Genres: Romantic Suspense
Judith’s review of Her Cowboy Distraction by Carla Cassidy.
She’d been watching the handsome rancher for a while, just a lone cowboy eating pie with an empty chair beside him. One night, Lizzie Wiles, Cowboy Cafe’s feisty new waitress, went over and dared to interrupt his tortured solitude. Daniel Jefferson seemed shocked by her boldness as he buried himself in guilt over his wife’s mysterious death. Lizzie tried to penetrate his gloom, but in the end, found herself falling in love. Having plans to leave town, she didn’t want to think of these consequences. Worse, someone “really” wanted her to disappear–now Attacked and warned to leave, Lizzie had every reason to go…but she had one undeniable reason to stay.
The idea of a Bucket List has become popular in recent years and is something that many people assemble over the course of their lives. However, most people think of completing it toward the end of their lives or when receiving news of a terminal health condition. Such is not the case with Lizzie Wiles, a young woman whose mother’s death has spurred her toward her undertaking of fulfilling her Bucket List and making sure she fulfilled all her dreams early in her life. It became the driving force in her life and one that set the framework of every decision she made, including the boundaries and perimeters of her personal relationships.
Now she has observed a man whose actions each week puzzle and fascinate her. Why did Daniel order a piece of pie for someone who never showed up? Lizzie found that she just couldn’t seem to resist the urge to challenge Daniel and force him to respond differently than he had in previous weeks. Out of that action came a strange but somehow fulfilling relationship, one that Lizzie appreciated but one that she was needing to leave because it didn’t fit into her Bucket List plans.
This story is more about one woman’s need to please her dead mother, her need to fulfill her dreams, and her unwillingness to see her compulsion in wider terms. When her heart became engaged, the reader becomes aware that Lizzie would rather give up a strong and generous love than her decision to fulfill her promise to her now-dead mother. The death of Daniel’s wife may be an important part of his anxiety and deep guilt, but the full explanation isn’t a part of the narrative nor is the reader really satisfied about all the happenings of that event. What is really important is the struggle Lizzie undergoes as she weighs her desire to be with Daniel over against her desire to complete her personal mission. And while I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding the death of Daniel’s wife and the apparent unhappiness of their relationship prior to her death, I was far more involved in Lizzie’s development, in her growth as a person as she moved through her grief for her mother and in her unfolding understanding of herself and what was really important for her future.
This is a relative quick read and one that will be easy to move through for most readers. Yet it has some meaty aspects, ideas and concepts that give it weight and value as it points out the need for each person to determine what is really important and how to claim a future that is fulfilling and one that will inspire continued personal growth. I found the writing to be well done and the story crafted by an author who knew how to put a good novel together. The story wasn’t rushed nor did I feel that important ingredients has been left out. While some reviewers seem disappointed that more was not made of the death mystery, I felt that it was sufficiently explained to give balance to Daniel and Lizzie’s story. I liked the book a lot and was glad for a read that was interesting and one that kept my imagination working all through the text. I hope you’ll check it out.
I give it a rating of 4 out of 5
This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here