We’re heading to the country, folks, as we dive into one of this summer’s upcoming romances: Crista McHugh’s A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.
McHugh’s novel throws us into the upper-class and highly accommodated world of Kensington “Kensi” Pope, a spoiled rich girl from New York with personal expectations to excel as a dressage rider. While her talents and ambitions in the equestrian world are undoubtable, Kensi’s personality and materialistic tendencies leave much to be desired about her character. However, when she is forced to reside in rural Wyoming with her extended family for the summer after a party gone wrong, Kensi’s outlook at life, and at herself, is overturned.
This becomes especially true when she becomes captivated by Javier Cruz, a ranch hand at her family’s farm, whose initial reaction to Kensi is to attempt to dismiss her and her materialistic lifestyle in favor of more urgent matters within his own life, though it’s evident that he is unable to deny his own growing attraction and affection towards her. As Kensi becomes more accustomed to a life away from luxury and begins doing things for herself, she finds herself withdrawing from her high-class yet empty existence in New York in favor of the hard-working and fulfilling life of her family’s Wyoming ranch. A complete one-eighty from what she is used to, Kensi eventually begins to yearn for the sense of family, beauty, and love that the ranch in Wyoming provides her, and starts to dread rather than anticipate her eventual return to New York.
I found A Cowboy’s Sweetheart to be a very quick read, but no less engaging. While she initially starts off as an antagonistic character that I just could not see myself liking, I found myself rooting for Kensi; her character development from a bratty child to generous caretaker for her family and Javier really drew me in, and had me sympathetic for her upbringing and depressingly lonely background, as rich as it was in other aspects. I also really appreciated the study of Javier and the turmoil he faces in keeping his emotions in check around Kensi, whether it was rage toward her conceited demeanor or increasing tenderness in light of gained insight into her personality, and how this balanced with other issues taking hold on his life. McHugh’s secondary characters – Uncle Bobby, Aunt Tammy, Sierra, Jo – were also a welcome inclusion of diverse characters and personalities, and it was easy to fall for them as the novel progressed.
The only thing I was truly disappointed by was the fact that this was the first novel in a series to be continued by McHugh, which is entitled Rodeo Academy. I felt that this novel worked well as a stand-alone, especially if McHugh had dedicated a few more pages or chapters to several unanswered questions about Kensi, Javier, and their combined stories. This novel, by no means, tells a complete story, but the cliff-hangers that McHugh ends the novel with work well to enthrall the reader into wanting the next book. Yet, depending on the story McHugh has left to tell in the Rodeo Academy series, A Cowboy’s Sweetheart could have been concluded had McHugh opted to include the resolutions necessary for the conflicts still present by novel’s end.
A Cowboy’s Sweetheart is a tale that blends two perspectives, the spoiled city-girl and the angry country boy, in a heart-warming story that not only leads to love, but new-found appreciation and respect for the other side. I’m eager to discover what McHugh has planned next for her series.
A Cowboy’s Sweetheart by Crista McHugh is now available.