The last thing Leda is looking for is a man in her life. Been there, done that, has the baby to prove it. Young and single, Leda's determined to take care of her daughter on her own, and so far, she's managing well. But when an old dog keeps wandering over to the neighbor's property, she has little choice but to get to know the handsome cowboy next door.
The Verdict: I have to say that this story surprised me. I think I went in expecting something more standard, but Leda is certainly not your typical country romance heroine, and while Eric might want to be her white knight, she's more than capable of handling things on her own. It was certainly a welcome departure from the typical stories I read.
At twenty-one, Leda has found herself trying to raise her infant daughter on her own. Thinking she was making a smart, pretty responsible decision, she fell head over heels for an older, stable man who wasn't nearly as committed as she thought he was. Now on her own, she's determined to give her daughter a wonderful life without any help or interference from the man who didn't bother to stick around.
Eric isn't looking for a relationship, either. But he's amused by and fascinated with Leda immediately upon meeting her. She's unlike anyone he's ever met, and he's certainly attracted to her, but she's got more baggage than he bargained for. A former bull rider, Eric's now an agent, used to getting the best options for his clients. And when he realizes Leda's not only lacking in moral support from her ex but also financial support, he wants to step up and help. That, of course, is when these two start becoming more involved than either of them intended.
While I never fully warmed to Leda, she was definitely one of the more interesting characters I've met in a story. She's spunky, capable, and — even though she's got some self-confidence issues as a result of her previous relationship — stronger than you'd expect. She's also managing rather well on her own, having worked out a good place to live, loyal friends, and a way to make her own way in the world. Eric is a good deal older than she is, though not enough that it's scandalous. And almost as soon as he realizes that she has no help from the ex, he wants to step in and fix it. However, Leda's not looking for someone to “magically” make things better, and it's not just because she's stubborn. She's actually doing just fine, even if things are a bit harder than they should be, and she'd rather forget her ex even exists than allow him into her daughter's life.
Their relationship starts out just as unconventional as the characters are, and without any contrived angst or unnecessary drama, they're a lot of fun. Leda's constantly throwing out ridiculous phrases in an effort to keep her language clean around her daughter, and I think I was just as amused as Eric was by her approach to things. Instead of the desperate, destitute, exhausted single mother one might expect, Leda finds joy in motherhood and making the best of what others would find an unfortunate situation.
The romance is instant attraction coupled with a subtle build of trust, and Leda's insecurities get in the way for a while, but the wait is both entertaining and well worth it. Their fun banter and often opposing headstrong ways makes for an interesting dynamic that makes their eventual romance seem more genuine that what I normally find in books. All in all, The Cowboy Next Door, is a great read, with characters that defy the tired old standard and deliver the kind of happily ever after you can imagine happening in real life.