Saturday, November 29, 2014

Joan Johnston -- Captive

Joan Johnston -- Captive

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.15}
Action: ♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥.♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦ / Suspense: ♠♠
Action: 2.0 / Emotion: 3.0 / Romance: 4.5 / Sensuous: 2.0 / Suspense: 2.0  //  Historical Flavor: 4.0 // Laughter: 1 / Giggle: 1 // Tears: 1 / Teary: 0

Setting:       London, England / Sussex, England
Era:             1814
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Since Joan Johnston is a favorite author it comes as no surprise that upon reading Captive, the first book in The Captive Hearts Quartet, for the third time, it was to find it an enjoyable, entertaining, simplistic read.   Johnson is quite talented at telling a story that grabs the reader's immediate interest and keeps it throughout the story.

When the book opened with a prologue that introduced our hero, Lionel "Lion" Morgan, the Earl of Denbigh, being left at the altar in front of the entire ton, any romantic reader will feel great compassion for him.   A bit of mystery is inserted into the story when Lion, who was so in love with Lady Alice Porter, his runaway fiancé, that he followed after her and then read the unburned portion of the note Alice threw into the fireplace in her room at the Duck and Goose inn before swallowing enough laudanum to take her life.   Naturally, it becomes imperative to keep reading to find out what kind of heroine will inveigle her way into the heart of such a wounded man.
He turned on his booted heel and left the room, his tears dried in streaks upon his cheeks, his heart no longer a thing of flesh and blood, but cast forever in stone.   (Lion, page 14)
If there is one thing negative about Captive, it is the heroine that was created to melt Lion's heart of stone.   Lion's ward, Charlotte "Charlie" Edgerton, who arrived at Denbigh Castle, Lion's country home in Sussex, four months ago, was introduced to reveal her as a rip-roaring, 'I'll do things my own way, no matter what anybody else thinks,' uncultured American.   But the most irritating thing about Charlie was that she was only seventeen years old.   Yes, it is a common practice that seventeen year old young ladies were introduced into the marriage market back in 1814.   But come on, we all know that most seventeen year olds act immature.   And Charlie was not an exception to the rule.   Since this story is make-believe, what could it have hurt to have aged the heroine a couple of years, so the modern reader would not cringe upon reading that the heroine was so young.

Sure, there were many qualities about Charlie that made her a wonderful heroine, but that immaturity kept cropping up and destroying her positive image.   The most wonderful thing about Charlie was her ability to treat everyone as not only her friend, but as her equal.   Naturally, Charlie's unwillingness to bow to the dictates of a class-conscious guardian made for several entertaining incidents.
"I say there, Charlie --"
Denbigh glanced up to see one of his footman starting toward the girl.   He was appalled to hear the chit addressed by that impossible nickname -- and by one of his servants!
The footman, Galbraith, recognized his mistake immediately and said, "Begging your pardon, milord, but Char -- lady Charlotte is --" he cut himself off again and shifted from foot to foot.
"What Timothy is trying to say is that we're friends, and he's worried about me," the chit said.   (page 26-27)
The greatest portion of Lion and Charlie's story was taken up with their efforts to remake one another, while at the same time clinging to their own uniquenesses.
"But before you leave this house again, you will dress and act and talk like a lady."   (Lion, page 30)

She would dress and act and talk just as she always had and be damned to him!   (Charlotte, page 33)

The Earl of Denbigh finally met his match.   It was time he learned to treat his family better.   His servants, too, for that matter.   And he could use a little instruction in the proper care and consideration of a ward.   Oh, yes, Charlotte Edgerton had a few lessons to teach the arrogant earl.   (Charlotte, page 37)

He was the one in control.   He gave the orders in this house.   It was her duty to obey them.   (Lion, page 43)

"You can be a kind man," she pointed out to him.   "If you would only try a little harder."   (Charlotte, page 61)
Even though Lion was arrogant, autocratic, and set in his ways, it was easier to identify with him rather than with Charlotte simply because he was painted with the typical handsome, über-masculine Regency-era lord brush.
Charlotte had discounted all the stories she had heard about the earl since she had arrived at Denbigh Castle.   How he had killed a man simply because he didn't like the way he tied his neck cloth.   That he was so dangerous with his fists that no one would go into the ring with him at Gentleman Jackson's salon.   That his fencing bouts at Angelo's had resulted in serious injury to at least three young bucks of the ton who had wanted to try their hand at besting him.   And that he was an unbeatable whip, risked life and limb to race his cattle, and always won.   (Charlotte, page 36)

His eyes were startling to behold, such a light, silvery gray they had made her breath catch in her throat the first time he looked at her.   He had an aristocratic nose and angular cheekbones.   His mouth was wide and generous, though he kept it pressed flat most of the time in a grim line.   Even more impressive was the man himself.   His tightly fitted jacket emphasized his broad shoulders, while his flat stomach and strong thighs were shown to advantage in skintight buckskins.   Oh, he was attractive, all right.   (Charlotte, page 36-37)
Since this is Lion's and Charlotte's fairy tale, it should come as no surprise that they were attracted to one another in spite of their differences.   Johnston is quite skilled at keeping the sensuality and awareness between Lion and Charlotte always at the forefront of their story, even while they are at loggerheads.
He did not have the same values as she did, or embrace the same ideals.   She would be better off choosing a husband of her own.   (Charlotte, page 77)

"You make a man want to keep you safe from the evils of the world, to kiss you and touch you and hold you close."   (Lion, page 91)

Unless he wanted to end up buckled to her for the rest of his life, he had better find her another husband.   (Lion, page 149)

"I no longer care whether you believe in Lady Alice's fidelity or not.   You may wallow in self-pity and bitterness for the rest of your life, if you want to.   I'm not going to waste any more of my time trying to heal your heart.   Because I know now it would make no difference.   You will never be able to accept me for who I am."   (Charlotte, page 291)

It was easier to criticize Charlotte than it was to take the blame for something stupid he had done.   (Lion, page 294)

She had ended his desolation, filled up his barren days, challenged him to reach out and grab for life, rather that let it pass him by.   (Lion, page 295)
But to be honest, the more interesting love story in the book was the one that took the back seat.   While it was easy to get tired of Charlie's dramatics, she was instrumental in helping Lady Olivia "Livy" Morgan, Lion's spinster sister to find hope again.   Olivia was painted with a brush that was coated with unattractiveness.
Lion stared down at the pixielike urchin standing across from him who had convinced his sister -- who had taken such a terrible spill during a hunt eight years ago that it had left her with an awkward limp -- to get back on a horse.   (Lion, page 34)  

Lady Olivia, the earl's sister, was eight years her elder, already five and twenty.   But she was as timid as a mouse -- and looked a great deal like one, too, with her plain brown hair and large hazel eyes.   (Charlotte, page 34)
It was Olivia's heartbreak and her efforts to find her happily-ever-after that made this book that much more readable.   Lion was adamantly opposed to the attention that Reeve Somers, the Duke of Braddock showed Olivia.   Not because Reeve was another rich, handsome, charming, rakehell, but because Reeve was out to destroy Lion for killing his twenty-one year old brother, James Somers, in a duel.   This story would have been so much more interesting if Johnston had only let us have a bit more Reeve and Olivia time.

