A Mixed Bag – Review of “Cowboy Up” by Stacy Finz

A western romance is a “twofer” in my book – two for the price of one, and I was ready for some light reading. So “Cowboy Up” seemed like it hit all the right notes. The primary characters, Cash Dalton and Aubrey McAlister, are neighbors. He’s a former FBI agent living on the ranch he loved where he spent his summers as a boy. Aubrey was engaged and mere days away from her wedding when she caught her fiancé “in the act” with a married woman. When Cash finds out he’s the father of Ellie and Ellie is the result of a one-night stand 12 years ago and she’s just lost her mother to cancer, everyone’s life just gets even more tangled.

More complications arise when all the townspeople shun Aubrey and she loses business because she jilted Mitch, the town’s favorite son. Making everything even messier, Aubrey and Cash have an undeniable mutual attraction yet both feel like the timing couldn’t be worse. And Ellie is acting out and being a typical 12 year old brat. Even knowing how cliquish a small town can be, the idea that it could turn on one woman sufficiently to run her out of business is tough to swallow.

How the situation gets resolved and the interpersonal relationships that spring up around it is the basis for the plot. It’s entertaining and mostly amusing, occasionally melodramatic and as unpredictable as a 12 year old pre-pubescent princess. The writing style is fresh but author Finz should either replace the current copy editor or get better acquainted with her dictionary and thesaurus. A good copy editor should’ve caught the first of the four instances of misuse of the idiom “to LED on” vs “to LET on”; perspective vs prospective; stranglers vs stragglers. Not to be confused with typos, these blatant misuses wouldn’t be forgiven in a high school freshman English class.

In giving a rating, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the multitude of mangled sentences and their overall impact on this reader. Some will no doubt think me too harsh. However, when you join the big leagues, you should be prepared for the resultant criticism. Three stars.