Lila Harris and Brody Dawson were teenagers in love, albeit quietly and secretly. But the night he stood her up and she left town was then end of their romance and friendship. Twelve years later, Lila returns to Happy, Texas, to help sell the cafe her mother once ran and still owns. When Brody shows up, they realize their chemistry hasn’t faded after all this time, but can broken hearts be mended?
Toughest Cowboy in Texas is a sweet cowboy romance, but not necessarily right for me. Although I’m not a “cowboy romance” fan, I’ve read and enjoyed other books about cowboys (Lorelei James), working on a ranch (Jill Shalvis) and farmers (Alice Clayton). Yet Ms. Brown’s storytelling and subject matter just didn’t gel with me. First, she relies heavily on country music references, and since I absolutely do not like country music, this not only annoyed me, but left me confused as I didn’t understand the references. She used songs and lyrics to help set the mood or explain feelings, all which was lost to me.
Second, there were references to events, like one of the town’s folk disappearing years before, which were written in a way that confused me - wondering if it was something from another book/series - and why it was even part of the story since it seemed to have little impact. There was another scene that featured Lila’s former boyfriend, who is her boss, that also felt contrived and unnecessary. Finally, I didn’t care for some of the side characters - like both “mamas,” who feuded with one another and disapproved of Lila and Brody’s relationship. I felt their reactions and snide remarks were over the top.
With that, I did enjoy Brody and Lila together. I loved that they were able to look beyond the their pasts, right the wrongs, and work on a relationship like the adults they are now. Both had matured a lot, yet kept their youthful joy. Brody’s work on the ranch gives him responsibility for his actions - something he knows now he messed up in the past. And Lila had to learn to stand up for herself, that she’s normal and not some messed up, crazy teenager.
In the end, Toughest Cowboy in Texas will probably hit all the right notes for many. It’s a sweet story about forgiveness and second chances. The main characters are likable, strong, and generous. It’s just the country and western emphasis, along with the side characters and unnecessary scenes that bogged the book down for me.
My Rating: C, Finished It - Liked some, didn't like some
Review copy provided by NetGalley
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About