You could just imagine Olivia's heart singing when she ended up dancing the waltz with one of the most handsome men of the ton when Charlie sent Braddock to ask Oliva to dance when Lion refused to let Braddock dance with Charlotte.
"I assure you, my lady, from the indecently close way I am holding you, we are already setting tongues to wagging.   And I must say, I am not suffering at all from the experience.   Beneath that dreadfully unstylish frock you are wearing, I believe I am holding quite a handful of woman."   (Braddock, page 93)
Olivia's story was particularly heart-rending as she revealed why she was willing to ignore all of Lion's demands and valid reasons for staying far away from Braddock.   Charlie, on the other hand, told Olivia to pursue her dreams.
He put his hands on her shoulders.   They felt more oppressive than comforting.   She knew he loved her.   She knew he only wanted the best for her.   But he had not lived the isolated life she had.   He had not had his dreams dashed by a riding accident at the age when other girls were enjoying their first season in London.   He had not wished and hoped and yearned for the impossible.
How could she turn away from Braddock?   How could she give up even a frail hope of becoming a wife and mother?
"I'm willing to take the risk, Lion.   I'm willing to give Braddock a chance."   (Oliva, page 134)

But all the pent up emotions she had stuffed down inside her for so many years cascaded over her like the rush of water over a broken dam.   She moaned as she opened her mouth to him, a grating, carnal sound so foreign to her ears that she would have been mortified if she had been capable of rational thought at all.   (Olivia, page 165)

If he touched her, she would give herself to him.   She was that weak.   She was that needy.   (Olivia, page 238)

Please understand, Lion.   I love him.   I had no choice about whom I loved.   Any more than you did.   He is the other half of me.   (Olivia, page 273)
The only confusing part of Reeve and Olivia's story was why Reeve fell for Olivia.   Because her character was developed to emphasize her unattractiveness, her limp and her shyness, it was difficult to understand what motivated the very powerful Duke of Braddock to fall for such a poorly dressed, shy miss, who would barely even look at him.
For the length of a heartbeat, he thought Lady Olivia was actually going to raise her eyes and look at him.   He quickly wiped the calculating look from his face.   Her lids rose slightly, then lowered again, along with her chin, and he was saved from her scrutiny.
. . .
His intentions toward her were not, in fact, honorable.   But he was a duke, and she was an ape-leader with no realistic hope of finding a husband.   She could not really be refusing him!   (Braddock, page 130)
By fall he did.
He had not counted on her loving him.   Or on falling a little in love with her.   (Reeve, page 336)
Johnston did a great job of adding sensuality, passion and heat to the seduction scenes between Lion and Charlotte.   However, it was thanks to the romance that developed between Reeve and Olivia that the reader was entertained with the sizzle and spice in a well-written lovemaking scene.

In most of Johnston's books, she introduces very interesting and well-developed secondary characters that really aid in the telling of the story.   In Captive, however, the additional secondary characters that added to the book (beside Reeve and Olivia, of course) played marginal roles in the telling of Lion's and Charlotte's story.

At first, it seemed that Lion's best friend and Alice's brother, Percival "Percy" Porter, Viscount Burton, was going to play a large role in the book, but Percy showed up rarely in the story and his only call to fame seemed to be his abominable sense of fashion.

Lion's grandfather and grandmother showed up at Denbigh Castle to add a little flavor and history to the story.   Arthur and Lizzie Morgan, the Duke and Duchess of Trent had always embarrassed Lion because they did not act remote and haughty like peers of the realm, but instead were open and friendly and forever breaking the rules -- much like Charlotte.   In fact the Duchess of Trent had a heart to heart talk with Charlotte telling her to give her love for Lion a chance because she knew what is was to lose one's soul mate to stubbornness.

Basically, Captive, the first book in The Captive Heart Quartet, by Joan Johnston is another entertaining, enjoyable book.   Johnston gave readers two heros and heroines as she wove two wonderful tales into one book.   The aspects of the book that make it a worthy read include: {1} the main hero, Lionel "Lion" Morgan, Earl of Denbigh, a typical rake from the Regency-era, who had his heart broken; {2} the main heroine, Charlotte "Charlie" Edgerton, a young, opinionated, daring, attractive American who became Lion's ward and the woman who would soften his heart; {3} the secondary hero, Reeve Somers, the sixth Duke of Braddock, a rich, bold, driven aristocrat who was seeking retribution; {4} the secondary heroine, Lady Olivia "Livy" Morgan, an unattractive spinster who had buried her dreams of having a husband and children when she suffered a riding injury eight long years ago; {5} some action sequences to add entertainment value to the tale; {6} an emotional connection developed between the characters and the reader to bring forth a few laughs and a few tears; {7} a strong undercurrent of romance permeated the entire book; {8} a slight aura of suspense invaded the story: {a} why did Alice kill herself, and {b} was Reeve going to use Olivia to force Lion into a duel; {9} sensuality, sizzle, spice, passion and emotion were prevalent in the seduction and lovemaking scenes; {10} the descriptions of the clothing, actions, and attitudes of the characters added a strong historical flavor to the book; and {11} the addition of several minor, but interesting secondary characters added more depth to the story.   Any fan of Regency romance books should enjoy this quick, easy read.
--Vonda M. Reid (Saturday, October 25, 2014 : 11:57 p.m.)     [345]

Books In The Series: "The Captive Heart Quartet"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.05-1996CaptiveLionel "Lion" Morgan, Earl of DenbighMiss Charlotte "Charlie" Edgerton
  secondary:Reeve Somers, sixth Duke of BraddockLady Olivia "Livy" Morgan
02.02-1997After The KissCaptain Lord Marcus Wharton, "The Beau"Elizabeth "Eliza" Sheringham
03.03-1998The BodyguardAlastair "Alex" Wharton, sixth Duke of Blackthorne Katherine "Kitt" MacKinnon
04.02-1999The BridegroomClay Giles Bannister, Earl of CarlisleLady Regina "Reggie" Allison Wharton
  secondary:Michael "Mick" O'Malley / Michael Delaford, Earl of StalbridgeRebecca "Becky" Wharton Hastings, Lady Penrith

