How the Cowboy Was Won
Series: Cupid, Texas
Genre: Adult, Retellings, Romance
Publication date: March 27th, 2018
Return to New York Times Bestselling Author Lori Wilde’s beloved town of Cupid, Texas, where wedding fever is in the air . . . and two best friends discover that sometimes the perfect match is standing right in front of you . . .
Ember Alzate is a fantastic matchmaker with one big problem: she can’t find the perfect mate for herself! Alzate family legend says that when she kisses “the One” she’ll hear a mysterious humming in her head. Well, Ember’s kissed a lot of guys and she’s never heard a thing. Now, instead of searching for herself, she vows to find her best friend, Ranger Lockhart, a bride. It’s clear this smart, sexy man just needs to meet the right gal.
Ranger’s returned home to Cupid with marriage on his mind, but he’s not interested in the parade of women Ember pushes under his nose. His thoughts keep returning to his best friend—with her combustible combination of curves and sass. No one compares to Ember, but what’s it going to take to convince her she’s the woman for him?
-A copy was provided by Avon for review-
When one of my mutuals pointed out How the Cowboy Was Won was an Emma retelling, I was all aboard. I adore Jane Austen novels and I especially adore retellings of them. I don’t think I’ve seen many literary Emma retellings so it’s amusing that this year, there are two on my TBR!
So. Anyway. I have a complicated relationship with this book. There are parts of it I really liked but there were a bunch of things that rubbed me the wrong way and I haven’t seen many reviews talking about some of the things that bothered me which makes me more inclined to be critical. I want issues to be talked about. SO. ANYWAY. I am going to start with the good stuff first and break this review down into pros and cons because I am a lister.
- The romance has a slow buildup. Not necessarily because there aren’t sparks right off the bat, but because their feelings take sometime to build up and I LOVE IT. THE SLOW BURN IS REAL, PEOPLE.
- Supportive couple. Ember and Ranger are ridiculously supportive of one another. As friends, as a couple. I love that even when there is jealousy, it is never ever ever about their successes and they are always there for one another. There is a lot of angst in this book but like regardless, Ember and Ranger are just REALLY GOOD FRIENDS and even better romantic partners.
In general, my positive experience reading this book was centered around how the romance was written. Lori Wilde did a really good job making me feel invested in the couple and their future. However, there were a bunch of cons that did impact my overall reading experience.
- Our first intro to Ember centers how she felt ‘other’ growing up because she inherited her mother’s fair skin and red hair instead of her father’s Native American genes. I am sorry but what? I am pretty sure that in general, being white passing has benefitted her more often that not. Also in general, I feel like the author really portrays Ember’s Native American identity in a very stereotypical way and really only uses it in this exoticized, watered down way that just felt icky and disrespectful to me. There are more books in this series and maybe things are done differently in them but since this is the only book I’ve read in the series, it is the only one I can speak to.
- There is ableist language in this book. Especially pertaining to Ranger’s various illnesses growing up. His younger self is referred to as an ‘invalid.’ Which is problematic on a number of levels. You can read more about why the word is hurtful here.
- So the main plot of this book is that Ember is trying to find Ranger a wife with good social skills so he can get the job he wants and not have to move to New Zealand. In comes Dawn, his research partner and this is what Ember has to say about her. “Dawn knew his world. Had great social skills. She would be an asset to any man trying to climb the academic ladder.” (note that this quote was not taken from a final version of the book, only my review copy.) Excuse me????? Dawn does not exist to only be an asset to a man who wants to climb the academic ladder. She wants to climb the ladder too and as a woman in STEM, that ladder is gonna be much harder for her to climb than a man lacking in social skills. This really irked me because it just seemed to dismissive of women in STEM.
On a larger scale, some of my cons may seem minor but these things build up and I think they are worth addressing because they are indicative of larger problems. There is good to be had in this book and the romance will be sure to win over a number of readers, but I think these issues are important to keep in mind and I hope anyone who picks the book up will do just that.