Dr. Cowboy by Cathy Gillen Thacker
(Harl American #789, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-16789-X
Get ready for the four McCabe brothers and their stories. "John and Lilah McCabe have four of the sexiest sons Laramie, Texas, has ever seen -- but no grandbabies! Now they're fixin' to get a whole passel of ‘em." If Dr. Cowboy is to your likin', the next three brothers have their stories in Wildcat Cowboy (HA 793), A Cowboy's Woman (HA 797) and A Cowboy Kind of Daddy (HA 801).

The first book features Jackson McCabe, who's just completed his surgical residency and is heading for Fort Worth to practice. He's seen his dad, a doctor who's finally retiring, work hard in Laramie and not get ahead. Jackson is going to make Big Money in the Big City. He's got a month before he starts and is going to spend the time with his parents to witness them renewing their wedding vows and to visit with his brothers.

At the retirement/bachelor party, a stripper jumps out of the cake and after kissing the senior McCabe, takes Jackson's hand and leads him into a back room. Jackson is bemused, fairly sure that his dad hasn't hired a real stripper. When she playfully binds his hands behind him, he does begin to wonder what he's gotten himself into. After she introduces herself as Dr. Lacey Buchanon, he senses that there's more to this ‘abduction' than he first thought.

Lacey wants Jackson to take his father's place as a Laramie physician. She's got a month to convince him that he belongs in Laramie and not in the Big City.

A mother and daughter, just passing through Laramie, are an entertaining secondary couple. As Lacey and Jackson work to determine the cause of the little girl's illness, they find that they are a very capable, competent team. There are also glimpses of the special bond that small towns seem to possess as they rally to the aid of the mother, who knows that her job in California has already been filled because of her prolonged stay in Laramie.

My problem with Dr. Cowboy is primarily Jackson's wishy-washy behavior. He's interested in Lacey, but keeps reminding her that he's headed to Fort Worth, where the Big Money is. However, that doesn't stop him from trying to get her into bed. He's seen his dad work too hard and won't let himself care enough for Lacey to change his beliefs. Or will he? Therein lies the crux of the problem. When supposedly strongly held beliefs crumble, it always makes me wonder how firm they were in the first place.

A scene that seemed silly involves Jackson and Lacey going to Ft. Worth for the weekend. When Lacey sees their accommodations, she's uncomfortable spending that much money. In Fort Worth?!? I found her reaction to be both gauche and unrealistic. How likely is it that a beautiful young doctor would be socially backward? Are many medical schools located in Very Small Town, USA?

The glimpses that we're given of the other three brothers are not enticing enough to make me even curious to see if John and Lilah McCabe ever git their gran'babies. For that matter, I never bought into Lacey and Jackson's romance. Everything just seemed flat and dull, much like I imagine the drive from Laramie to Fort Worth.

--Linda Mowery

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