Characters Found In "Captive"
Character Description
Lionel "Lion" Morgan, Earl of Denbigh, Viscount Leighton[Hero] private man (3) stormy gray eyes (5) silvery eyes (17) 29-y-o (21) dangerous with fists; unbeatable whip; startling light silver gray eyes (36) aristocratic nose; angular cheekbones; wide generous mouth; broad shoulders; flat stomach; strong thighs; attractive (37) dark curls cut in a Brutus (40) took on responsibilities for title at young age; great deal of freedom to do as he pleased (41) rich as Croesus; much in demand despite his rakish behavior (67) black hair; silvery gray eyes (83) wide-spaced eyes; black brows; aquiline nose; square jaw; mobile mouth that hardly ever smiled (89) become earl when 18 (95) too rigidly set in his ways; authoritarian (112) a confident Corinthian; a man of the world; a pink of the ton (143) followed the rules (148) high-handed; arrogant; arbitrary; overbearing; domineering (151)
Charlotte "Charlie" Edgerton[Heroine] Lion's new American ward; refused to be bound by convention; upsetting the neighbors by her outlandish behavior (15) 17-y-o (16) husky voice; wearing tight-fitting breeches (18) thin lawn shirt; rode astride; small nose freckled; golden hair; feminine, heart-shaped face; green cat's eyes; open, honest curiosity; square chin (19) arrived at Denbigh Castle 4-mo-a; pixielike urchin (20) delightfully frank; guileless, enchanting smile (21) moved with strength and grace (22) had a temper and wasn't afraid to display it (24) didn't recognize classes (27) unrepentant; undeterred (30) charming; disarming; disturbing; delightful (32) small; surprisingly sturdy (47) lively girl; doesn't think before she acts (54) no badness in her; 'has a huge heart, and it is open to everyone' (55) beautiful (88) freckles; smiles more than usual miss; eyes are striking green color that are never downcast; chin is continually outthrust as though she is out to fight the world (107) wonderfully vivid imagination (196) waist-length hair cut short (198) unpredictable; unmanageable (217)
. . .. . .
Reeve Somers, Duke of Braddock[Secondary Hero] blonde Adonis; lines webbed his piercing blue eyes and creased his sharp-bone cheeks; broad shoulders; lean hips; altogether and admirable male specimen (79) 37/38-y-o (80) infamous rake (82) Lion's mortal enemy (83) handsome; striking contrast with blond hair and blue eyes (83) sworn to ruin Lion; a confirmed bachelor (87) one of the richest men in the kingdom (109) sixth Duke of Braddock; Earl of Comarty, Viscount Greenwich, Baron Hardy and several other lessor titles (123)
Lady Olivia "Livy" Morgan[Secondary Heroine] Lion's sister (15) a terrible spill during a hunt 8-y-a left her with an awkward limp (20) 25-y-o; timid as a mouse; plain brown hair; large hazel eyes (34) broken leg had not healed properly, and one leg was slightly longer than the other (53) kind; thoughtful (65) played the piano (68) not pretty; shy; retiring; will not speak at all if you do not prompt her (109) plain; ordinary; forthright (114) brown hair took on red highlights; hazel eyes looked warm and rich as sherry; against the peach fabric her skin looked vibrantly alive (116)
. . .. . .
Bailey[One Appearance] Braddock's driver (275)
Lord Bottomly[One Appearance] nearly bumped into Lion and Charlotte on dance floor (85)
Viscount Canby[One Appearance] one of Charlotte's possible suitors; said to be in trade; made and lost a dozen fortunes (218)
Clementine[One Appearance] maid of all work (316)
Earl of Devon[One Appearance] one of Charlotte's possible suitors; had 4 children by his mistress of 10 years; Charlotte wouldn't tolerate that (218)
Lord Montgomery "Monty" Edgerton[No Appearance] Charlotte's father; moved to New Orleans (22)
Lord Fairchild[One Appearance] danced with Charlotte at Almack's (84)
Sir Fenton[One Appearance] one of Charlotte's possible suitors; rake of forty; too old for Charlotte (218)
Lady Claudia Frockman[One Appearance] Lion's mistress for the past 4 months; widow (17)
Timothy Galbraith[Rare Appearances] Denbigh Castle footman; Charlotte's friend; young; handsome (26)
Grimes[One Appearance] Somersville Manor butler; bushy eyebrows (351)
Lord Harrellson[One Appearance] one of Charlotte's possible suitors; tended to corpulence; probably wouldn't live to old age (218)
Henry[One Appearance] Lion's coachman (24)
Lady Hornby[One Appearance] notorious gossip; witness to Lion being left at the altar (3)
Jeremy[No Appearance] Denbigh Castle hostler; took Lion's favorite hunter into the village to get loose shoe replaced (43)
Jerrold[One Appearance] one of the gentlemen fawning over Charlotte (172)
Mrs. Killington[No Appearance] the squire's wife; Lion's neighbor; wrote him letters begging him to take charge of his new ward (15)
Mephistopheles[Animal] Charlie's gorgeous black stallion; doesn't like to lose (18)
Arthur [Morgan], Duke of Trent[Brief Appearances] Lion's grandfather; ill for years; housebound on estate in Kent (41) leaving heavily on gnarled hickory cane; foot swathed in an immense bandage; gout; few gray hairs atop his head (144) chilblained hands (145) did not act remote and haughty like a duke, instead open and friendly; forever breaking the rules (148)
Lizzie [Morgan], Duchess of Trent[Secondary Character] Lion's grandmother (41) very tall; called Long Meg in her youth; pure white hair in a braid across top of her head that looked like a crown; moved with regal grace (144) almost married Charlotte's father (147) did not act remote and haughty like a duchess, instead open and friendly; forever breaking the rules (148) same silvery eyes as Lion, faded with age (264) bluestocking (309) strong headed chit; determined to do things her own way (311)
Marchioness of Peterborough[One Appearance] Percival and Alice's mother (3)
Marquis of Peterborough[One Appearance] Percival and Alice's father (2)
Lady Alice Porter[One Appearance] Lion's bride (1) guinea-gold curls stacked high atop her head; petite stature; dewy blue eyes (7) long black lashes (8)
Percival "Percy" Porter, Viscount Burton[Occasional Appearances] Lion's best friend; Alice's elder brother (1) blond hair (4) substantial girth; execrable sense of fashion; deplored exercise; had been nowhere near the top of his class at Eton or Oxford; no vices; a staunch and steadfast friend (102) always in a cheerful mood; did not seem to care that his clothing choices were unfortunate (267)
Mr. Rowland[One Appearance] the doctor that attended Lion (55)
Rufus[No Appearance] footman in Braddock's household; walking out with Sally (316)
Sally[Occasional Appearances] Alice's maid; brown eyes (8) lady's maid that Charlotte hired when she was begging scraps at the back door; in the family way (149)
Samuels[Brief Appearances] Denbigh Castle butler (25)
Lord James Somers[No Appearance] Duke of Braddock's younger brother; Lion killed him in a duel a year ago (83) 21-y-o when died in duel (124)
Harvey StilesDuke of Trent's elderly butler; Charlotte procured him a better set of false teeth (157)
Theobald[Brief Appearances] Lion's valet; prided himself on keeping his master looking top-of-the-trees (49) dressing Lion since he was a boy; at times still treated him like a boy (51)
Mrs. Tinsworthy[Rare Appearances] Denbigh Castle housekeeper (25)
Lord Webster[One Appearance] one of Charlotte's possible suitors; large man; broader shoulders than Lion; taller than Lion; without an ounce of fat on him; not given to excesses; lived most of the year on his country estate (218) lost 2 wives to childbirth (219)
Mrs. Wilson[One Appearance] Somersville Manor housekeeper (352)

Locations, Organizations Found In "Captive"
Location / Organization Description
Angelo'swhere Lion had injured 3 young bucks during fencing matches (36)
Boar and Houndtavern; sat at the crossroads of the New Road leading out of London; where Lion asked Percy to meet him (6)
Brightonwhere the Marquis of Peterborough had a summer home (4) in Sussex (5)
Covent Gardenwhere Olivia, Braddock, Lion, Charlotte went to attend the theater (151)
Denbigh CastleLion's country home (16) description (17) in Sussex (23)
Duck and Goosesmall inn at a crossroad running east and west; where Alice took lodging when her carriage broke a wheel (7)
Gentleman Jackson'sno one wanted to enter the ring with Lion (36)
Kentwhere Duke of Trent lived (41)
Peterborough Manorsummer home of the Marquis of Peterborough; in Sussex near Brighton (5)
St. George'sin London; where Lion was waiting for his bride to show (1)
Slaughtered Sheepinn in Kent near Somersville; where Lion would be staying (302)
Somersvillein Kent, where Braddock was born and raised (302)

