This was a book I didn’t want to finish. A romantic adventure set in the American wild west in 1867, in which the dignity and etiquette of an English lady is contrasted dramatically with the frank, masculine power of a half-breed cowboy. But this is an oversimplification. Annie Haddon is no simpering socialite. Tolerated and put upon by her harsh Aunt Bea and treated abominably by her spoilt cousin Charlotte, she is the poor spinster expected to respond to all their whims, even when crammed into a stifling, hot stage-coach.
But everything changes when Annie finds herself trapped under the crashed coach, abandoned by her family. Enter her saviour, Colt McCall, half Sioux, half Irish, who hates English women. The dialogue-driven plot reveals much about Annie’s sad life and also her determination, but McCall keeps most of his secrets. At times these two disparate characters argue bitterly, as Annie tries to keep her respectable clothes and behaviour, but they find they have more in common than they expected.
The witty conversation and obvious blossoming attraction between the two, take place against the prejudice and arrogance of cavalry officers, English visitors and land-grabbers. Annie struggles to stand up for herself, unaware that she is being manipulated. Can she trust Colt when another more attractive woman is close to him? This is a recipe for misunderstanding and tragedy, but Annie has native magic on her side.
There is great humour in the story, each chapter beginning with a delightful quote from “The Gentlewoman’s Guide to Good Travel,” but there is also a moral to the tale which I found in a native American proverb.
“Listen to the wind, it talks.
Listen to the silence, it speaks.
Listen to your heart, it knows.”
I do urge you to read this unusual love story.
An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy can be purchased on Amazon UK
June Kearns lives in Leicestershire with her family, and writes in a warm corner next to the airing cupboard, a bit like a mouse’s nest.
When she left teaching, June won a national magazine competition for the first chapter of an historical novel. After many, many more hours watching cowboy heroes bring order west of the Pecos, this became her first novel, An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy.
Her next book The 20’s Girl, was inspired by the fabulous style and fashion of the 1920s, and that time in England after the Great War, of crumbling country houses and very few marriageable men.
June is now writing another period romantic comedy set in London in the 1960s.