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Her Kind of Cowboy by Dylann Crush


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Her Kind of Cowboy

by Dylann Crush
January 12, 2021 · Berkley
Romance

Her Kind of Cowboy, from the Tying the Knot in Texas series, promises pit bulls and penguins, and it delivers on the pit bulls and somewhat on the penguins. What it does not deliver is a plausible, coherent, consistent storyline or plausible, in depth character development. Don’t get me wrong, I found it highly entertaining, but a large amount of my entertainment came from pondering the many odd things about it (and a couple of troubling things as well).

The book takes place in Ido, Texas, which Mayor Lacey Cherish, from the previous book The Cowboy Says I Do, is trying to make into a nationally coveted wedding destination. The publisher’s description is far better and wackier, than anything I could devise:

Having successfully established themselves as a destination for weddings, the town of Ido is ready to kick it up another notch. Zina Baxter has stood on the sidelines during most of the matrimonial mayhem. But when a disaster at the pit bull rescue has her relocating the pups to share space with a winter wonderland scene, she finds herself smack dab in the middle of planning the craziest wedding yet.

Alex Sanders ran as far and fast as he could from his hometown–all the way to Antarctica. But a job opportunity as the penguin handler for an over-the-top wedding jerks entices him back. Being home means he can finally help his overwhelmed sister wrangle their unruly grandpa–at least until the next opportunity comes around and he can hit the road running again. The last thing he expects to find in Texas is a shot at love…

Once Alex crashes into Zina’s life–literally–there’s no denying their chemistry. But are their feelings for each other enough to keep Alex in Texas for good, or will he follow the march of the penguins back to the South Pole?

I know you guys may expect scintillating prose from my reviews, but this book broke my brain. There are plotlines about Alex’s grandfather (Gramps) who refuses to live in a nursing home, and Alex’s sister, Char, who has four kids, a parrot, and a husband serving in Afghanistan and who is exhausted. There is tension between Zina and Lacey. There’s a pit bull dog fighting ring that is menacing Zina and newborn puppies to bottle feed (mercifully, they are fostered with a dog who can nurse them about a day after they were rescued by Alex and Zina). Zina’s brother, Zeb, has PTSD. The wedding planner, Chyna, keeps swooping into town and irritating everyone. Alex and Zina both have abandonment issues that are never fully addressed. Plotlines appear and disappear like confetti in the wind.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of my observations and my questions. Seriously – I deleted some questions in the interest of brevity.

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Observations

  • There are no cowboys in this book.
  • There is no discussion of the ethics of aquariums, zoos, or training penguins to perform in weddings.
  • Abuse of dogs is not depicted but is alluded to because Zina rescues pit bulls and at one point she and Alex rescue some that were being held by dog fighters and are scarred or otherwise injured. All the dogs in the book end up ok.
  • For a book that promises penguins we don’t get much time with the penguins. This is a travesty.
  • I love Alex’s interaction with his nieces and how he is supposed to watch his language but can’t stop swearing, a habit the parrot instantly adopts.
  • I don’t know whether the depiction of Zeb’s PTSD is accurate but on at least one occasion Zina speaks for him when he is standing right there and that is NOT COOL.
  • When you bottle feed newborn puppies, you also have to wipe their cute little asses to get them to urinate and defecate. Being covered with formula and puppy pee at 4AM is not sexy. The book leaves this part out. Also, the answer to “should we wake them up to feed them” is, unfortunately, “Yes,” not “Let’s have sex instead” as the book indicates.
  • For the love of all that is holy, if you find abandoned puppies in a relatively safe place, (in this book, they are hidden in a hollow log) do NOT move them right away! Give mom a chance to come back! This is an essential step, do not skip it! Zina should know better!
  • Having pink hair is not an indicator of evil and neither is using a lot of hand sanitizer while travelling – even pre-Covid. #JusticeForChynaTheWeddingPlannerFromTheBigCity
  • At the 68% mark, Zina and Alex come to the conclusion that “they might just be falling in love.” There is no indication that they have progressed this far emotionally. They have great sex, Alex makes good quesadillas, and they work well together. These are excellent ingredients for love, but they are not, in themselves, love. Call me a cynical soul, but even at the end of the book I don’t think their relationship troubles are over.

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Questions

  • When Alex brought his nieces to the diner, and one of the nieces smuggled the parrot in a bag, and the parrot escaped and wreaked havoc, how big a tip did Alex leave? I cannot evaluate his character without an answer to this question.
  • Should Alex really be dragged through the coals for choosing a life of travel instead of settling down in his hometown to help out his sister? He did not choose to marry someone in the military – that was his sister’s choice. He did not choose to have four kids – that was his sister’s choice. Why is he being held accountable for not assisting his admittedly beleaguered sister with her chosen life? I have every sympathy for his sister, but Alex is villainized for not staying around and helping his family and I have some serious problems with that.
  • Why in the name of God does Lacey say, angrily, “How did you go from hating the idea of turning this town into wedding central to running behind the scenes on our biggest wedding yet?” Lacey, you ASKED Zina to run behind the scenes! In fact, you ORDERED her to do it! Because you are on bed rest because of your pregnancy! Remember, that whole plot thing that JUST HAPPENED? What the Hell!
  • Why IS Zina so opposed to the idea of turning this town into wedding central, and where did that plot thread go?
  • Won’t Alex have to leave town if he decides to go to vet school? Is he going to vet school?
  • What happened with the pit bull dog fighting ring? They were menacing Zina and being a major part of the plot for most of the book and then they just moved out of town. Since a second earlier they were vandalizing her house and destroying her life this seems…odd.
  • One minute Alex has to bring his sister’s kids with him everywhere and suddenly he has loads of time without them. Did she hire a new babysitter? Did they go to a boarding school in a far away land? I am confused.
  • What happened to Gramps’ problems with falling? Why didn’t the hinting about a serious health problem when he was at the aquarium go anywhere?
  • Being on bed rest in the first trimester sounds pretty serious! Will Lacey’s baby be OK? There’s another book coming up so maybe this is addressed then.

As you can see, dear readers, this book has problems. However, I did enjoy the character interactions, the humor, and the doggies (less so the penguins, because we don’t get as much time with them and frankly I was worried about their health what with being transferred from Houston and having to train with a new person in a new place right away). I enjoyed the children and the generally madcap ambiance.

However, I must say that this was one of the oddest books I have read, what with plot lines trailing into nothing and characters often saying completely contradictory things to themselves and each other from page to page. This may entertain readers who are able to read with an uncritical mind and just let the wedding planning wash over them, but it drove me up the wall. All the dropped plot threads left me feeling itchy in my brain. Everything that was resolved seemed to be resolved a little too easily and everything that wasn’t resolved left me frustrated and fretting. I know this is fiction but I worry about those penguins, and the dog fighting ring is just going to start up somewhere else, and doesn’t the whole ending fall apart if, as hinted, Alex goes to vet school? This would have been a fun book if it had contained fewer plots and more resolution.

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