"Captive" Quotations
54"Because you have the right does not mean it is right" (Olivia)
165all the pent up emotions she had stuffed down inside her for so many years cascaded over her like the rush of water over a broken dam.   (Olivia)
193"We bird-witted females seldom have a useful thought in our heads."   (Charlotte)
196her heart had settled on someone incapable of loving her in return.   (Charlotte)
196Denbigh was so far from perfect, he had a long way to go.   (Charlotte)
240"All I want from you is you."   (Braddock)
249"It is the way of the world.   There are those who give orders and those who take them."   (Stiles)
256"your heart is not whole.   When it is . . . if it ever is . . . I would like to have it."   (Charlotte)
312"I have been content, my dear.   I have been happy.   But there is an empty place inside me that was never filled."   (Lizzie)
313Lion was the other half of her.   But she could not give up the essence of herself, even to be with him.   If he made her into someone else, the two halves that should have fit together, his and hers, no longer would.   (Charlotte)
339"Revenge is an empty, hollow thing, Reeve.   I won't aid you in seeking it.   You can have me or vengeance.   You cannot have both."   (Olivia)

"Joan Johnston -- Captive" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Joan Johnston's WebsiteAuthor
----Joan Johnston's FacebookAuthor
. . . . . . . . .. . .
B / Warm05-01-1996All About Romance"The author's talent brings everything to vivid life."
4.06 average{16 reviews}Amazonas of: November 29, 2014
4.20 average{5 ratings}Barnes & Nobleas of: November 29, 2014
----Fantastic FictionList of Joan Johnston's Books
----Fict FactList of Books In The "Captive Hearts" Quartet
----Fiction DBList of Joan Johnston's Books
3.77 average{275 ratings}Good Readsas of: November 29, 2014
3.54 average{14 ratings}Library Thingas of: November 29, 2014
----Order of BooksList of Joan Johnston's Books
3.70 average{91 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: November 29, 2014
4.50 average{4 ratings}Shelfarias of: November 29, 2014
4.1511-29-2014Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Joan Johnston -- The Cowboy

Joan Johnston -- The Cowboy

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.75}
Action: ♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣.♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠.♠
Action: 3.0 / Emotion: 4.5 / Romance: 5.0 / Sensuous: 2.0 / Suspense: 3.5  //  Laughter: 0 // Tears: 4 / Teary: 1

Setting:       Texas
Era:             Present Day (2000)
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Joan Johnston has a wonderful gift when it comes to telling a story that just draws the reader into the lives of the characters that walk through the pages of her books and keeps readers enthralled until that very last sentence.   Thus, it comes as no surprise that The Cowboy, the first book in The Bitter Creek Series was an emotionally engaging, highly entertaining book about reunited lost loves.

Johnston introduced a number of characters and began fleshing out their personalities in this first book of The Bitter Creek Series in such a manner that it becomes impossible not to want to continue reading more of these books to find out what is going to happen to these feuding families.   That is one of the reasons for re-reading this book.   Although it was easy to remember a few details about the characters being featured in this series, eight years (October 24, 2006) is a long time to remember all the events that happened between the feuding families: the Blackthornes and the Creeds.

The prologue introduces the eldest children of the feuding families.   University of Texas senior, Trace Blackthorne, is introduced to readers sharing the bed of freshman, Callie Creed.   Callie breaks the news to Trace that their chance for future happiness is doomed because of the phone call she just received.   Callie must leave school and return home to help her family run Three Oaks, a sixty-five thousand acre cattle ranch, that was completely surrounded by the Blackthorne's 745,000-acre ranching empire known as Bitter Creek Cattle Company, because her brother, Sam Creed, had just been paralyzed during football practice when he was tackled by Trace's younger brother, Owen Blackthorne.

During the reading of this book, it was occasionally necessary to refer back to this prologue because of the way Callie placed the blame for their failed relationship firmly upon Trace's wide shoulders.   It didn't make sense that Callie would blame Trace for the failed relationship, because Trace kept trying to get Callie to turn to him and she choose her family.
" I want to be there with you, Callie.   At the hospital, I mean.   I guess there was never going to be an easy way to let our families know we're a couple.   But I don't want you to have to go through this alone.   We might as well tell your father now that we don't intend to let this insane feud of his with my dad separate us ever again."   (Trace, page 5)
. . .  
"I can't abandon my family, Trace.   They need me."   (Callie)
"I need you, too."   (Trace)
"Not as much as they do."   (Callie, page 6)
. . .
"Callie," he murmured in her ear.   "I need you.   Let me go home with you.   We can make your father understand.   Give us a chance, sweetheart.   Please."   (Trace, page 7)
. . .
"I can't.   I'm sorry.   It's over."   (Callie, page 8)
. . .
"You're the one pushing me away, Callie.   You're the one afraid to take a chance.   Remember that."   (Trace, page 10)
Callie's pregnancy was revealed right after Trace walked out of her dorm room.   And then their story begins eleven years later.

Before Trace and Callie could meet again, though, Johnston had to began peeling back the layers that made up Callie's personality.   To explain to readers (romance readers, mind you) why Callie would make such an asinine decision.   What woman in her right mind would give up the man she loved?   Especially after that man declared his love and his desire to be a helpmate.

Johnston is a master at revealing the personalities of her characters as they interact throughout the story.   It began to make sense why, eleven years ago, Callie was afraid to let Trace go to the hospital with her and explain to her father they were a couple.

Callie's father, Jesse Creed, was introduced spewing forth his virulent hatred of all things Blackthorne, particularly Trace's father, Jackson "Blackjack" Blackthorne, when Texas Ranger, Owen Blackthorne, showed up at Three Oaks to tell Jesse that the probability of finding the four extremely valuable fillies that had been stolen from a Three Oaks pasture was extremely doubtful because they had not been branded.   Callie couldn't help but agree with her father that Blackjack was behind the thefts because the only way to access Three Oaks was across Blackthorne land.   Thus, an aura of suspense was added to the story.   It was impossible not to wonder (along with Jesse and Callie) if Blackjack was responsible for this very obvious inside job.

Jesse's hatred of the Blackthorne's was vocal, corrosive and had been pummeled into the minds of his family, including ten year old Eli Munroe, Callie's son, who was just as outspoken as his grandfather.   Eli believed he was the son of Nolan Monroe, the Three Oaks wrangler who had married Callie when she returned home from college.   Eli had begun acting out ever since his 'father' had died of colon cancer a year ago.   It is obvious that Trace and Eli are unaware of their relationship and that when both discover their ties, Callie is going to find herself in very hot water.

Again, Johnston displayed her skill at weaving a vivid tapestry that revealed the various threads that make up the traits of her characters.   As Johnston wove the threads of Trace into the story, it became apparent to readers why he was unable to understand Callie's unwavering loyalty and dedication to her family.   Trace had only returned to Bitter Creek, Texas to say goodbye to Blackjack, who had suffered a heart attack.   Trace was re-introduced sitting at Blackjack's desk, telling his best friend, Dusty Simpson, that Blackjack was buying out his ranch, Rafter S, because Dusty couldn't make the payments.   Trace exhibited his hated of doing Blackjack's bidding by offering Dusty a job managing the quarter horse operation he was going to establish -- whether his father gave it his stamp of approval or not.   It was obvious that Trace had no desire to endure the rule of his autocratic father.   The lack of any unity in the Blackthorne family became even more evident after meeting Trace's mother, Eve DeWitt Blackthorne, an extremely talented artist, but a woman who treated her children with no care or concern.

It is impossible not to admire the way that Johnston plots her stories.   In this book, for instance, she has introduced the two protagonists, revealed their vastly different belief systems (based on the way they were raised) and begins to set a chain of events into motion to bring Trace and Callie together in a manner that is sure to elicit conflict.

