The Cowboy's Pride
Romance Reviews Today
Book Reviewed by JV (reviewer)
If you have a passion for cowboys, you'll love the hero of THE COWBOY'S PRIDE. Clay is everything a cowboy should be: hard-working, loyal, passionate, and a man of few words. Yet he shows his tender side in the way he behaves when his estranged wife blindsides him with a big surprise. I love a wounded hero, and this one fills the bill.
Clay's deepest desire is to fulfill the vow he made to his dying father to work the ranch, have children to cherish, and keep the Worth lineage and legacy going strong. That's been hard to do, though, since his wife Trish hasn't lived with him for a year. She is on her way home now to finalize a divorce and work her fundraising magic for a charitable cause they developed together. So imagine his surprise when she emerges from a cab with a baby in tow -- a baby who isn't his!
For 16 years, Clay Worth was a mega-watt country singing sensation in addition to having grown up as a cowboy on his father's ranch. In fact, he met Trish at a black-tie function in Nashville, literally bowling her over but catching her before she hit the floor. That was it for Clay. He was determined to have her, but she made him work hard to win her over before she finally agreed to marry him. Once they married, he hung up his stardom and his playboy ways and never looked back as he settled into life as a rancher and a husband.
Despite their love for each other and their mutual devotion to developing Penny's Song, a place on Worth land where children recovering from devastating illnesses can go to get their bearings before having to return to their normal lives, Clay and Trish butted heads often and loudly. Trish was not ready to have the children that Clay wanted. She was several years younger than Clay and wanted to focus on building her career as a publicist first. She also had unresolved issues from having grown up with a brother who had cancer and required all of his parents' attention, leaving Trish feeling as though she were always an afterthought. However, she loved her husband and was determined to get their marriage back on good footing, until the night she came home early and found him seemingly cozied up with a widowed neighbor who made it clear that she could give Clay everything he wanted. Trish had run back to Nashville that night and never returned -- until now.
Then Karin, a close friend of Trish's who'd been widowed recently, learned she was pregnant. Between her grief and an illness that she just couldn't overcome, Karin passed away shortly after Meggie was born, having elicited Trish's promise that she'd take Meggie and love her as her own if anything happened to Karin.
Now, Trish must spend some time on the ranch with Clay becoming familiar with how Penny's Song operates and designing the gala fundraising event that she'd promised to work on all while protecting her baby and her own heart from falling for her husband again. Despite all that has passed between them, Trish still has feelings for Clay, but she can't forgive him or see how they can rebuild their life together. Though he's furious over her abandonment, Clay still loves Trish, and their passion has not dimmed as a result of their separation. He can't see his way to forgiving her for falsely accusing him and walking out on their marriage -- or for denying him a child and then showing up with one. So, is finalizing the divorce their only answer, or can they find their way back to one another?
Charlene Sands does a fine job of letting the reader see each of the characters' insecurities and wounds, even when they can't show them to each other. Over the course of their working together, as they give in to the inevitable and overwhelming passion between them, we can easily see that their deep feelings for each other are still there, if only they can let down their guards a little bit.
As she tends to do, Ms. Sands has written a hero who is strong and hard-working and, outwardly, tough. Yet, he is tender and accepting of the baby and, though he tries not to show it, totally vulnerable to the wife he still loves. In my mind, I pictured a younger Sam Elliott as Clay with the rough voice and tough but tender persona. Her heroine has to come to understand her own fears and motivations in order to become a stronger and more confident person who is willing to risk reaching for what she really wants.
Ms. Sands described the ranch and the Red Ridge Mountains so that I could see the dust rising from the horses' hooves and feel the warmth of the sunset as I read. I very much enjoyed reading about this strong, stoic cowboy and the woman and child who stole his heart.