Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: Once A Cowboy by Linda Warren

Title: Once A Cowboy
Author: Linda Warren
Release Date: February 1, 2009
Publisher: Harlequin
Category: Western Contemporary Romance
Type: Kindle/Paperback


Book Blurb:

Brodie Hayes is a former rodeo star, now a rancher—a cowboy, through and through. But when he finds out some shocking news about the circumstances of his birth, he begins to question his identity. Luckily, private investigator Alexandra Donovan is there to help him find the truth about who he is. Along the way, he discovers that even a man who thought he'd be alone for the rest of his life can fall in love. For Brodie, love was something you did once—and for always. But is Alex the type of woman who can take on a stubborn man like him? Because there's one thing about him that will never change, no matter what they find out about his past—once a cowboy, always a cowboy.

Book Excerpt:

Brodie woke up at dawn and stared down at the woman in his arms. Her head rested below his chin, her hand lay on his chest. She slept peacefully, making an occasional deep breathing sound. That was probably as close to snoring as she would ever get.

It felt so right to have her in his arms. He’d never needed anyone in his life, but last night he’d needed her. It wasn’t sexual, either. Not that he didn’t want her. Last night was about something entirely different. It was about comfort, caring and mental nourishment so he could face another day. Holding on to Alex gave him that strength.

The pretty P.I. was getting to him and he didn’t mind. Even though she worked for the Braxtons, he trusted her.

She stirred and sat up, brushing hair out of her eyes. “Good morning,” she whispered.

He felt a catch in his gut at her sleep-filled voice. Her soft brown eyes were languid, sensuous, and he had a feeling she’d look like this after making love. After…

Rising to a sitting position, he flexed his shoulders. “Morning.”

She sniffed the air. “I don’t smell coffee. After spending the night on this sofa, I expected coffee to be brought to me.” Her eyes twinkled.

“Yes, ma’am.” He rose to his feet and headed for the kitchen. She had a knack for putting a smile on his face. When the first cup dripped out, he took it to her.

“Wonderful.” She curled up in the corner of the sofa. “Yikes!”

“What?” He turned from getting himself a cup.

“This is black.” She made a face and hurried after him to the kitchen.

“Oh. I forgot to ask. I’m not used to getting coffee for a woman.”

“Really?” She put milk and sugar in her cup and stirred.

“Yes, really.”

She leaned against the cabinet, sipping her coffee. “So I’m your first?”

He grinned. “So to speak.”

“Cowboy, that is so hard to believe.”

“Well, you see, I’m used to having a woman bring me coffee.”

“Now that I believe.” She smiled, bringing sunshine into the room.

He walked over and tucked her hair behind her ear, loving the easy banter between them. It’s what he needed this morning. He needed her. “I’ll bring you coffee any day of the week.”

Dialogue Highlight:

BRODIE WOKE UP feeling relaxed for the first time in weeks. He pulled Alex closer, just savoring this moment with her. She’d saved him and now he was ready to face the future—whatever that might be.

Alex stirred and raised her head. “Morning, cowboy.” She looked just like he knew she would, her eyes dark and dreamy.

“Morning,” he replied, grinning.

She reached up and kissed his dimple, then her lips met his.

“Mmm.” He kissed her deeply. “This is a nice way to wake up.”

She slid her leg across his hip and straddled him.

“This is even better. Who knew the lady P.I. was cool on the outside, but wild in bed.”

She pushed back her hair with both hands. “Was I wild?”

“You were magnificent.”

She frowned. “I’m not usually.”

“Usually?” He lifted an eyebrow. “Have there been many usuallys?”

She looked down at him, her eyes bright. “I can count them on one hand minus a couple of fingers.” She inched a finger down his chest. “How about you, cowboy?”

“I don’t have enough fingers,” he replied and couldn’t stop the grin that spread across his face.

“I thought so. I mean a man who keeps condoms in his nightstand, well…” She let out a shriek as he rolled her onto her back.

But you will be my last, he thought as his mouth covered hers and they forgot everything but this moment and each other.


