Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: Cowgirl At Heart by Christine Lynxwiler

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Elyse McCord always plays it safe -- a fact she blames on being the biological daughter of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. Even in the security of her adoptive family, the McCords, the timid dog whisperer keeps her guard up with strangers. But when she discovers a dog being horribly mistreated, she Elyse transforms into a mighty warrior and charger into a perilous situation, not only risking her life, but also her heart.

Reporter Andrew Stone has been fearless since the day his wife was shot and killed three years ago. He has one mission-use his Texas Ranger upbringing to find her murderer and clear his own name of any involvement. When he sees a beautiful brunette in the hands of a pistol-wielding maniac, he's forced to abandon his covert surveillance and go to the rescue. The danger surrounding Andrew doesn't scare him at all, but the awakening of his dormant heart terrifies him.

When painful pasts collide, the explosion is deafening. Can Andrew and Elyse pick up the pieces and go forward together? Or will they forever live with haunting memories, unable to forgive, unable to love? 

My source for book: Personal Library
My Thoughts:
This one immediately starts out with a bang, featuring an intense rescue scenario--with an unlikely heroine--that instantly pulled me in to the story. As you get to know Elyse, her shy nature makes it all the more amazing that she'd put herself into such an unpredictable situation. I actually really liked her and found her easy to relate to. I also liked her dogs and the work she did with them, and her tips of insight into their behavior were quite interesting. Elyse's painfully shy nature really rang true, and I thought it was pretty cool how she could so easily talk with Andrew right after first meeting him despite the fact that her shyness usually rendered her speechless around strangers!  

Andrew has a lot of secrets in his past, which makes him rather intriguing. Initially I didn't quite know what to make of him, though I immediately liked him. I thought his protectiveness of Elyse was sweet, and it was especially unique when they hadn't even put a label on their relationship. Right from the beginning Andrew and Elyse really clicked, and it was fun to see their friendship slowly grow in spite of the fact that they both held secrets that they were reluctant to reveal.

The story is ultimately about Elyse and Andrew with the point of view switching back and forth between them, but there are also small sections that revolve around Elyse's sisters, Kaleigh and Crystal. In all honesty I felt the subplots about Kaleigh and Crystal were a bit unnecessary... in particular, the story revolving around Crystal and her fiance was slightly odd because it didn't completely mesh with the ending of the previous McCord book, which featured Crystal as the main character. Despite this bit of nit-picking, I really did enjoy the story overall. Elyse and Andrew are very strong characters and they easily carry the story on their own, which is perhaps why I thought the subplots weren't necessary.

I also want to mention the cover. It's gorgeous to start with, but after you read the book it gets even better as it ultimately ties into the story in a really awesome way. Bravo to the cover design team! :)

Cowgirl At Heart is the second book in the McCord Sister series, and while you could read it as a standalone if you wanted to, it really is a bit better if you've read the previous book. I believe the series was originally planned to be a trilogy, however the third book seems to have been put on hold indefinitely. (I hope to see it released at some point as the McCord family is a fun one and there are still a lot of stories that could be told.) Despite all that, Cowgirl At Heart does end well and there are no loose ends left hanging. I very much enjoyed the story and I can easily recommend it, especially to those who love dogs or who know what it's like to be shy.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

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