Laredo’s Sassy Sweetheart
by Tina Leonard
(Harl. American #981, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-16981-7
Laredo Jefferson has left the family ranch in Union Junction, Texas, to travel east and do something big with his life. He’s always had a bit of wandering in him and he figures it’s past due for him to hit the road and find himself. Too bad he only gets as far as the next town over.

Laredo swings by the Lonely Hearts Beauty Salon to say fare-thee-well to a group of ladies that have made his life, and the lives of his 11 brothers, more interesting of late. He no sooner hits the sidewalk than Katy Goodnight pulls him inside the salon and announces that he’s just the guy they need to thwart their rivals – the Never Lonely Cut-N-Gurls Salon.

Every year the salons sponsor a rodeo bull for a bull ride, raising money for charity and a little for themselves. Well the Lonely Hearts gals really need to win, and Katy figures that a hunky Jefferson cowboy will do the trick. Unfortunately for Katy, she picks the wrong cowboy. Laredo is one of the very few Jefferson brothers that has never ridden a bull – but he seems determined to be Katy’s hero, thinking it’s the first of many “big things” he’s supposed to do with his life.

Normally when I call a book silly I don’t mean it as a compliment. Yet, as I was reading Leonard’s second book in her “Cowboys By The Dozen” series I realized that, while it was silly and almost completely devoid of reality, I was having a darn good time. How else would you characterize a book with two rival beauty salons, two ornery bulls named Bad-Ass Blue and Bloodthirsty Black, panties with famous movie quotes written on them, a Playboy photographer, and a heroine who’s name was probably inspired by a James Bond movie?

Katy is normally the sort of heroine that sets my teeth on edge – as while she is book smart, she is really innocent when it comes to men and s-e-x. As she and Laredo start spending more time together, Katy realizes that she’s tired of her innocence – and maybe she’s supposed to do something big with her life. It also wouldn’t hurt to prove her ex-fiancé wrong since he was the one who called her frigid.

Laredo is probably more bull than Bloodthirsty Black and Bad-Ass Blue put together. He’s got charm to spare, confidence running over, yet Katy has him so turned inside-out that he doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. Frankly, it’s rather endearing to think that this macho cowboy gets completely befuddled by an innocent slip of a girl who’s determined to be bad.

Leonard provides the reader with several laugh out loud moments – most generating from two of Laredo’s brothers along for the ride and Katy’s new best friend Hannah Hotchkiss – who’s saucier than a BBQ cook out. There’s also a rival Never Lonely girl who’s so bad she’s good.

While book two does stand alone quite well, readers who fall for the frothy silliness will definitely want to see about catching up with brother Frisco’s story – and will likely start marking their calendars for the next 10 books in the series. I know I haven’t had this much fun in ages – making Laredo’s Sassy Sweetheart the first book in a stretch that had me easily flipping the pages. Who knew that silly could be so much fun?

--Wendy Crutcher

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