Courting the Cowboy by Carolyne Aarsen

Courting the Cowboy by Carolyne AarsenThis is a sweet story of recovery from tragedy and finding yourself in the aftermath. A quick read, I was surprised to find it includes some major issues and the consequences of living through them, but they’re well handled.

Ella lost touch with her artistic self when her child died and her marriage as well. She’s trying to reclaim that part of herself and has a golden opportunity to both teach and display her art if only she can create a new portfolio. To facilitate this, she rents an out-of-the-way cabin to regain her focus, only to discover it’s in the middle of just what she’s trying to escape.

Cord had the most perfect wife a man could have, kids, and the life he wanted, when his wife died unexpectedly. Now he’s struggling to live up to her memory while being a good father, and it’s all too much to handle. He’s certainly not interested in a new relationship, but his kids and his own feelings haven’t gotten the message.

They are both suffering crises of faith and life that they can’t seem to get beyond. Ella can’t move on until she gives herself the right to be happy while Cord needs to stop trying to live up to an impossible dream, something he can’t help but fail at. This is an inspirational romance so there is both a break with God in the past and recovering that connection. I found this thread subtle and smooth within the story rather than preachy.

The children are adorable and feel very realistic. How Ella finds her way back from losing her son is well crafted and plausible. The same with Cord learning to accept his future rather than letting guilt over his relationship with his dead wife cost both him and his children their childhood.

Come into the light from darkness is a major theme that resonates in both their paths. Cord’s love for his family is shown in the little things and small ways that make it feel real even, or especially, when the kids are acting up. Ella’s artistic journey is another powerful thread while I adore the resolution of her relationship with her mother, especially considering the very serious realizations her mother has to take in. I was worried there for a moment considering what we knew of her.

The actual ending scene read a little flat to me in the wording, especially when compared to how much I enjoyed the rest, but it’s a minor quibble in a story strong with redemption, family, and love. I’m happy to have spent time in their company.

P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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