by Sandra Hill, contemporary (2004)
Warner, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61295-2
Charmaine LeDeux is determined not to be perceived as a bimbo. Just because she's a former beauty queen who has married four times and she knows hairdressing better than anything else do not mean that she's without brains, after all! She has a successful chain of hair salons, okay, two hair salons to prove that she too can be as sharp as any tool in the shed. But when she hits some financial difficulties, she goes ahead and borrows from the kind of moneylender who emulates that fat guy in The Sopranos too much. And then she learns that she hasn't actually divorced her first husband yet when he tells him so. Ah yes, Charmaine is the kind of person who will insist until the cows come home that she is smart and then goes ahead to spell intelligence as "I-N-T-E-L-I-G-E-N-S".
Her first husband, Raoul "Rusty" Lamier, has just been released from jail. He didn't dabble in drug dealing for which he served time for, however, and now he wants to clear his name and nab those SOBs who were the ones responsible. But first, he wants to legally divorce Charmaine once and for all. When Charmaine receives the papers and realize that she's still married to him and even better, she has legal claims to half of his father's ranch, she takes this opportunity to run straight to Triple L and hide there until she manages to find the money to placate the thugs beating down her door for the fifty grand she owes them.
Rusty believes that Charmaine has somehow conspired with his late father to cheat him out of his share of Triple L, but he doesn't have the heart to turn down Charmaine's pleas for help when it's obvious that she'll be fish food when the thugs catch her. But when they are together in the ranch in the middle of nowhere, it's easy to fall in love all over again.
The Cajun Cowboy is part of the author's series revolving around the LeDeux clan. I really don't have much to say that is different from my review of the author's previous book in the series, Tall, Dark, And Cajun, because The Cajun Cowboy has the same strengths and flaws. I like Charmaine. She's a self-proclaimed born-again virgin with a colorful personality. Rusty Lamier sounds like a porn star's name but he's really naughty, that man, with sex appeal and a naughty way with words as well as with his fingers and tongues.
But like too many of this author's books, The Cajun Cowboy has a very obvious sagging middle filled with too much padding. The author doesn't have a decent internal conflict for Rusty and Charmaine - it is, after all, a flimsy miscommunication issue - and the Mafia thing is actually kept to the background. What this book has is plenty of wacky secondary characters cluttering up the pages. Oh, wacky old ladies like Tante Lulu! Oh, horny young men! Oh, lusty LeDeux brothers whose stories are waiting in the wings! Here, eat wacky. Eat some more. Have another slice of wacky. Don't stop, here's some more! There's plenty of wacky to go around.
Sure, this book is funny - very funny at places - as the one-liners can really be too much and too funny, and Rusty really knows how to do that sarcastic-is-sexy thing very well. This book is sexy and hilarious. But unfortunately, there is very little for me to savor beyond the superficial sitcom moments. Charmaine and Rusty have very little credible internal conflict to begin with and the secondary cast trying very hard to bring on the wacky provides very little substance to the story. It's great that Ms Hill knows how to entertain her readers - in this respect this book is a hoot - but I can't help wishing that there is a little bit of depths in this story for me to sink my teeth into. The Cajun Cowboy is the kind of book to laugh with, the book that I will put aside so that I can reread this when I need a pick-me-up, only to have a hard time remembering even the title of this book a week later, much less where I've put this book.
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