"Can a cowboy "horse whisper" tame a wild city girl before he loses his mind?"
Reviewed by Mandy Burns
Posted August 16, 2010
Charlie Banks needs to finish her psyche degree, but she is
not prepared for the middle-of-nowhere ranch in Wyoming
where Charlie's boss is sending her. She is supposed to
observe and report on a real cowboy and his "horse
whisperer" techniques. Being a member of PETA, a vegetarian
and from New Jersey, Charlie is not sure how this situation
is going to help her future. The trip across country goes
fairly well, until her car breaks down near her
destination, forcing her to rely on the cowboy, Nate
Shawcross, to ride to her rescue. Right from the start, the
quiet, brooding cowboy gets on Charlie's nerves, especially
when she finds out the clinic seminars she is suppose to
attend are a complete surprise to him.
Nate Shawcross' humor lately is non-existent, but the
outrageous city girl with her spiky hair, impossible boots
and ridiculous car is enough to bring a smile to his lips.
That is until she explains that she is in his neck of the
woods to attend a clinic where he, Nate Shawcross, is to
hold seminars on how he works with his horses. Of course,
this is news to him, which is confusing, unless one
concludes his girlfriend leaving him coincides with the
deposit she must have received before taking off to Denver.
He has absolutely no idea what to do next except to head
back to the ranch with his spitfire out-of-town guest and
take care of his horse. Unfortunately, his world continues
to spin out of control as three more guests arrive for his
seminars, all the while his interest in the city girl takes
a new turn.
ONE FINE COWBOY is a refreshing and fun story from the
first page to the last. Beautifully done!
Nate Shawcross is perfectly content to spend his days
training wild horses. So when a beautiful greenhorn
unexpectedly shows up for a seminar from the famous â€śHorse
Whispererâ€ť of Wyoming, all he wants to do is send her
Graduate student Charlie Banks came to the ranch to learn
about interspecies communication, but when she meets the
ruggedly handsome cowboy, she starts to fantasize about
another connection entirely.
Nate needs to stay focused if heâ€™s going to save his ranch
from foreclosure, but he canâ€™t help being distracted by the
brainy and breathtakingly sexy Charlie. Could it be that
after all this time heâ€™s finally found the one woman who
can tame his wild heart?
The cowboy boot was the most pathetic piece of footwear
Charlie had ever seen. Upended on a fencepost, it was dried
out and sun-baked into dog-bone quality rawhide. She
glanced down at the directions in the dude ranch brochure.
After pavement ends, go 1.6 miles and turn right.
Boot on fencepost points toward ranch.
The bootâ€™s drooping toe pointed straight down toward the
ground. Evidently, Latigo Ranch was located somewhere in
the vicinity of hell.
No surprise there.
Still, the boot was a welcome sight, signaling the last
leg of the weird Western treasure hunt laid out in the
brochure, and putting Charlie one step closer to getting
done with this cowboy nonsense and going home to New Jersey
where she belonged. Back to New Brunswick, with its crowded
streets and endless pavement; its nonstop soundtrack of
whining sirens; its Grease Trucks and commuter buses. Back
to the smog-smudged brick of New Jersey and the slightly
metallic, smoky scent of home.
Wyoming, on the other hand, smelled disturbingly
organic, like sagebrush and cowflops, and offered nothing
but endless expanses of featureless prairie with a few
twisted pines wringing a scant living out of the rocky
ground. If this was home on the range, the deer and the
antelope were evidently taking the summer off. She hadnâ€™t
seen so much as a prairie dog at play since sheâ€™d crossed
the Nebraska border.
Cranking the steering wheel to the right, Charlie let
her back end spin up a plume of dust, then winced as the
Celica jerked to a halt. Hauling on the emergency break and
flinging open the door, she stomped around to the front of
the car to watch the right front tire hiss out its life in
a deep, jagged pothole.
She pulled in a long breath and let it out slow. She
could handle this.
Reaching below the dash, she popped the hood latch, then
hauled the jack out from under the front seat. Setting it
just behind the rapidly expiring tire, she set the handle
and started cranking, ignoring the itch that prickled
between her shoulder blades as the sun leached sweat from
her skin. The car rose, then rose some more. Then it
shifted sideways, groaned like a tipping cow, and slammed
back onto the ground, its wounded tire splayed at a
hideously unnatural angle.
This was no ordinary flat tire.
Charlie knelt in the dust, staring at the crippled car.
