds in combining romance, humor, and suspense in The Cowboys: Drew. Drew’s reactions to her growing feelings for Cole are sometimes sweet and sometimes funny. Likewise, her brothers’ protectiveness adds a nice bit of humor.

Cole is a yummy hero. Handsome, smart, brave, and amusing, one can sure understand why Drew can’t resist his charm and neither can the reader. That he concludes that Drew couldn’t possibly be a thief, despite the strong circumstantial evidence that points to her, shows that he is also quite smart. And he feels nicely guilty that he is forced to deceive the woman he is coming to love.

If the whodunit -- or rather the who is doing it -- element of the story is not particularly profound, nevertheless it is entertaining. Also fun are Greenwood’s implicit references to Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show and its famous star, Annie Oakley. Finally, it’s enjoyable to revisit some of the characters from Greenwood’s earlier books.

In sum, The Cowboys: Drew is an entertaining western romance that isn’t really western at all. Oh, there’s plenty of shooting and roping and riding, but all in the context of show business. There is also a charming romance, a truly feisty heroine, and a dashing hero. All in all, a very satisfying read.

--Jean Mason

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