I picked up this book because of the cover. I'm a sucker for horses.
Unfortunately, I'm not a sucker for people, especially annoying heroines. *sigh*
Charlie is a graduate student in psychology and her student advisor is sending her to Wyoming from New Jersey to study interspecies non-verbal communication. So she's carted off to a horse whispering clinic for some objective observation. Except PETA-member Charlie is anything but objective when it comes to animals and her perceived mistreatment of them. When she sees Nate riding his horse - she thinks he's the worst kind of human, forcing animals to do things they don't want to do. I like Nate's explanation to Charlie. He points out the horse's teeth and size (over 1,000 lbs, thank you very much) and says there's no way he'd get this horse to do anything it didn't want to do. I just felt that Charlie's attitude went a bit far. And hello - girl from New Jersey, where do you get off judging cowboys?
Once Charlie makes it to the ranch with Nate's help (he rescued her from a flat tire in the middle of nowhere), Charlie quickly realizes that she's been had. Nate, our horse whisperer, is not even aware that he's supposed to be teaching a bunch of people. His ex-girlfriend set the whole thing up with a fake brochure, took all the deposits and ran with the money (and something else important to Nate). But Charlie has quickly come to like Nate and decides to stick around and help him out - at least until someone pays the rest of their fees and Nate can give her the money to head back to Jersey as quickly as possible.
I don't know where to begin with this book. It definitely had potential to be a cute story, but I was just annoyed by it in the end. Charlie is annoying - her initial bias towards cowboys notwithstanding, she does something stupid with a stallion and she liked to run away from things. Her and her mother had The Plan and I get where her mom is coming from but Charlie is an adult. Ok, first The Plan. Charlie's mom had Charlie really young and so gave up all her dreams to raise her baby girl because the father ran off. Fine. So Charlie grows up and refuses to let any man get close because she doesn't want to be abandoned like her mom. Issues, much? It's called protection
but Charlie took it too far. She was going to throw everything away because of The Plan.
Then there's the ending. Nate is the strong, silent type. He doesn't waste words. But it's to the point where he doesn't tell Charlie some pretty important things (like that he loves her) and just assumes that Charlie is going along with his plans - when he hasn't even told them to her in the first place! Then Charlie and Nate like to jump to conclusions. Annoying! I get that Charlie does it to protect herself from hurt - she'd rather see the worst in people because she's already looking for it anyway. But for Nate? It didn't fit - and for thinking the woman he loves is driving away, he's pretty complacent with it.
Despite all these annoying, niggling details, I enjoyed the story at the heart of this book. A city girl in the country, a wounded man more comfortable with animals and not quite sure how to talk to women? Nate was totally endearing. And the thing that was taken from him? Awwww! I like how Charlie made him a better person. He was kind of a doormat to his first girlfriend but being with Charlie showed him how things ought to be between two people who love each other and that gave him the guts to fight for what was his. And she showed him his potential. He's the kind of guy who lives in a ranch house that his grandmother decorated and things still look the same. He doesn't embrace change - but he welcome the whirlwind called Charlie into his life. And yes, once Charlie got over herself and saw how Nate worked with the animals, she wasn't too bad, really. She was a real help to Nate and made him believe in himself.
One Fine Cowboy gets a 3 out of 5 from me.