Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Cowgirl Ropes a Billionaire by Cora Seton

The Basics:

The Cowgirl Ropes a Billionaire by Cora Seton
One Acre Press
A Cowboys of Chance Creek Book
Published November 3, 2013

I received this book via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

Bella Chatham will lose everything – her veterinary practice, her animal shelter, and even her home – if she can’t find another source of income, fast. So when her best friend signs her up for the hot new reality television show, Can You Beat a Billionaire, Bella accepts the challenge and hopes against hope she can win the ten million dollar prize. If she doesn’t, it’s bye-bye pet clinic and shelter, bye-bye Chance Creek, Montana, and hello to marriage to the billionaire for a year! 

Evan Mortimer, billionaire, can’t believe he’s reduced to competing in a television contest to win a wife. Unfortunately, it’s the only foolproof way to secure his position as head of Mortimer Innovations. At least he’ll be able to dump his “spouse” at the end of the year; he’s much too busy to be tied down to a country bumpkin cowgirl. 

Bella doesn’t expect her adversary to be handsome – or funny, or compassionate – but Evan’s all three, and he’s proving a tough competitor, too. When they end up sharing a tent – and a sleeping-bag – her body betrays her with a longing so deep it cuts her to the core. Still, this cowgirl must stay strong. If Evan uncovers her secret fears, he’ll use them to win the contest – and then he’ll own her for a year. She’ll be out of luck, out of cash, and stuck being Mrs. Mortimer until he kicks her to the curb. Too bad she can’t decide which is worse – winning the show and losing Evan forever, or losing the show and only being his temporary wife. 

Evan can’t believe he’s falling for the one woman who doesn’t want him. This cowgirl’s not impressed by his money, his name, or his inability to sleep in a tent with her for an entire night, but every look and touch she gives him sends his desire through the roof. With a director determined to use his claustrophobia to make him look like a fool, and an adversary so sexy he can hardly see straight, he’ll need all his savvy to come out on top. Too bad he’s going to lose no matter how this show turns out. If he beats Bella, he’ll destroy the first woman he’s ever loved. If he doesn’t beat her, it’s bye-bye Mortimer Innovations. 

Will either of them remember in time that it’s not who wins or who loses – it’s how they play the game that really counts?

My Impressions:

This book started off on the wrong foot for me. Bella's best friend has entered her in this reality program without consulting with Bella in advance. Yes, the benefits are clear if she wins, but - hello? Agreeing to the 'married for a year' clause on Bella's behalf without any consultation?  I felt so betrayed by this, for Bella, that I had a hard time enjoying the rest of the novel. It was an unfortunate starting point.

I did, however, like the way in which the reality show was written - there was enough interference from the show runners, plus acknowledgement of the cameras and so on that it felt reasonably authentic, though the ways in which the show was rigged were hard to swallow. There was a certain slipshod feeling to the show's antics.

It was harder to accept how quickly Bella and Evan bonded, but I definitely enjoyed their interplay and the struggles that they faced together. Evan's waffling about how to handle his unexpected reaction to Bella was particularly amusing to me as I could imagine how much fun the show editors had trying to piece together a consistent narrative for the show. 

Bottom Line:

Overall, I enjoyed the journey and was rooting for Evan and Bella to pull through. At the end of a book, if I was at least that much invested in the characters, I can call it a success. Not a *great* romance, but a pretty good one!

3.5 stars
For fans of contemporary romance, reality shows

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