It made me cry … dumb book! So Brody is a huge star in the world of rodeo. Now retired and running his ranch, he has been living a life in solitude. Sure, he’s got his few close friends and a bit of family (his mother and aunt), but for the most part he is alone. Just how he likes it. Love is a myth so why subject himself to the game? It is much easier to wash his hands of it all. Or at least that idea sounded nice until Alex walked into his life and turned everything upside down. Brody is not sure of much, but he always knew who he was. Not anymore.

Alex works as a P.I. with her father, Buck. She knows how to get the job done no matter how hard the case may be. She throws herself into her work and leaves little time for anything else, much less time to explore relationships. But when Alex takes a case involving a stolen baby - a baby who just might be rodeo star Brody Hayes, things become personal. Drawn to him before ever meeting him, Alex knows she has to find the truth within this case, even if it causes Brody pain … even if, ultimately, she loses her chance with him.

Brody remains reluctant, but grudgingly allows Alex to take further steps into the investigation a little at a time. When it comes to light that he is not who he always thought he was, he struggles to identify with who he really is AND who he should be now that he knows he was living a lie. And while Brody is off searching for answers to tough questions, Alex herself gets her world toppled. She’s tough and she has been helping Brody so she will come to terms with her changes. But Brody is gone and she has no idea if he will ever return.

Ms. Warren sure pulled at my heartstrings with this story. I felt so sorry for Brody throughout the book. How does a tough rodeo cowboy come to grips with life-altering changes without losing himself? And what if losing himself is exactly what is happening? Not to mention, he is starting to alter his outlook on being alone for the rest of his life, but he doesn’t feel like he has the right to pull Alex down with him. He has a lot to deal with and I felt like his behavior and actions were consistent with his character. I loved the pairing of Brody and Alex. She is exactly the balm he needs to heal his wounds. He just doesn’t quite realize it yet. Had any less of a woman been paired with Brody, the story would not have worked.

Terrific additions to this story are the supporting characters. Quite a few of them exist to make the story work, but rather than hinder (as can be a common downfall to over populating a story), they enhance. Buck, Alex’s father is a tough old dog who chooses to boss around rather than show any type of weakness. Alex, his only child, is that weakness, but you’d never guess it. Naddy, Alex’s grandmother is a hoot. She is young at heart and acts it in every way possible, oftentimes switching roles with Alex: Alex playing adult to Naddy’s childishness. But it’s a fun kind of childishness that makes you laugh out loud at her antics. The Braxton’s, who claim their son was stolen from the hospital at only two days old, add a bit of heartache with their story, their loss, and their drive to find the truth behind their missing child. Claudia, Brody’s mother who – well, I can’t say much about her without spoiling a lot, so let’s just say that she reasons for her actions, although I never felt sorry for her despite knowing her motivations. Cleo, Brody’s aunt, who was probably more of a mother to Brody than Claudia ever was, is Brody’s only true supportive family member. Colter and Tripp are Brody’s best friends, who have interesting stories of their own. Quite a few characters to keep straight, yes? Trust me, they all flow together with purpose. The reader will not have difficulty keeping them all straight. The epilogue is what killed me. You know how you have those moments where everything seems right and your heart is full? Well, I saw that for Brody and Alex at the end and it made me happy. Tear inducing happy. Not the sobby kind, but the lip was quivering and the throat was constricted. You know the kind. I was actually a bit surprised by my reaction given the expected events throughout the story, but touch me it did.

Overall, the book is predictable. But it is also sweet. Maybe some prefer to have some deep moment of inspiration from the books they read. For me, I like a mixture. And sometimes a quick read with a fairly simple plotline, and a charming, romantic story is just the ticket. PLUS, it is a free read so you aren’t losing anything. Enjoy a story about finding love in the face of difficult circumstances, discover a new author (or enjoy a known author), and get it for free? You can’t go wrong.

And, I found myself intrigued by the bits of information given regarding Colter and Tripp’s stories. So I searched and … TA-DA! I found Colter’s story called The Christmas Cradle. I also found Tripp’s story entitled The Cowboy’s Return. For those of you who are sticklers for reading in order, you should read The Christmas Cradle, The Cowboy’s Return, then Once A Cowboy. And for those who love Texas-themed romance, Ms. Warren has a whole slew of western romance novels to choose from. Check them out here:

(Digital copy purchased for personal library.)

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