Monday, December 26, 2011

The Last Cowboy, by Lindsay McKenna

Rating:  B, warm
Slade and Griff McPherson’s parents are killed by a  neighboring rancher, Red Downing, when the boys were only 6 years old.  Slade stays on the ranch to be raised by one uncle, while Griff is sent to another uncle on the east coast.  Griff, a Wall Street banker has lost his job due to the current recession.  Slade works 14 hour days on his small ranch, trying to stay one step ahead of the mortgage.  

Slade is the current number one endurance horse racer in the country, and runs a school on his ranch to train others for competitions.  Local ER physician Jordana Lawton seeks Slade out to train her and her mare, as she wants to enter level 1 competition.  Due to being burned by his first wife, Slade is not fond of female students.  In fact, he has none but the good doctor gets under his skin and he takes her on as a student.   

Jordana proves to be a better rider than Slade anticipated.  He also starts to fall for her, and it’s evident she returns those feelings.  Jordana has a nasty run in with Slade’s neighbor and riding competitor Curt Downing, son of the man who killed Slade’s parents while driving drunk, at the feed store.  Slade bristles when he finds out about this, warning Jordana that Curt is a nasty person, and an even nastier competitive rider, pulling illegal stunts during races in order to win. 

Slade’s prize bull attacks and goudges him in the thigh, tearing open his main artery.  Slade is out of the upcoming competition due to the seriousness of his injuries. Jordana’s mare is also injured, so she convinces Slade to let her ride his stallion Thor in the upcoming endurance race.   Griff is out of a job, and shows up at the ranch since he is still a part owner.  However, he knows absolutely nothing about running a ranch.  He interferes with a bid Slade has in for some horses, and is accused of bribery, so Slade becomes disgusted with him and throws him off the ranch.  The happenings with Griff paint a pretty true picture of the current recession in our world today. To make things worse, Downing is constant thorn in Slades side, forever causing financial and personal problems for him.  

Jordana’s dream comes true, and Slade lets her ride Thor in the big race.  She wants desperately to win the purse to help Slade with his financial woes.  Jordana and Slade provide many pages of sexual tension throughout the book, so all along you are hoping that these two, especially Slade, can set aside his grudges and anger to make this budding relationship work. 

Overall, a very lighthearted story, and the author is very well versed in the horse world, including the different breeds.  Very interesting, plus I learned a lot about horses! I am looking forward to Grifff’s book.  It should be good, watching him trying to dig his way out of the hole he is in. 

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