Jenna Reed, self-avowed dowdy schoolmarm (at the ripe old age of almost-thirty–don’t get me started!) has finally decided to do something wild, and see the world. She’s got a trip to Europe all planned for the summer break, and is rather excited about the idea of meeting a lovely man for a wild fling while she’s there…
…and then her brother calls. He needs help! His son needs to pass math and reading, and he’ll be out riding bulls all summer, on the pro circuit. Could she pleeeeease come to take care of him and tutor him? Oh, and by the way, Jenna, that guy Dustin you had a crush on in high school but never told anyone? The same guy who is your brother’s best friend and business partner, and also a pro bull rider? Yeah, he’s laid-up from getting stomped on by a big ol’ bull named Cowabunga, and he’ll be at the house, too.
Jenna is baffled why the handsome cowboy never has flirted with her, not even once. Heck, she had wished for him to ask her to the prom, but ended up going with her chums from the debate club. He went with another girl–just so he could see Jenna, but he never did get the nerve to ask her to dance. He knows why he’s not flirting with her, but can’t do a thing about it–he thinks–as he watches her try all sorts of out-of-character tricks she read about in a magazine to try and seduce him, but the thought of being clobbered by her protective big brother just holds him back.
Until it doesn’t.
How to Lasso a Cowboy‘s hero and heroine are engaging, thoroughly-real characters; Jenna is a talented primary school teacher who loves her job, but is thinking of breaking out of her old-maid persona a little, while Dustin is a quiet, thoughtful cowboy–in his spare time, he’s a painter, and quite a good one, at that. He’s close to his dream on the pro circuit when he gets injured. If he can heal quickly enough, he might make it back into the game in time to make the National Finals–and if he wins, he’s got his retirement planned. Clearly, these two have very different goals, and in fact, much of the friction between the two of them near the end of the book revolves around these different sets of goals. They love each other–lots–but can they live with each others’ dreams?
The setting and other players are all quite good. We’re in Arizona, and the setting plays a minor part in the story, and the descriptions are vivid enough to give you a good feel for the place. Jenna’s brother and nephew are great characters; the young nephew really enjoys his “Uncle” Dustin, who shows himself to be outstanding with the kiddo, which certainly draws Jenna’s eye.
Typically for this line, there are a limited number of intimate moments portrayed–just one, in this case! But when they finally get to it, the quality here certainly makes up for it; Dustin and Jenna’s pent-up passion for each other is spectacularly released for their first time together. Additional encounters are “off-screen.”
How to Lasso a Cowboy is not for everyone; if you’re not a fan of contemporary romance with a Western feel about it, you probably won’t like this one, but for the legions of us who do, this book is a good ‘un.