The Fortune Hunter

Gentle From the Night

One Small Secret

The Cowboy Meets His Match
by Meagan McKinney
(Silh. Desire #1299, 3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76299-2
Love stories that start with antagonism between the two main characters are often exciting and satisfying as they find some common ground and develop a strong connection to each other. If, however, the antagonism basically continues in varying degrees until the very end with only a couple of love scenes to show some connection, the book is just frustrating. The Cowboy Meets His Match has way too much antagonism.

Jacquelyn Rousseau is a reporter for newspaper in the small Montana town of Mystery. Although her father owns the paper and many other papers around the country, Jacquelyn, by her choice, works for a regular salary. Mystery is where her family has a summer home and they have visited every summer for years. Her parents are a dysfunctional pair. Her father thinks only of business and his next affair and her mother is a genteel alcoholic.

Jacquelyn has not had good luck with love. Her fiancé betrayed her with her best friend, calling her an "ice princess" in his parting shots. Rather than think of love, she devotes herself to her writing. She has been working on a series of articles about the founding of Mystery. Hazel McCallum, the matriarch of Mystery, has agreed to help with information about Jake McCallum, the founder. She asks Jacquelyn to recreate a five-day trail ride into the mountains, just like Jake and his new bride had done many years before. Hazel has asked A.J. Clayburn, a rodeo champ friend of hers, to be the guide for the trip.

Hazel has ulterior motives. She is the last of the McCallums and does not want the town to lose its small town feel. She is fighting the developers, such as Jacquelyn's father, but knows that the only way to save the town is to encourage new couples to settle there and raise families. Putting Jacquelyn and A.J. together for five days is her attempt to start matchmaking.

The two of them immediately annoy each other. He doesn't like privileged rich girls, so he starts digging at her as soon as he meets her. "Ice Princess" is one of the early terms he uses for her. This term, after her fiancé’s rejection and use of it, causes Jacquelyn to become haughty and proper, even correcting A.J.'s grammar while looking down her nose at him.

This pattern continues throughout the book. They spend so much time gibing at each other that the intense sex they have looks more like meaningless lust than love. I was not convinced that these two people could ever fall in love after the way they picked on each other the whole time. While the nastiness does lessen some at the end, it was too little, too late.

The writer did do a good job describing the scenery along the trail and some of the mishaps that occurred, but there are several passages of prose that are so overblown that they are just silly. Between this and my dislike of the two main characters, I almost stopped reading the book. If I had not been reading it to review, I would have not have finished it.

The Cowboy Meets His Match lacks sympathetic characters and instead, gives us characters who are intensely irritating. Even the beautiful Montana scenery cannot save this book.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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