Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5187-7
Historical Romance, 2003
To all you Art Department people out there that believe the only good man on the romance novel cover is a shirtless man, do take a look at the cover of Linda Broday’s The Cowboy Who Came Calling. Sometimes it is nicer to look at a handsome fully dressed man and imagine him naked than to gawk at a half-naked cheesy himbo hawking romance and steroids in one go. Not that I imagined the hunk on the cover naked. Not much anyway. Okay, maybe a little. Oh, forget it, let’s talk about the story instead.
Like pretty much the story of most Western romances, The Cowboy Who Came Calling is a stereotype in itself. It has the usual cast of ninnies: a foolhardy heroine that mistakes monstrous stupidity for independence, a deliberately mysterious hero with a gun, and the inevitable and painful results that occur when you pair a stupid but determined heroine and a stubborn and mistrustful hero. If these two talk or stop and think with their brain for once, things will be more pleasant in this story.
Glory Marie Day has more problems than she can count. Her father is in jail, dying, and wants to die at home. Mommy is going crazy. One sister dresses up the cats in dolly frippery. One more sister helps – or tries to. A mule’s kick in the head causes Glory to believe that she is losing her vision. So what does a short-sighted lady to do? Become a bounty hunter and accidentally shoots the framed Texas Ranger out to clear his name! Luke McClain, the brother that lost the girl to his brother in the author’s previous book, is after the same bad guy as Glory May Hallelujah here.
The story then takes a very familiar turn as Glory May Hellelujah then takes Luke to her place for that bedside healing thing that apparently every Western romance must have. The story then takes on even more tedious and familiar patterns: Luke of course can’t tell what he’s doing even as Glory May Hallelujah starts to suspect that he’s up to no good (not that there’s any reason why he can’t tell her, actually), and Glory May Hallelujah insisting that she is her own woman and she can take care of herself right before she steps right into trouble and has to be rescued. And believe me, Glory May Hallelujah does several really unbelievably dumb things in this book. Since when is desperation an excuse for stupidity?
There are some good things here – Glory May Hallelujah’s eyesight problem is well-handled and the secondary characters are pretty interesting. But with the main romance (and the hero) being straight cookie-cutter “Idiot heroine with a gun, misunderstood lawman on the run, just add bedside healing” material, The Cowboy Who Came Calling just doesn’t pack enough punch to bring it home. If the author can think outside the same old tired Western romance formula for her next book, maybe she’ll come up with a good book. But not now, not with this book, I’m afraid.