Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pink Heart Picks: The Cowboy's Sweetheart by Brenda Minton

It's Pink Heart Picks Book Club time again and August's selection was from the Love Inspired line - The Cowboy's Sweetheart by Brenda Minton.

When I was trolling the eharlequin store for the month's pick, this book stood out for a few reasons.  One, I hadn't yet spotlighted anything from Steeple Hill. Two, I loved the cover, being partial to westerns for some reason. :-) And three, I was sold on the blurb. Here's what it says:

Cowgirl Andie Forester let an unexpected kiss turn into something more with cowboy Ryder Johnson. He's her best friend—and the man she's secretly loved forever. But when Andie discovers she's carrying his child, she turns to her newfound faith instead of the friendship now lost to her. Until Ryder comes blaring into Dawson, Oklahoma, proposing marriage—for the right and wrong reasons. Andie longs to say yes. But commitment-shy Ryder will have to say three little words first. And mean them from his cowboy's heart.

Now, I don't read widely across Steeple Hill but the idea that this book was going to deal with an unplanned pregnancy from a one night mistake...I HAD to know how the author would handle it within the parameters of an inspirational romance.  Those of you who read Love Inspired lines regularly - do unplanned pregnancies feature a lot? Even if they do, I hadn't come across it before and I knew I wanted to read it.

It's a sweet story, at times repetitive in its sentiments but that's because Ryder Just. Doesn't. Get. It as his brother Wyatt likes to point out.  And Andie is a spunky, likeable heroine, independent and a little gunshy with good reason. It was a really enjoyable read and I do wonder what's going to happen to Wyatt in his own story.  Also, in the Steeple Hill books I've read I've noticed there is a wide variety of what I call "Faith Factor".  This one was pretty light, while others have turned me off a bit by being preachy.  The integration of faith in this book is seamless and effortless...accepting prayer, accepting things on faith. If you want to introduce someone to what is great about inspirational romance without beating them over the head with "churchiness" - this is a good example.  It all depends on what the individual reader prefers.

That being said - I wanted to know some things.  I wish the author had dug a little deeper into things like...what had Ryder's father done that was so bad?  It is alluded to but never really brought out in the light. Also there is a bit about Andie and her mother and especially considering a slight twist towards the end, I would have liked to see Andie's reaction to that in relation to her relationship with her mother brought out more.  I think that sort of bleeding on the page would have taken me from a really enjoyable read to a fantastic heart-rending story.  The ingredients were there.

Either way, Andie and Ryder are lovely characters who definitely deserved their happy ending! And while this book is part of a series, it has no trouble standing alone.

Thanks Brenda for sharing Ryder and Andie's story!

And please - let me know in the comments if you've read this book or any of Brenda's, or we can even open up a discussion about Steeple Hill books!  I'm open to recommendations.  :-)  I actually wish I'd bought this in print rather than e-book so I could pass it on to my step-dad, who reads a fair amount of inspirational and sweet romance. I may end up getting a print copy to stick in my next parcel headed his way.

Next month's pick: A look at the Intrigue line with the latest from Paula Graves: Bachelor Sheriff! We'll be coming back here on September 28 to chat!  In the meantime, take a peek at the blurb to whet your appetite:
A man of duty and justice, Sheriff Aaron Cooper can't foresee trading his bachelor ways for love. So when he offers an innocent Melissa Draper protection, he doesn't realize what he's signed up for. His cop instincts urge him to stop at nothing to keep the beautiful, passionate woman safe. But the fact that she's suddenly become a target makes him wonder just what she's hiding—from him and from the investigation. Slowly, as Melissa opens up and reveals the horrors of her violent past, Aaron's heart races with the need to make her forget. Even if that means keeping her with him, away from danger... night after night....

Donna's next book goes on sale on the Mills and Boon site September 1.  Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle is a Mills and Boon October Cherish release, paired up with Barbara Hannay's latest title.