The stage was set for the Blackthorne family to run into the Creed family at the Rafter S auction.   Whereupon, Trace viewed two shocking and emotionally jarring sights.   Not only did he receive a jolt when he saw Callie for the first time in eleven years, but he saw the look of longing and despair that passed between his father and Callie's mother, Lauren "Ren" Creed.   Thus, Johnston has successful roped readers in.   You can't help but want to continue reading this book -- and this series -- if only to learn what happened between Blackjack and Ren . . . and why they were married to other people.

Johnston created confusion when Trace and Callie interacted the first time.   Callie was defiant, resentful, and angry because Trace had left her.
She wanted to hurt him with the knowledge of all he had missed by leaving her behind.   (Callie, page 58)
It was impossible not to turn back to the prologue and scan it to see if Callie was off her rocker.   Wasn't she the one who turned her back on Trace?   Yep, there it is in black and white:
"I can't.   I'm sorry.   It's over."   (Callie, page 8)
This was the one part of the story that just didn't make sense.   Callie turned her back on Trace, married Nolan, and when Trace returns after eleven years, she blames him for their breakup.   As problems continued to plague Three Oaks, Callie continued to stand on her "I'm the only one who loves Jesse and Three Oaks enough to keep it out of the hands of that greedy, mean-spirited man, Jackson Blackthorne" soapbox.   And while the book was well-written and an enjoyable, entertaining read, this staunch stand by Callie added an irritating, "you're not being honest with yourself" quality to the personality of the heroine.   Rather than come across as the strong-willed, determined, successful heroine to be admired, it was easy to want to bop Callie over the head and say, quit being an idiot and say yes to your soulmate.

Although Trace did not get as much time in a point of view voice, Johnston painted a picture of a steadfast man who know who he was.   And, yes, while he actually did take for granted being born rich and privileged, he did not ride his father's coattails to achieve success.   Trace was the kind of hero romance readers dream of.   Who could not help but admire a man who professed his love for the heroine as he undauntingly pursued her -- and made every effort to take care of her.   If Trace had not been persistent in his pursuit of Callie, there would have been no reconciliation.

And if Trace did not melt your heart and cause you to fall in love with him by the way he always came to Callie's rescue (even though there were some sexual strings tied to his offers), the interaction between Trace and Callie's two children, Eli and little four year old Hannah, would cause you to tumble into the tunnel of love.   Johnston did a fantastic job of including some well-written, personality revealing scenes between Trace and Eli and Hannah that depicted what an awesome father Trace would make.   Johnston's skill at revealing the mimicry of a four-year-old, who parroted everything she heard (no matter who spoke), was a priceless addition throughout the entire book.

As the story progressed, Johnston also began to reveal the personality of Eli and how he came to accept Trace as an honorable man who should be admired instead of hated, as per his grandfather's edits.   Johnston's talent was evident as Eli slowly progressed from a defiant, angry boy into an astute little man who responded to the care, reprimands, and attention bestowed upon him by a caring father figure.

It was a good thing that Callie was so resistant to opening her heart back up to Trace (even though any romance reader worth her salt knew that Callie had never stopped loving Trace), because then the story would have ended too soon and Johnston wouldn't have been able to develop the personalities of the secondary characters that added a variety of bold, vibrant colors to the tapestry of this story.   One of Johnston's great skills as an author is to develop the personalities of her secondary characters to such a degree that they inspire great interest and cause the reader to want to continue reading future books in the hope that Johnston will tell their story.

The two characters that generated the greatest interest in learning their backstory were also two of the most under-developed major secondary characters in the book.   Blackjack stayed mostly in the background during the telling of his eldest son's story, but when he stepped up to the plate to say his lines, he was a bigger-than-life man who inspired awe, fear, trepidation, and a desire to know what made him tick.   Yes, it was revealed that Blackjack was in a bad marriage, having chosen a woman who brought him fifty thousand acres of good grassland to the marriage instead of marrying the woman he loved.

Lauren "Ren" Creed, Callie's persevering mother, was the other major secondary character that stayed in the shadows of the story.   When she crept from those shadows it was to reveal that her daughter had followed in her footsteps -- marrying one man for expediency but not the man of her heart and soul.   Johnston wrote a powerfully moving scene between mother and daughter revealing the anguish in both their hearts.
"We might very well have lost Three Oaks without your help."   Her mother's eyes focused on her hands, which were knotted in her lap.   She glanced up at Callie and asked, "Do you regret the choice you made?"

Callie was startled by the question.   "You're the one who taught me about sacrifice.   I learned it at your knee.   How could I not stay and help?"   (Lauren and Callie, page 225)
By the time this book came to a close, it was obvious that the story between Jackson and Ren was unfinished.   Johnston cleverly set the King and Queen of this chessboard into positions that suggest they just might get together after all.   But, it was also obvious that Jackson and Ren were going to have to become involved in a very intense game if they want to pursue a future together.

Two other important secondary characters were introduced into the book that were, again, minimally developed, but they drew such profound interest that it will be impossible not to pick up the second book of the series (The Texan) and read Owen Blackthorne's and Bayleigh "Bay" Creed's story.   Johnston gave Owen a brief point of view voice and revealed so many things about this man, who has had a very troubled life, that he already wormed his way into the soft heart of the reader.   It must have been so difficult for Owen to approach Jesse Creed to discuss the theft of his horses, knowing how much Jesse hated him, first because he was Blackjack's son and second because he was the boy who tackled Jesse's now paraplegic son.   Johnston did a phenomenal job of revealing that Owen was an honorable, compassionate man, who carried scars inflicted by {1} the accident that paralyzed Sam Creed and {2} the cold dislike directed at him by his mother.

Bay, was no lightweight either.   She only appeared on the pages of the book for a very short time, but when she did, she popped.   Bay, who spent most of the book at Texas A&M University studying veterinary medicine, walked up to Owen and cut him no slack.
She made a disgusted sound and shook her head and then spoke slowly and carefully, as though to an idiot.   "It's someone who works for your father.   It shouldn't be too hard to figure it out.   Who's been with him the longest?   Who'd do whatever he was ordered to do, no questions asked?   Who'd die before he'd betray your father to the authorities?"   (Bayleigh to Owen, page 163)
Oh yes, there are going to be some sparks flying between Owen and Bay in The Texan.   Johnston painted a powerfully moving picture of these two strong-willed, determined, driven people who are surely going to win readers' hearts.

Johnston did not fail to paint a realistic picture of the person that Sam Creed had become.   Sam is portrayed as a despondent drunk, who is nothing but a weight on the shoulders of his already beleaguered family.   Trace, however, is not going to continue to let Sam remain an invalid.
You can sit in this room the rest of your life and feel sorry for yourself, or you can go to work.   The choice is yours."   (Trace to Sam, page 286)
Again, Johnston has prompted readers to continue reading the series to see what is going to happen to Sam Creed, who did, in fact, step up to the plate and became a participating member of society.   Incurable romantics can not help but hope that there is a woman out there who is perfect for Sam.

Two other secondary characters were added to the book so Johnston could begin fleshing out their personalities so that readers will want to read the third book in the series, The Loner.   "Bad" Billy Coburn and Summer Blackthorne appear just often enough to reveal their lifestyles more than their respective temperaments.   Summer is revealed as Trace's eighteen year old sister, the only Blackthorne daughter, and a young girl who loves Bitter Creek and despairs because her father, who she has wrapped around her little finger, will probably never give her a chance to run the ranch.

