The Cowboy Code

 
How to Lasso a Cowboy
by Christine Wenger
(Harl. Spec. Ed #2129, $5.25, G) ISBN 978-0373-65611-0
**
The writing in this tale is well paced and the overall storyline, while unimaginative is rather status quo…two people who knew each other years before are thrown together by circumstances and find they still have feelings. What sets this apart and just did not resonate with this reader were the juvenile attitudes of the couple who are supposed to be almost 30 years old. They acted like teenagers, and thus ruined the story.

Bull rider Dustin Morgan has been the normal happy go lucky cowboy for almost twelve years. At least he was on the surface and from his actions, he had everyone fooled. Buckle bunnies followed him around and he didn’t even have a place to go home to if he wanted. His hometown was there, but his parents had given up their ranch and traveled. They are now in Alaska. Dustin still had his best friend Tom Reed, who owns a ranch, but otherwise, he was a carefree bachelor. Dustin is recuperating from a busted leg, and has been feeling the need to settle down. He is determined to get better, get back on the bulls, win the championship and then buy a ranch and settle down.

Jenna Reed, Tom’s sister, may be a good candidate. Dustin feels like he has loved Jenna forever. He was highly attracted in high school, but he was a jock; she was a shy nerd and Tom had warned him off of her. His promise to leave her alone was sacred. But he had never lost his sense of calm and attraction.

Jenna, meanwhile has gotten her degree and been teaching school. She carries a torch and followed Dustin’s rodeo career all along. Of course, she convinced herself he was just her brother’s friend and she was really following the circuit since Tom kept his hand in every once in a while. But in her heart, she knew it was Dustin for her. Of course, Tom had warned her about his lack of sincerity and seriousness long ago. That didn’t keep Jenna from wishing that just once Dustin would notice her. Why, at their senior prom, she even left early – heartbroken that he had never asked her to dance.

Now she is determined to give up her life of peace and set out on adventure. She booked a singles tour of Europe and is determined to have at least one fling while she is there. But when Tom called needing her help with his son who is close to failing fourth grade, she canceled the trip and headed for his ranch. It was only after she agreed that she discovered that while Tom would not be there, his friend Dustin would be.

Jenna and Dustin are two of a kind and did deserve each other. However, that may not be a good thing. Dustin spent the entire book worrying about his promise to Tom while he lusted after Jenna. He would kiss her and then back off. He would stare at her and tease her, only to hightail it to the barn when he thought she might be responding. Jenna meanwhile, acted like a naďve sixteen year old with a crush. She even decided to follow the advice on how to get a man from a market store magazine. She acted immature and not at all like a fourth grade teacher who was thirty years old.

The scenarios they dealt with are even unrealistic at times. For instance, when Dustin needs to film a commercial to maintain a sponsor contract, Jenna stands in for the professional actress who got sick. And the scene involved a woman wearing a bikini which prompted Dustin to kiss her even though it wasn’t in the script. This reader wasn’t buying.

How to Lasso A Cowboy is a category romance that reads like a teenage crush story, not like the romance of two mature adults. It is one lasso I can’t recommend you throwing.

--Shirley Lyons


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