Toughest Cowboy in Texas by Carolyn Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Spark of an Old Flame
Last time Lila Harris was in Happy, Texas, she was actively earning her reputation as the resident wild child. Now, a little older and wiser, she's back to run her mother's café for the summer. Except something about this town has her itching to get a little reckless and rowdy, especially when she sees her old partner-in-crime, Brody Dawson. Their chemistry is just as hot as ever. But he's still the town's golden boy-and she's still the wrong kind of girl.
Brody hasn't had much time lately for anything other than ranching. Running the biggest spread in the county and taking care of his family more than keeps him busy. All that responsibility has him longing for the carefree days of high school and Lila. She may have grown up, but he still sees that spark of mischief in her eyes. Now he's dreaming about late-night skinny dipping and wondering how he can possibly resist the one woman he can never forget...
I said in the last review I did of Carolyn Brown's that I loved all of her books and that's the truth!! I loved Brody and Lila. I thought Lila had spunk and was just smart as a whip. I fell so in love with Brody but he made a heck of a mistake when he was a kid but what do you expect? He was a kid and kid's make mistakes.
Lila comes back to Happy...yep that's the name of the town lol! She comes back to Happy, Texas to put her mother's diner on the market and then get the heck out of dodge. Who does she run into but good ole Brody, looking better than he ever did. A lot has changed for Brody - all the plans he had before Lila took off changed all in the same summer. His dad and his grandfather both died that same summer. You find that out pretty early on in the story and it's not a secret or spoiler. So, instead of him going away for college - he stayed home and took care of the ranch and sends his brother to college instead. He never left Happy and he never fell out of love with Lila. She's his one regret. Everyone in this book feels as if Brody treated Lila like he was better than her. I feel like he even feels like he treated her that way but I didn't see any of those parts. He snuck out of the house after they made love but who wants to get caught by your girlfriend's mother? It says that he had her as his "secret girlfriend" but he always hung out with her and Jace. No one else. That to me shouts girlfriend unless he's dating his brother and that's frowned upon except in hill country. So, he took another girl to prom? It never stated whether or not she wanted to go. I had a hard time with that and kind of felt that Brody got the blame stick a lot. Lila wasn't all "poor me." She needed to buck up buttercup.
Brody does everything in this book to show her he loves her but is it enough? He asks her to the family reunion, he asks her to the Fourth of July party they're having. That's definitely being seen in public together. Lila is one of those characters who's been hurt. Even though she grew up with Brody and his brother Jace, they were from one side of the tracks and she was from the other. That didn't make a difference though because they were all best friends. To Brody's grandmother and mother, Lila is the "wild child" and not good enough for Brody and to Lila's mother, Brody is only going to hurt her again. So, she's going to head him off at the pass and not give him a chance to hurt her again.
The characters I really loved in this book were Brody's sister, Kasey and her 3 kids. They totally stole the whole book. I'm praying and hoping they have their own and I'm pretty sure they will. That's what this setup was for. Jace will get his own book and so will Kasey. Her story though was just heartbreaking and so real to life. Her children were a hoot and when they told Brody he stunk but they wanted to grow up to stink just like him and be a cowboy...OMG, I about rolled out of the recliner!! It was classic kids! I enjoy the way Carolyn writes children and animals because you know that she has them and has been around them. She knows the way they behave and interacts with others. I love her and I'm going to stalk her page for her next book - no lie.
What I didn't like about this book - Valerie. I didn't like Brody's mom. I wasn't going to like her. She wasn't going to be redeemed in my eyes even after a little page of redemption. It wasn't going to happen. I still don't like her. As a matter of fact, if I saw her right now - I'd force feed her pie until she'd puke because us Southern gals don't do things that will make us look bad. We say "bless their hearts" instead of "you wanker" because it's unseemly. I had to also work really hard to like Grandma Hope but after hearing her story, I understood her. Daisy, Lila's mother...that woman makes my teeth rattle. Her and Valerie together were like 2 children fighting over the same toy...so you fought over the same man 40 years ago!! Get over it! Said man has been dead for 10 years - get over it. She's not going to dig him up Valerie and put him on her mantle. I've said my piece, I'm good.
Overall, I really had a good time in Happy Texas. I escape away when I'm reading books and for a little while, I'm actually there. If you want to read the rest of the books that interweave into this one, pick up The Lucky Penny Ranch Series. You'll find that the characters in those, are in these as well. The language in these books are minimal, the sex isn't too much, the plot is awesome. At some points, I did find that Lila kept saying the same thing over and over but we do that in real life. We rehash what already has been said because we can't let go of the past so that was real to life to me. Pick this up on a weekend, so that you don't have to put it down during the week!!
I was given a copy of this ARC from the publisher on NetGalley for an honest review. All of the above comments are my express opinions and no one else's.
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