It is obvious that Summer has a tender place in her heart for "Bad" Billy Coburn, whose development is so minimal that all readers know about him is that {1} he comes from the dirt poor side of town, {2} he may be a mean drunk like his father, Johnny Ray Coburn, and {3} he is a relative of Lauren Creed, whose maiden name is Coburn.   (Having read Comanche Woman, the second book in The Sisters of the Lone Star Trilogy, and meeting Long Quiet (aka, Walker Coburn) and Bayleigh Stewart, Billy's ancestors, it was with sadness to see the level to which Long Quiet and Bayleigh's descendants have dropped.)

One other marginally developed secondary character that appeared often on the pages of the book was Callie's sixteen year old brother, Luke Creed.   Luke probably didn't come across as all that vivid because he was delegated to the role of a typical, in the way teen, who tried to help his family the best that he could.   Johnston, however, does have plans for Luke because he will star in the fourth book of the series, The Prize.

Several other minor secondary characters were introduced to keep the story line moving and to support the details that Johnston revealed to readers about the history of cutting horse competitions that took place in the background of the story.   Dusty Simpson was introduced as Trace's best friend and was one of the few men who'd ridden a horse in the finals of the Futurity, the Stakes, and the Derby (the triple crown of cutting horse competitions).   Dusty's wife, Lou Ann Simpson, was introduced as Callie's best friend and was a notorious gossip.   These two characters were relevant to the story because Trace hired Callie to train and ride Smart Little Doc, Dusty's three-year-old stud, that Trace bought and entered in the NCHA World Championship Futurity to be held in December.

Johnston tied this series to the characters that she created in The Sisters of the Lone Star Trilogy.   Brief descriptions of the three Stewart sisters were mentioned during the telling of the story.   Sloan Stewart of Texas Woman, Bayleigh Stewart of Comanche Woman, and the ancestor to both the Creed family and the Blackthorn family, Creighton Stewart Creed Blackthorne of Frontier Woman.   Knowing this series was somehow tied to the Stewart sisters was the reason for re-reading The Sisters of the Lone Star Trilogy before beginning to read The Bitter Creek Series of books.

Johnston did a great job of keeping the romance and sensuality alive in the story as it unfolded.   It was so obvious that Trace and Callie were still in love with the other -- even after being apart for eleven years.   Johnston managed to convey an amazing degree of sensuality and sizzle in the love scenes even though they were not graphically detailed, simply because of the emotional connection she developed between Trace, Callie and the reader.

Several Quick Notes: {1} Liked that veterinarian Dr. Tony Guerrero made a cameo appearance in the book to indicate to readers that Cruz and Sloan Guerrero's descendants were still around.   {2} Disliked the rushed ending.   Maybe if Johnston had cut out some of Callie's firm stance on standing by her family rather than her man, the ending could have been more detailed and exciting -- the kind of action intensive, suspenseful finale that ends a good book.

Basically, Joan Johnston has started The Bitter Creek Series with a bang.   The Cowboy was a thoroughly entertaining, entrancing read that any reader of Contemporary Romance books would certainly enjoy.   The book featured: {1} Trace Blackthorne, a bigger-than-life, determined, 'I know who I am' alpha hero who pursued his heroine with love and care; {2} Callie Creed Munroe, a heroine so loyal to her family that she choose to serve them over the love of her life; {3} several action scenes were thrown in to keep the story exciting; {4} a strong emotional connection developed between the reader and the characters which lead to tears; {5} the feeling of romance permeated every corner of the story; {6} the well-written love scenes sizzled with sensuality; {7} an aura of suspense kept the reader guessing; and {8} extraordinarily interesting secondary characters were introduced: {a} Jackson "Blackjack" Blacktorne; {b} Eve DeWitt Blackthorne; {c} Owen Blackthorne, {d} Summer Blackthorne; {e} Jesse Creed, {f} Lauren "Ren" Coburn Creed; {g} Sam Creed; {h} Luke Creed; {i} Bayleigh "Bay" Creed; {j} Eli Munroe; {k} Hannah Munroe; and {l} "Bad" Billy Coburn.   This book will remain on my 'To Be Re-Read' List.
--Vonda M. Reid (Wednesday, November 26, 2014 : 7:32 p.m.)     [349]

Books In The Series: "The Bitter Creek Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.02-2000The CowboyTrace Blackthorne: eldest sonCallie Creed: eldest daughter
  secondary story:Jackson "Blackjack" Blackthorne: family patriarchLauren "Ren" Creed: family matriarch
02.03-2001The TexanOwen Blackthorne: Texas RangerBayleigh "Bay" Creed: veterinarian
  secondary story:Jackson "Blackjack" Blackthorne: family patriarchLauren "Ren" Creed: family matriarch
  secondary story:'Bad' Billy Coburn: dirt poor, town bad boySummer Blackthorne: spoiled little rich girl
03.03-2002The LonerBilly Coburn: dirt poor, town bad boySummer Blackthorne: spoiled little rich girl
  secondary story:Jackson "Blackjack" Blackthorne: family patriarchLauren "Ren" Creed: family matriarch
  secondary story:Sam Creed: eldest sonEmma Coburn: Billy's sister
04.03-2003The PriceLuke Creed: Houston D&B attorneyAmelia "Amy" Hazeltine Nash: his high school sweetheart
  secondary story:Drew Dewitt: Houston D&B attorneyGrayson Choate: Houston D&B attorney
05.09-2004The RivalsDrew DeWitt: wealthy playboySarah Barndollar: Teton County Deputy Sheriff
  secondary story:Clayton "Clay" Blackthorne: U.S. Attorney GeneralElsbeth "Libby" Grayhawk: back-country guide
06.09-2005The Next Mrs. BlackthorneNorth Grayhawk: Texas and Wyoming rancherJocelyn Montrose: socialite
  secondary story:Jack McKinley: former NFL quarterback, playboyKatherine "Kate" Grayhawk: UT freshman
  secondary story:Clayton "Clay" Blackthorne: new Federal JudgeElsbeth "Libby" Grayhawk: wilderness guide
07.07-2007A Stranger's GameBreed Grayhawk: FBI AgentGrace Caldwell: framed for murder
  secondary story:Jack McKinley: Texas RangerKatherine "Kate" Grayhawk Pendleton: mother of twins
08.01-2010ShatteredWyatt Shaw: billionaireKatherine "Kate" Grayhawk Pendleton: physical therapist
  secondary story:Jack McKinley: Texas RangerHolly Gayle Tanner McKinley: pediatric oncologist
09.04-2012Texas Bride [1]Jacob "Jake" CreedMiranda Wentworth
10.01-2013Wyoming Bride [1]Flint CreedHannah Wentworth McMurty
10e03-2014A Bitter Creek Christmas. . .. . .
11.01-2014Montana Bride [1]Karl NorwoodHetty Wentworth
12.05-2014SinfulConnor Flynn: widower, Delta ForceEve Grayhawk:
[1]   These books are listed as a Historical Romance Sub-Series entitled "The Mail Order Brides".