What now? She was in the middle of nowhere, with a
screwdriver, a roll of duct tape, and a 1978 Celica
hatchback that looked as if euthanasia would be the only
She pressed the heels of her hands into her eye sockets
to push back the tears. She wasnâ€™t scared. She really
wasnâ€™t. That couldnâ€™t be her heart pounding. Couldnâ€™t be.
It wasâ€¦it wasâ€¦
Hoofbeats, drumming the road behind her. She turned to
see a Stetson-topped silhouette approaching, dark against
the setting sun. Lurching to her feet, she fell back
against the car as a horse and rider skidded to a stop six
feet away, gravel pinging off the carâ€™s rear bumper.
The sun kept the horsemanâ€™s features in shadow, but
Charlie could see he was long-boned and rangy, with pale
eyes glimmering under a battered grey hat. She could almost
hear the eerie whistle of a spaghetti Western soundtrack
emanating from the rocky landscape behind him. Sheâ€™d have
been scared except one corner of his thin lips kept
twitching, threatening to break into a smile as he looked
her up and down.
It had to be her outfit. Saddle Up Western Wear called
it "Dude Couture," but she was starting to think "Dude
Torture" would be more appropriate. The boots were so high-
heeled and pointy-toed she could barely drive in them, let
alone walk, and she was tempted to follow local tradition
and upend them on a fencepost for buzzard bait. Then there
was the elaborately fringed jacket and the look-at-me-Iâ€™m-a-
cowgirl shirt with its oversized silver buttons. She cursed
the perky Saddle Up salesgirl for the fourteenth time that
day and straightened up, squaring her shoulders.
"Whoa," the rider said, shifting his weight as the horse
danced in place. "Easy there, Honey."
"Iâ€™m not your honey." She tossed her head and her dark
hair flared up like a firecracker, then settled back into
its customary spiky shag. The horse pranced backward a few
steps, then stilled, twitching with restless energy.
"I know. Easy, Honey," the rider repeated, patting the
horseâ€™s neck. "Tupelo Honey. Thatâ€™s her name," he
"Oh." Charlie looked up at the animalâ€™s rolling eyes and
flaring nostrils and blushed for the first time in fifteen
years. "I thought you meant me."
"Nope. The horse. So you might want to calm down. Youâ€™re
making her nervous, and sheâ€™s liable to toss me again."
Honey pitched her head up, prancing nervously in place as
he eased back on the reins. "Itâ€™s her first time."
"Her first time," Charlie repeated blankly.
"First time under saddle," he said. "Doing just fine,
too." He bent down to fondle the horseâ€™s mane. "Doing just
dandy," he crooned softly.
Charlie watched him rotate his fingers in tiny circles,
rubbing the horseâ€™s copper-colored pelt. Honeyâ€™s long-
lashed eyes drifted shut as she heaved a hard sigh and
loosened her muscles, cocking one hind leg.
"Niiiice," the rider purred. Charlie felt like sheâ€™d
interrupted an intimate encounter.
"Sorry." Dammit, she was blushing again. "Iâ€™m trying to
get to Latigo Ranch. My car broke down." She gestured
toward the crippled Celica.
"Latigo? Youâ€™re already there," he said. He swung one
arm in a slow half-circle to encompass the surrounding
landscape. "This is it. You a friend of Sandiâ€™s or
"A customer," she said. Sandi Givens was listed as "your
hostess" in the glossy dude ranch brochure that lay on the
Celicaâ€™s front seat.
He straightened in the saddle and widened his eyes. "You
came all this way for Mary Kay?"
"Mary Kay?" Charlie shook her head. "No way. They used
to do animal testing. I came out here to do some research
on horse whispering." She attempted a smile. "Iâ€™m a grad
The rider bunched the reins in his fist and backed the
horse a step or two. The horse moved cautiously, one foot
at a time, nodding her head and laying back her
ears. "Well, Sandi could sure use a shrink, but sheâ€™s not
home. And donâ€™t let her tell you she knows anything about
horses. Whispering or otherwise."
Charlie shrugged. "Well, duh. Sheâ€™s just the hostess."
"Hostess of what?"
"The dude ranch. Iâ€™m going to a Nate Shawcross clinic."
The cowboy narrowed his eyes. With his battered hat and
the two-day growth of stubble on his chin, he bore an
uncanny resemblance to the young Clint Eastwood. That
eerie, fluttering whistle pierced her subconscious again.
"Nate Shawcross doesnâ€™t do clinics," he said.
"Yes, he does. I have a reservation." She set her fists
on her hips and squared her shoulders. "Is there some kind
"Kind of." He leaned forward and pointed a thumb at his
own chest. "Because Iâ€™m Nate Shawcross, and I donâ€™t know a
damned thing about any clinic."
To be continued...
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