An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy by June Kearns

Texas in the nineteenth century. Colt McCall, half Sioux, half Irish, is a handsome cowboy. He earns his living dealing horses, is popular with the local ladies, and has friends in unlikely places – as well as enemies. Colt has a reputation and he has a shady past. Staying alive is tough enough; this here’s Comanche country and it sure ain’t no place for a lady.

Annie Haddon – abandoned by her father and left in the care of her unwilling aunts, permanently lame after a spiteful trick by her cousin Charlotte, and all but promised in marriage to a man who repulses her – is travelling with her relatives in a stagecoach when it is attacked, and she is knocked unconscious and left for dead.

Colt is on a mission. He is in a hurry, is in dangerous territory, and a badly injured Englishwoman is the last thing he needs. But he sure ain’t gonna leave a lady to the mercy of scalp-hunters, so he hauls her onto his horse and together they set off to take Annie to a place of safety where she can hopefully be reunited with her family and the man who is to become her husband.
Annie is scared of McCall and he has no time for prissy English women. They come from different worlds and don’t have much trust in each other. Yet, somehow, their journey across the inhospitable Texan plains will bring healing and a whole new beginning for them both…
I loved this book, although I admit I was reluctant to read it. I’m not particularly interested in Westerns and the idea of a cowboy hero didn’t appeal to me. However, I’m happy to say I was right to give it a try. Colt McCall is a real treat. A rootin’ tootin’ cowboy with full on sex appeal, yet kind and understanding, with just enough hurt in his past to make any woman’s heart melt. Oh, and he’s kind to puppies, too!
Annie is a very modern nineteenth century miss, with a determined attitude and strong moral values, but she is also very human. She makes lots of mistakes and errors of judgement and I loved the fact that she wasn’t the typical beautiful heroine. Her cousin, Charlotte, makes the point very forcibly on several occasions that Annie is no beauty and hardly likely to attract any man with her limp and her frizzy red hair. Yet Colt sees beyond all that, ignoring Charlotte’s prettiness and falling for the person that Annie truly is.

There is lots of witty banter between the two of them, as well as a sizzling chemistry. The characters in the book are all very deftly portrayed and feel very real and easy to visualise. There is some wonderful descriptive prose, too, which really brings the west to life. You almost feel the scorching heat on your back, see the sun-bleached bones of dead buffalo, and cough to clear the dust from your throat as you read this novel. It really is wonderful and I can’t wait to read the author’s next book. Colt McCall is a wanted man – and frankly, I’m not surprised! 5/5

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