Cowboy Healing has some good narrative elements to it. The basic storyline is good. The characters with the children are very well written. And while it took me a hot minute to connect with a cowboy whose sole aim for working for a overwhelmed widowed parent is to ingratiate himself into his good graces in order to get his family off the ranch, well, yeah. I bet I’m not the only one.
Caleb , a well crafted character, starts off as a unlikable cowboy, who’s aiming to take back his family’s ranch that was sold out from him, partly out of his negligence, partly because of a agent’s criminality.
Patrick, a orthopedic surgeon, is a widower and father of two children. He’s a bit obsessive about his practice and out of his comfort zone on the ranch, which was his husband’s dream.
I liked Patrick but, again, major events occur that should propel him towards more introspection and character growth. That really doesn’t happen. Instead, it’s Caleb asking for change, even short term. It’s Patrick’s character that’s seems to have a unformed foundation, as though the author isn’t as sure of this character as they are of the cowboy.
Patrick complains of the “lost years” due to his profession. Yet is oblivious of his drive and it’s effects upon his family. Even when Caleb asks for help, it’s a ranch hand , not a orthopedic assistant which is intended.
Is the author unaware of the character’s issues that she’s writing into the story and relationship?
That part of his character, added to the elements below just keeps me from totally investing in the story, the future for the family, and the relationship.
1. Editing issues. See example below:
““That’ll be up to them. We’ll see.” The doc didn’t seem too convinced on that front. “Maggie is more interested than Caleb.”
That should be Mason. Not Caleb. A easy edit/error catch. Especially given the very next sentence below.
“Caleb bit back a grin. Yeah, he might be a bit scary if they were city kids.”
2. Second larger issue: The disappearing dogs. Four to be exact.
“He agreed, although the dogs were becoming off-leash beasts now that there were only two. “I would be fine with that, then.””
And with that small, throwaway line, the author disposed late in the book of a fairly significant story element. That of 4 husky puppies that were hugely loved and important to Mason, son of Patrick. The fact that Mason loved, trained, named,and spent most of his hours with these 6 dogs , (now only 2 as 4 have vanished into thin air with no explanation) during the story . The author made them a integral family element only to carelessly discard them in this way towards the end of the book. Where’s Ginger? All the rest? Honestly, it’s is something I can’t understand.
It changes a deeply held belief about Mason’s character and promises made ( he built structures, spent hours on researching sleds, training) only for the author to trash this part of the story for no discernible purpose. All Tortuga had to do, basically, was not mention them other than to say dogs versus the individual husky names.
Why eliminate a beloved book aspect and something we deeply associated with not only Mason, but the family as a whole?
This is where a great editor would have stepped in and challenged these decisions. As well as corrected the easy editing mistakes made along the lines I pointed out earlier.
Most writers, well people in general are aware of the unwritten rule . Don’t kill off the animal characters in films/books, etc. Because your audience/readers will take note. And be very unhappy.
Issues like these make a book come off as unpolished ,their odd narrative choices throwing a reader out of the storyline, never to recover.
I enjoy B.A. Tortuga as an author but the books lately have more a feeling of being piecemealed together instead of one that’s been finely tuned, beautifully edited with an eye towards hard decisions and fine details.
That’s a shame because she’s got one of the best ear for location, colloquialisms, and regional variations as far as culture when talking about Texas and certain parts of that country that I know of. From the rodeo to the raw dry landscape of New Mexico, when she’s in her element, there’s no one finer.
That’s the reason I’ll keep reading in hopes of finding that complete book again.
As for Cowboy Healing, maybe the things that bother me aren’t deciding factors for you. In which case, I’m sure you will be fine with it. It’s the first in a new series.
Patrick Kelly needs some help. His husband passed away a while ago, and now he has a thriving medical practice, two busy kids, and one ranch outside Aspen, Colorado that he’s not really sure how to run. Patrick doesn’t want to give up on any part of his life, but he knows he can’t do it all alone, so he turns to a service to hire a cowboy to help run the ranch and free up some of his time.
Caleb Warren wants his family ranch back. So he hires on to work as the foreman there through the Cowboy Wanted service, just waiting for the fancy doctor who owns the place to get tired of roughing it and sell out. The problem is, Patrick’s kids love the country life, Patrick is a good man, and Caleb can’t quite get past the guilt he feels about being on the road with the rodeo when his family had some real troubles to deal with.
The two of them find more common ground than they expect, and between everything from animals to parent teacher meetings, Caleb lends and hand and Patrick learns to lean on Caleb for help. Can the two of them give up the past and embrace the future together?