Author: Kate Pearce

Published: 2016

Mood: If you want nothing more than easy reading and lots of steamy cowboy lovin’.


This is one review I never, ever pictured myself writing.


But I’ve been on this quest to become well-rounded in all things Western, and I can’t keep saying I’ll read ‘all’ kinds of Westerns unless I actually try every type of Western book I find. So here I sit, having just finished The Reluctant Cowboy, trying to figure out how to review a modern cowboy romance.


I picked this particular book because it has such high reviews everywhere you look – Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the works. And if I was going to read a steamy Western, I wanted the best steamy f*cking Western out there.


And it’s… definitely steamy.


photo of The Reluctant Cowboy book on a hay bale


The Reluctant Cowboy tells the story of Chase Morgan, and uptight Silicon Valley millionaire who has hurled himself into making money to avoid his past. His grandma asks him to return to the massive family ranch, to look into a financial mystery that could leave poor Grandma Ruth homeless.


When Chase comes home, he finds that someone else is living with Ruth. January Mitchell is a leggy, California-blonde historian who has been working at the ranch in exchange for access to all of its historically juicy nooks and crannies. She’s determined to save the Morgan ranch, but Chase wants Ruth to get rid of it.


Will these two gorgeous creatures continue to butt heads, or will they work it out – between the sheets?


illustration of a moustache that is curled at the ends


I had to approach this review as a kind of apples-to-apples thing. You can’t compare a cowboy romance to, say, The Sacketts series.


Now, I’ve only ever read one other romance novel. When I was in my 20s, I was working at a public library and trying to be a more well-rounded reader in general, so I tried one of the sexy-looking books from that shelf burgeoning with oiled six-packs and heaving bosoms. I’m definitely not an expert on what makes a good romance, but at least I have SOME concept of the genre.


The Reluctant Cowboy seems like it hits all the marks.


  • It’s got a man in a Stetson with a glistening, tanned six-pack on the cover (although it looks like they gave him the wrong size shirt because it’s way too short and the pockets are weirdly high… probably no one else is looking at his pockets…)
  • The story moves quickly, and has more actual story to it than I expected
  • Everybody seems to be good-looking; even the grandma apparently is slim with “narrow hips” which for some reason needed to be noted; I can only assume this means at some point in the Morgan Ranch series there will be a steamy volume about Ruth and some silverfox rancher?
  • The writing is technically good – Pearce does a great job of varying her descriptive terms, so it’s not just the same adjectives over and over again to describe the good-looking people
  • The horse parts are pretty decent as well, I didn’t find myself irked over anything that horses wouldn’t do or that wouldn’t happen in a barn
  • There’s a lot of sex happening here

Oh yeah, this The Reluctant Cowboy is SMUTTY!


I don’t think it requires a spoiler alert to say that these sexy people get down to some super sexy times. I was blushing through a good portion of the book. And Pearce keeps it erotic; she’s careful to avoid the kind of terminology that would feel more porno than ‘love-making’, so you aren’t jarred out of the romance of it all.


I read one review that said The Reluctant Cowboy is full of toxic masculinity because Chase prefers to not experience shitty feelings, makes some mistakes in his new attempts to relax, and because January forgives him when he immediately apologizes for said mistakes.


Okay, you’re expecting WAY too much of a romance novel, or any kind of novel, if a person with a messed up childhood is supposed to have no character flaws. Plus, it’s a friggin’ romance. The point isn’t to spend the whole book working through heavy, depressing conversations – save that for your Oprah picks. We want the sexy sex!


Good lord, they’ve turned me into one of them.


Anyway, I think if you like cowboys and you like romance, you’d be into this book. I gave it four stars on Goodreads because it feels like a strong example of the genre – and I’m saying it’s a four-star romance, not comparing it to my four-star cowboy graphic novels or Western non-fiction that have a whole other standard. I just couldn’t bring myself to give it five stars, because everything is still way too convenient, and Chase thinks and says things that you can just tell weren’t written by a rugged cowboy.


But it’s close enough, and you quickly forget that stuff with all the sex happening.