Characters Found In "The Cowboy"
Character Description
Trace Blackthorne[Hero] features were too angular to be handsome; a slash of mouth, a blade of nose; hint of rough, dark beard; ice blue eyes; ruthless eyes; predatory eyes (1) big hands (2) University of Texas at Austin (3) powerful, rangy body; lean frame, ropey with muscle; chest covered with black hair (6) took heritage and financial security for granted; grew up as young prince in his family's Texas kingdom (8) had father's crow-wing black hair; honest; fair; loving; eldest son (9) // 4 years older than Callie; 33-y-o (26) strong chin stubbled with beard; looked dark and dangerous (68) rough and calloused fingertips (69) nose had a bump on the bridge that hadn't been there in college; had a new scar running through his left eyebrow; sun and wind had etched lines around his eyes and mouth (69) shoulders seemed broader and his body looked even leaner and harder than when he was a younger man (70) powerful body moved with lithe grace over the ground (188) Australian cattleman (269)
Callie Creed Monroe[Heroine] University of Texas at Austin (3) had learned early to make do, to cut corners, to bargain and plead and placate; treasured her home at Three Oaks; eldest daughter; given the most responsibility (9) 18-y-o (10) // 18 + 11 = 29-y-o (11) married Nolan Monroe (16) a widow (17) tawny hair; sky-blue eyes; bowed, pouty lips (26) 28-y-o (30) lived a reasoned, cautious, carefully considered existence (30) delicate lines at the corners of her eyes hadn't been there 11-y-a; full breasts (49) slim waist; trim hips (50)
. . .. . .
Blackthorne[No Appearance] conniving Englishman that stole everything the Stewart sisters owned (172)
Alexander Blackthorne[No Appearance] distant cousin of Trace's; lived in Queensland, Australia (269) got stove up in riding accident 2 months before Trace arrived; wife left him; 2 sons died; died of kidney infection 18-mo-a; willed his 2,300 square mile cattle station to Trace (270)
Clay Blackthorne[No Appearance] [Hero of The Next Mrs. Blackthorne / Book 6] Trace's brother; Owen's twin; had created a life for himself that didn't tie him to Bitter Creek; had recently been elected, at age 30, the youngest Attorney General of the State of Texas (16) attended Texas A&M University in College Station (36)
Eve DeWitt Blackthorne[Secondary Character] Trace's mother; had never been the sort of PTA mom who consorted with other parents and knew the names of her children's friends; spent her days and nights producing the most beautiful oil paintings in her upstairs studio (20) total dedication to her work; produced unique art; her paintings had been hung in some of the finest galleries in the country (21) brought 50 thousand acres of good grassland to marriage (24) short-cropped blond hair (153) ignored Owen, favored Clay (154) distracted; didn't treat Trace with any kindness, consideration, or concern (250) distracted; disconnected; bewildered by what was going around her (328)
Jackson Blackthorne[Secondary Character] Trace's father; king of his world; known as Blackjack or Boss; hair as black as a crow's wing; liked to gamble, usually won -- by fair means or foul (8) would not relinquish the day-to-day running of Bitter Creek Cattle Company to Trace (9) // heart attach 3-mo-a; held a tight rein on everything Trace did at ranch (12) ruthless (13) tall man; broad in the chest; an imposing figure with flinty gray eyes that had a way of staring right through a man; had a head full of thick black hair, most of which was hidden beneath an expensive Resistol with a Buster Welch double crease in the crown (19) married 33 years; didn't get along with wife (25) 54-y-o (341)
Owen Blackthorne[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of The Texan / Book 2] Trace's brother; tacked Sam at football practice (5) twin to Clay; created a life for himself that didn't tie him to Bitter Creek; a Texas Ranger (16) had the tall, lanky look of all the Blackthorne men, along with a shock of black hair and piercing gray eyes (33) attended Texas A&M University in College Station (36) stoic face; gray eyes unreadable (155)
Summer Blackthorne[Secondary Character] [Heroine of The Loner / Book 3] Trace's sister; rebellious; managed to get herself kicked out of every university Blackjack had insisted she attend and was home raising hell until Blackjack could make yet another generous contribution to some institution of higher learning (16) natural curly blonde hair; tailored Western shirt; skin-tight jeans (27) had father wrapped around her little finger; candid hazel eyes (28)
George Carpenter[One Appearance] Trace's godfather; attended Museum of Fine Arts gala in Houston; white hair; dressed plainly but elegantly (108)
Marla Carpenter[One Appearance] Trace's godmother; attended Museum of Fine Arts gala in Houston; white hair; dressed plainly but elegantly (108)
"Bad" Billy Coburn[Rare Appearances] [Hero of The Loner / Book 3] Emma's brother; known troublemaker (67) Bitter Creek ranch hand; expert with a rope (82) black hair needed a cut, and his tieless shirt wasn't ironed. The extra shirt cuff showing at each sleeve revealed that he had long outgrown the suit jacket. His face was cut in hard planes, and there was a wild, feral look in his eyes (167) reminded Callie of a young James Dean; black hair lay in waves beneath the brim of his hat; dark brown eyes glittered with defiance; there was something raw and animalistic about his sharply defined features that appealed to her as a woman; heavy lidded gaze (178)
Dora Coburn[One Appearance] Billy's mother; brown hair stuck in a bun at her crown (85)
Emma Coburn[One Appearance] 14/15-y-o; 6' tall; skinny as a bed slat; red hair (67)
Johnny Ray Coburn[No Appearance] Emma's father; Billy's father; known troublemaker (67)
Bayleigh "Bay" Creed[Brief Appearance] [Heroine of The Texan / Book 2] Callie's sister; attending Texas A&M University; studying veterinary medicine (40) pretty; auburn hair (159) slip of a girl who didn't even reach Owen's shoulder; wore her auburn hair in a ponytail, with the fringe of bangs that made her look like a teenager; 23/24-y-o; nose dotted with freckles that added to the illusion of youth; wariness in eyes that spoke of distrust; eyes the purple blue of bluebonnets (160) helicopter pilot (169)
Creighton Stewart Creed [No Appearance] [Heroine of Frontier Woman] Callie's ancestor; grew upon on plantation called Three Oaks; married Jarrett Creed; went to live with Sloan during the Civil War (172)
Jacob "Jake" Tyler Creed[No Appearance] [Hero of Texas Bride / Book 9] Callie's ancestor; Southern Major; rebuilt Three Oaks after the original house burned down (39) Jarrett and Creighton Stewart's eldest son; only survivor among father and brothers to return from Civil War; built himself a home on the comparatively small piece of land along Bitter Creek that was all he had left of his inheritance (172)
Jarret Creed[No Appearance] [Hero of Frontier Woman] Callie's ancestor; Texas Ranger; married Creighton Stewart; raised family of four sons on plantation called Lion's Dare (172)
Jesse Creed[Secondary Character] Callie's father (25) jealous of Blackjack's romance with Ren in their youth (45) notoriously jealous (128)
Lauren "Ren" Coburn Creed[Major Secondary Character] Callie's mother; always making sacrifices (41) a Coburn before married Jesse (166) long auburn hair; looked young and pretty (212) gray-green eyes (213) had collection of belt buckles from winning national cutting horse competitions (287)
Luke Creed[Secondary Character] [Hero of The Price / Book 4] Callie's teenaged brother (40) 16-y-o (41)
Sam Creed[Secondary Character] Callie's brother; paralyzed (2) broke neck during football practice; hit hard, came down wrong (5) // Callie's eldest brother (31) embittered, antisocial alcoholic; becoming computer whiz, did ranch paperwork when sober (37) brown eyes (39) had been wide receiver for Bitter Creek Coyotes (43) used to have sense of humor and strong back (116) broad shoulders were just as broad, his arms even more powerfully muscled, in the buttoned-up white, long sleeve shirt; lank brown hair hung 2" over his collar; cheeks and chin were hidden by an untrimmed, reddish-brown beard; look dissipated, unkempt, uncaring (158)
Henry Featherstone[No Appearance] the boy that took Callie went to her prom (96)
Freckles Fancy[Animal] one of the mares that had been stolen from Three Oaks (322)
Gloriana[One Appearance] Rosalita's younger sister; hired by Trace to look after Hannah (293)
Charles Goodnight[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] cattleman and nineteenth-century trailblazer (20)
Dr. Tony Guerrero[One Appearance] vet who found the brucellosis in Creed cattle (177)
Russell "Russ" Handy[One Appearance] Bitter Creek segundo; middle-aged cowboy who had been Blackjack's right hand man as long as Trace could remember (136) perfect mix of deferential cowboy and authoritative leader; could have been any age from 30 to 50; looked like most working cowboys, lean and wiry, with skin tanned to leather by the sun; had a thick mustache trimmed to the edge of his lips, a straight, thin nose, and eyes so dark brown they looked black in the shadow of the straw Stetson he'd pulled low on his forehead (138) Eve's lover (327)
Governor Pete Hanson[One Appearance] governor of Texas; attended Museum of Fine Arts gala in Houston; friends with Trace (110)
Harriet[One Appearance] Houston manicurist Trace hired to do Callie's nails for their date (103)
Hector[One Appearance] Bitter Creek ranch hand; watching fight between Billy Coburn and Luke Creed (77)
Hickory Angel[Animal] description of horse Callie planned to bid on at auction (59)
Coach Kuykendall[No Appearance] coach of Bitter Creek Coyotes when Owen Blackjack and Sam Creed played (158)
Maria[One Appearance] worked in the Blackthorne's kitchen (245)
Harvey Miller[One Appearance] local field inspector; burgeoning belly; wore a TSCRA badge framed in leather; would not cut Callie any slack when her cattle were diagnosed with brucellosis (180)
Eli [Munroe][Major Secondary Character] Trace and Callie's 10-y-o son; tall for his age but rail thin, with narrow shoulders and big feet he had yet to grow into; eyes were the same sky blue as Callie's; his sharp cheekbones and square jaw and slash of mouth were all Blackthorne (34) more defiant since Nolan's death (40) cowlick in short black hair (50) shoved the hair off his brow with the same thrust of his hand as Trace; rubbed his chin when he was thinking just like Trace (297)
Hannah Munroe[Major Secondary Character] Nolan and Callie's 4-y-o daughter (39) tiny, cherubic face (43) fine blond curls (50) serious gray-green eyes (196)
Nolan Monroe[No Appearance] Callie's husband; Creed wrangler; 20 years older than Callie (16) died of colon cancer (35) kind; gentle; unwavering support (38)
Rosalita[One Appearance] Mexican woman who worked for Blackthorne's; looked after Trace when he was young; going to look after Eli and Hannah (214)
Dusty Simpson[Secondary Character / Frequent Appearances] one leg amputated above the knee (11) Trace was best man at his wedding; Trace was godfather to his 2 daughters (11) unable to compete in the arena on a cutting horse and thus unable to pay the mortgage on his ranch (12) lost leg in car accident (13) one of the few men who'd ridden a horse in the finals of the Futurity, the Stakes, and the Derby (the triple crown of cutting horse competitions); sandy-colored stubble on his chin; knew more about quarter horse confirmation than any man in South Texas (15) brown eyes (17) shaggy, dust-colored hair; Trace's friend (18) black Chevy Silverado (21)
Frannie Simpson[No Appearance] Dusty and Lou Ann's daughter (92)
Lou Ann Simpson[Brief Appearances] Dusty's wife (12) best friends with Callie since high school (89) notoriously bad at keeping secrets (91)
Sallie Simpson[No Appearance] Dusty and Lou Ann's daughter (92)
Slim[One Appearance] Bitter Creek ranch hand; watching fight between Billy Coburn and Luke Creed (77)
Smart Little Doc[Animal] Dusty's three-year-old stud; going to auction; signed up for that NCHA World Championship Futurity (18) intelligent look in his eyes; dance in his steps suggested he was something special (188)
Bayleigh Stewart[No Appearance] [Comanche Woman] Creighton Stewart's sister (172)
Sloan Stewart[No Appearance] [Texas Woman] Creighton Stewart's sister; widowed; lived at Dolorosa (172)
Sugar Pep[Animal] Callie's cutting horse; entered in Futurity (274)
Wally Tippet[No Appearance] owned the Bitter Creek feed store (285)
Wanda[One Appearance] Houston hairdresser Trace hired to do Callie's hair for their date (103)
Buster Welch[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] had long since retired from competitive cutting; was about the best cutter alive; many a cowboy had emulated the way he creased his hat; received the Charles Goodnight Award (20)
Whitey[One Appearance] Bitter Creek ranch hand (48)

