Harlequin Romance #4270
ISBN: 978-0-373-17760-8
October 2011
Western Contemporary Romance

Larch Valley, a Small Town in the West

In HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART, Megan Briggs has just returned home after receiving treatment for breast cancer. With one breast removed and her hair gone thanks to chemo, Meg is feeling less than pretty when she runs into neighbor Clay Gregory, her old friend and crush from her adolescent years. Even as she tries to stay away from him due to her fear and shame, she finds herself unable to resist his charm and their past closeness. As it happens, Clay's Aunt is getting married, and he's without a date, so he asks Megan to go with him. When she shows up in a knockout dress, he sees her for the first time as a woman, not a kid sister or a sickly girl. But is it too late?
There is so much emotion to enjoy in Ms. Alward's stories. The drama is so vivid it's almost surreal, and yet somehow one is still able to connect to the characters. I loved Megan and Clay, even though I was occasionally annoyed with them. They were both very human; they didn't always make the right choices for themselves or in regards to one another, and it led to a lot of extra challenges and hurdles on the path to their happy-ever-after. Often, heroes and heroines do exactly what they're supposed to do all the time, and we readers get annoyed when they're ‘stupid' and mess up the romance again and again. But the reality is that we all mess up. Ms. Alward gives us a taste of realistic romance, and HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART showcases a lot of the drama that is omnipresent in real life, especially when real life includes cancer. The entire story was loaded with love, caring, fear…the emotions that build relationships and tear them apart. Watching delectable Clay and sweet Megan weather such an emotional hurricane was wonderful.

Now, of course, let's get to the important part of the review…the romance. I loved watching both Megan and Clay grow out of their fear and Clay grow in his support and love, and they made for a heart-warming, if occasionally heart-breaking, couple. Clay and Megan are so comfortable in their friendship that the new dimension of romantic attraction is really hard for them to assimilate, and Ms. Alward handled the contrast between comfort and uncertainty beautifully. The sexual tension (which, by the way, is never resolved so those of you looking for a ‘warm' sensuality level romance, here's one for you) is dramatic and smoldering throughout the book as soon as Megan steps out in that red dress. Whew, was it steamy! Of course, with Megan's mastectomy, there was plenty of emotion interlaced with the lust, making for an entirely touching romance all around.

The book is pretty smooth, overflowing with emotion, and is definitely a worth-while read for any lover of Ms. Alward's style, cowboys, or best-friend-to-lover romances. Ms. Alward writes consistently beautiful romance novels, and HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART is no exception—make this one for your keeper shelf.

Rose May