Friday, March 3, 2017
The Cowgirl Ropes a Billionaire - Cora Seton (Cowboys of Chance Creek #4)
This was one of my choices for the Unapologetic Romance Readers' 2017 Reading Challenge, specifically for the category of "A millionaire/billionaire romance." I decided on this one because I got it for free on my Kindle at some point and it had been languishing ever since. I have not read the previous 3 books in this series.
Okay, guys, let me get it out of the way up front: It's not as bad as it looks. In fact, it was quite good. But it doesn't really involve a cowgirl. It involves a veterinarian. Though there is a billionaire involved. But the non-cowgirl doesn't particularly want to marry him. Oi. Let me start from the beginning.
Bella is a veterinarian living in Chance Creek, Montana. She owns both a vet clinic and an animal shelter where she takes care of the areas neglected, abandoned, and generally unwanted pets. Her older brother is the area's livestock vet, and Bella has a bit of an inferiority complex about this, as well as tense relations with her family in general because she blames herself for the loss of half the family farm, and it seems like her brother and father blame her, too, while her mother is torn between the two halves. But Bella's big heart where needy animals are concerned does not go well with the expenses that are coupled with running a shelter, and she's broke. In fact, she's about to go out of business...so her assistant/secretary/coworker Hannah signs Bella up to participate on a show called Can You Beat a Billionaire? The show's premise is that billionaire and a poor person compete against each other; if the billionaire wins, he or she gets to impose some condition on the loser. If the poor person wins, he or she gets five million dollars.
The billionaire in the scenario is Evan Mortimer, who owns a company that does a lot of stuff but he really wants to get into changing the world through green technology. His problem is that, unless he gets married within the month, he'll lose his controlling shares and they'll go to his brother, based on an arcane condition in his great-grandfather something-or-another's will (I think) that states the head of the company has to be married. Yes, it's that trope. But Evan both acknowledges this is ridiculous and that he wouldn't mind being married to Bella/would like to have a year (the amount of time he has to stay married) to get her to like him, too. And he's not completely obnoxious, there's some stuff going on behind his issues, so that wasn't so bad.
So, rather than pastures and horses and untied ties, as the cover of the book indicates, the story is actually comprised of Bella and Chase competing against each other reality-show style in Jasper Park in Canada. They hike, they compete challenges, they are filmed all the time. This was, in fact, extremely better (to me) than what the cover had indicated. Too bad I'll have to read that category for the challenge eventually... Sigh. Anyway, Evan and Bella end up spending quite a bit of time together and grow closer, though each of them still wants to win. There's no colluding here. The challenges are the sort of thing that you'd see on something that's a combination of Survivor and, I don't know, something...not Survivor-like. There's also this behind-the-scenes view that the show isn't as "rough" as they make it out to be, which I liked, because I'm always so skeptical of those shows. Despite them hiking and kayaking and digging through the woods, they have their meals prepped for them, they have a makeup artist, there's a possibility to win a hot shower...stuff like that.
The writing here was actually decent, too. Though the book took place over a relatively short period of time, Bella and Evan's attraction seems to grow naturally. The conflict also seems natural, because the two of them can't communicate in a meaningful way because they're being filmed all the time and any time something goes away from how the show's producer wants, she interrupts and reminds them of contracts, what they might lose, etc. And as soon as the show is over, they're whisked off and don't really get a chance to wrap things up. This all made sense in the context.
Some other reviews mentioned a lack of consistency, but if that was an issue with this book, I think it's been resolved by now, because I went into the book with an eye out for those issues but didn't find anything glaring.
Overall, this was cute, and with a romance that seemed natural and a plot that was not as painful or cliched as I thought it would be. This was a huge relief. While some of the other books in the series got a raised eyebrow from me (the one after this appears to have a heroine who's escaping Middle Eastern terrorists?) this was just fine. I don't think I'd go back to it, it was a fine choice for this category.
3 stars out of 5.