Locations, Organizations Found In "The Cowboy"
Location / Organization Description
Bitter Creek Cattle CompanyJackson Blackthorne's ranch and business (9) hundreds of thousands of acres of South Texas ranch land that some noble English ancestor had won on a bet (16)
Bitter Creek Coyoteshigh school football team (44)
Bitter Creek First National BankJackson and Eve Blackthorne served on board (19)
Bitter Creek Regional HospitalBitter Creek's hospital (206)
Bobbie Jo's Cafewhere Callie said she would meet Trace for their date (77)
the Castle30,000 square foot house where Blackthornes lived (243)
Dolorosavast Southwest Texas ranch where Sloan Stewart lived (172)
Hobby International AirportHouston airport where Callie and Trace landed when went on date (99)
Houston Museum of Fine Artswhere Trace took Callie on a date (77)
Lion's Dareplantation where Jarrett and Creighton Creed raised family of four sons (172)
Matamoros, Mexicowhere Callie and Trace married in secret in (305)
Queensland, Australia location of 2,300 square mile cattle station that Alexander Blackthorne willed to Trace (270)
Rafter SDusty and Lou Ann Simpson's ranch (13)
Texas Animal Health Commissionerthe man that Callie would have to appeal to regarding her cattle being diagnosed with brucellosis (181)
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers AssociationJackson Blackthorne was president (176)
Three OaksCallie's home (9) a virtual island, 65,000 acres of rich Creed grassland completely surrounded by 745,000 acres of fenced Blackthorne property; only one way in or out, a single easement that wound across Bitter Creek ranch (31) description of property layout (127)
Will Rogers Memorial Complexwhere Smart Little Doc was competing in the Futurity (356)

"The Cowboy" Quotations
118If you didn't ask, you didn't have to deal with being turned down.   You didn't leave yourself feeling helpless and hopeless and defeated.   (Callie)
200No one had ever needed him.   (Trace)
334 I need you, Callie.   There's an empty place inside me that only you can fill."   (Trace)

"Joan Johnston -- The Cowboy" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Joan Johnston's WebsiteAuthor
----Joan Johnston's FacebookAuthor
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D / Warm02-10-2000All About Romance--Liz Zink / well-written review, but disagree
4.20 average{55 reviews}Amazonas of: November 26, 2014
4.50 average{65 ratings}Barnes & Nobleas of: November 27, 2014
----Fantastic FictionList of Joan Johnston's Books
----Fict FactList of Books In The "Bitter Creek" Series
----Fiction DBList of Joan Johnston's Books
Article06-24-2014Fresh FictionJoan Johnston -- The Challenges of Writing a Series
4.04 average{1,395 ratings}Good Readsas of: November 27, 2014
3.6 average{35 ratings}Library Thingas of: November 27, 2014
43 out of 100--Mrs. Gigglesvery harsh // does this person like any book?
----Order of BooksList of Joan Johnston's Books
4.00 average{161 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: November 27, 2014
4.22 average{10 reviews}Shelfarias of: November 27, 2014
4.7511-27-2014Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating