Friday, June 11, 2010

The Cowboy and the Cougar by Helen Hardt

TITLE: The Cowboy and the Cougar
AUTHOR: Helen Hardt
PUBLISHER: Aspen Mountain Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 30k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.00

A bad day has forty-year-old Holly eager for distraction, so when a handsome younger cowboy offers to buy her a drink, she accepts his attention and has a fabulous one-night stand, never learning his real name or giving hers away. Six months later, in the middle of a drawing class, her cowboy shows up again. This time, he’s not going to let her disappear without at least finding out who she is…

I know there’s an abundance of cougar stories out there these days, but for some reason, I have a soft spot for them, even when I know that so many of them really aren’t that good. This one had hopes of meeting my expectations this time, but unfortunately, I figured out fairly quickly that I’ll have to avoid erotic works by this author in the future.

It’s not that it’s bad. It's just that it's really, really average. It opens with Holly, the forty-year-old single lawyer, having a real bad day (the details of which are not provided until the end), and picking up a young gorgeous cowboy for a one-night stand to help lift her mood. They have a great time, and then, she sneaks out the next morning. Cut to six months later. For a reason the reader has yet to learn, she’s left the law firm she worked for to be her own boss, but she’s only doing what she must to fund her rediscovered love for art, and the classes she is taking at the community college. She runs into the cowboy again when he poses nude for one of her classes, and he tracks her down afterward, sticking with her persistently until she agrees to go out with him. He had a fabulous time, too, on that one night, and wants more of it. Their romance progresses from there.

Holly and Jack (the cowboy) are both nice enough, though both are flawed as enjoyable characters for me. My problems with Holly stem from the fact that she is adamant about things not working out with Jack, first because of the age difference (he’s eleven years younger than her) and then for another reason the author plays coy in revealing until two-thirds of the way through the story. I never understood why she wasn’t upfront with him from the start. It made no sense for her not to be, especially since she seemed so determined to push him out of her life. My issue with Jack came from the opposite reaction. He seemed like the romance staple, the too good to be true hero. He’s gorgeous, comfortable modeling nude, has an adorable son, is an excellent father, the cowboy thing…the list goes on. I can’t think of a flaw that would have made him feel as real as Holly did, and having such an idealized hero in the face of her real world drama kept me from believing too much in either of them.

But my biggest problem comes from the author’s sex scenes. She uses terminology that doesn’t work for me and yanked me completely out of scenes. Things like, “Her sex wept.” and referring to the “soiled condom” when he pulled it off after sex. Choices like these, while probably fine for some readers, invariably ruin my enjoyment, and when it’s an erotic romance like this…well, that’s a good part of the story. If I do try another story by this author, it would likely have to be something that wasn’t erotic. I don’t think her idea of sexy and my idea of sexy necessarily match up.


6/10 – The sex scenes hung me up, big time


6/10 – Sweet if a tad too idealized


6/10 – Her lack of coming clean at the start bugged me

Entertainment value

5/10 – The characters are fine, but I have a feeling I’ll have to avoid erotic works by this author in the future

World building

6/10 – Some is provided at the ranch, but otherwise, it felt very anywhere and lifeless



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