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
. . . . . . . . .. . .
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

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