Monday, February 15, 2010

Review: Cool Hand Hank

Title: Cool Hand Hank
Author: Kathleen Eagle
Genre: Western Romance
My rating (Max 10): 10

There are very few romance authors who tackle the concept of a handicapped hero or heroine living a life as normal as their disability will allow and giving them a love story with a happily-ever-after ending. Kathleen Eagle did just that in her wonderful book, Cool Hand Hank, the last book in a trilogy.

Sally Dexter, along with her sister, Annie, ran a sanctuary for wild horses on their family ranch, the Double D. Known as Mustang Sally, she was obsessive about rescuing wild horses before they became extinct. Sally struggled against her neighbor who hated horses and was trying at every opportunity to sabotage her ranch, the Bureau of Land Management that made difficult demands; but most difficult, Sally struggled against the crippling effects if her incurable disease, Multiple Sclerosis.

Sally was attending her sister Annie's wedding to Zach Beaudry, both of whom we met in book two, One Cowboy, One Christmas. While there, she met Zach's friend, Hank Night Horse, a physician's assistant and farrier who followed the rodeo circuit.

Hank is a full-blooded Lakota Sioux, with a passion for horses, like Sally's, and a fun-loving dog called Phoebe. He serves as the wedding singer and has Sally's full interest before the evening is even half over. She talks him into helping her and her foreman, Hoolie,
run the ranch while Annie and Zach are on their honeymoon.

The attraction and affection between Sally and Hank grows and deepens as they deal with Sally's various challenges. Sally, whose disease is in remission as the story begins, tries very hard to mask her disease's many symptoms. She succeeds until she is in a one-car accident from which Hank rescues her. Afraid he would not want to be around an incurably sick woman, Sally faces Hank with her illness and gains his love and respect for everything she is plus her courage.

Sally and Hank are completely endearing characters. The supporting "cast," including the two irascible dogs, Babe and Phoebe, are characterized so well through dialogue and actions that they are as "real" as are the main characters. The narrative moves smoothly and quickly, taking the reader on an enjoyable and heartwarming journey.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a sensitive and kind alpha-male hero and a plucky and loving heroine who join forces to face the challenges of life together.

Book 1: In Care of Sam Beaudry
Book 2: One Cowboy, One Christmas
Book 3: Cool Hand Hank

As always... Thanks for stopping by. Make it a great day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: Wyoming Solace

Title: Wyoming Solace
Author: Alanna Coca
Genre: Western Romance
My rating (Max 10): 10

I love this book. It is the story of a battered and abused woman, married to a monster, who engineers an escape from her life of horrors.

Mary Elise Stanton, along with her butler and lifelong friend, Daniel Keane, takes the train west from Virginia to Wyoming. Along the way, she drops her first name and married surname and used her middle and maiden name to reinvent herself as Elise Vickerson.

At first, masquerading as a married couple, Elise and Daniel moved into Elise's recently deceased father's ranch the V-Bar. It was their intention to fix up the ranch, sell it and then have Daniel rejoin his real wife back east while Elise advanced west to start a new life alone.

Elise's plans ran into the tough-as-nails neighboring rancher, Cody Campbell who she knew as a young child before her family moved east from the ranch to Virginia for her mother's health when the then Mary was twelve. Cody insisted that his father, Alan, had purchased the V-Bar from Elise's father, Edward, making her plans impossible. Elise, however, didn't believe Cody's ownership assertion and thus the story-long conflict.

The story covers Elise's life during the next several months: her never-ending fear that her husband would find her, her repairs on the V-Bar along with Daniel and the enigmatic handyman, Joe; and the growing love between her and her neighbor, Cody.

The narrative moves quickly, keeping the reader's interest by not dwelling on any event too long, by aptly describing people and places without giving too much detail, and by having a small cast of interesting primary and secondary characters.

This is Ms. Coca's first published book and it was perfect. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys western romances, strong heroines, and tough but loving cowboys.