  1. Ryder and Andie were a sweet couple, but I never really felt I understood how they had got together a couple of months ago, thus creating the baby that drove the plot. There were one or two flashbacks, but never enough to convince me of the strong emotions that must have been swirling round them when they did.
    I thought Andie's grandmother was a great character! Her mother's ambivalence over the 'rights/influence' she might have over a grown-up daughter was well handled. Was there a previous book about Andie's sister? I felt when reading it I was missing something, but I do that all thetime. I've lost count of the books I've read that are a sequel and - EVEN THOUGH I READ THE FIRST BOOK - I can't remember a dang thing about it!
    My biggest surprise was when I got the book in my hands. For some mad reason I had thought the Love Inspired line was published in the larger trade paperpack size, so it was a shock to find it the same size as other HMB books (and why wouldn't it be?..)
    I'm enjoying this look at the different genres, and am busy trying to work out what the next categories will be. Only three after September, and one must be an Historical surely..?

  2. One IS a historical, so look for the announcement. :-) And as there are more lines than months in a year, the ones that didn't get covered this year will during the next.

    I've really enjoyed reading across the lines, I have to admit.

  3. I could not wait for this book because, as you said, unplanned pregnancies and inspirational romance don't normally go together. There are some books out there which deal with a single pregnant woman appearing and a guy falling for her but few deal with the couple from "start to finish".

    There was a previous book about Andie's sister that might have given readers a bit more background.

    Brenda has never been a preachy writer which is yet another reason that I enjoy her stories which I have read from the beginning. I think the Love Inspired line as a whole is more toned down than other inspirationals and that for me is a great selling point.

    I would like to add though that there are plenty of LIs which are great faith stories with more overt scriptures and faith issues which are "inspirational" rather than preachy.

    Peace, Julie

  4. Julie - good to know. I have read some of Carolyne Aarsen's and Linda Ford's and enjoy both - maybe more so because they are friends and I can see their personalities in their stories. There really have only been a few that I've read that have been too preachy, but I know that perhaps holds people back from reading them - and missing out on some great stories. "Inspirational" is exactly how it should be, IMO.

    I've got a couple more Steeple HIll books on my TBR, and from authors I am not familiar with, so I'm looking forward to reading and seeing what I think. :-)

  5. Kaelee says:

    Oops! I'm only half way through this book. Brenda Minton was one of the first Love Inspired authors I read. I must admit I couldn't pass up the cover of His Little Cowgirl which is the first of Brenda's books set in Dawson, Oklahoma. His Cowboy's Sweetheart is the sixth book set here. I've just finished reading books four and five in the COWBOY series. Book four is Jenna’s Cowboy Hero (Dec 2009), the story of Adam Mackenzie and Jenna Cameron who run the kid's camp. Book five is The Cowboy's Courtship (March 2010) and is the story of Andie Forester twin sister Alyson. I probably know more of the Andie's background because I read this book first.

    Donna I agree with you that Brenda's writing is inspirational without being overly preachy. I'm missing book two of the books set in Dawson but of the four and a half books I've read I have really enjoyed them all. I'm looking forward to Wyatt's story and we will probably find out more about his and Ryder’s father then. According to Brenda's website there are more stories to come about the Cooper family (Andie and Ryder went to the Cooper place to Rodeo)

    Because of Brenda's soft approach to the inspiration in her first books I read I have read a few other Love Inspired books as well. I do like Caroline Aarsen's books. I have read a few Love Inspired Suspense books and enjoyed them also. I must admit I have read a few that I have found overly loaded with religion and that detracted from my enjoyment of the books but Brenda Minton ‘s Cowboy books are auto-buys for me

  6. Kaelee says:

    Okay I just finished the book and it had a really satisfying ending. I don't know if it was explained in the book or I just knew it from the previous book. Caroline, Andie's and Alyson's mother took Alyson who was a genius at playing the piano and left Andy behind. This happened when they were 3. Caroline remarried the promoter of Alyson concerts and had at least one daughter with him. As Carolyn never mentioned anyone to Alyson, Alyson gradually forgot about her twin and her father and grandmother. Both girls suffered from dyslexia and Andie who knew about her sister and mother thought her mother took the perfect child and left the imperfect one behind. This gave Andie a deep seated inferiority complex. In book five, Alyson finds her birth certificate and other information after her half sister elopes with Alyson’s finance. That is the reason that Alyson shows up in Dawson trying to find her grandmother.

    This is such a great series.

  7. Oooh, are we doing this next year too? Goody!

  8. Kaelee - thanks for explaining! That helps a lot. So while it stands alone okay, a lot can be gained by reading the rest of the series. :-)

    And Alison - that's the plan, anyway. I've really enjoyed doing the book club!