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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jesse: Merry Christmas, Cowboy by Lynnette Kent

Jesse: Merry Christmas, Cowboy by Lynnette Kent
(Codys: First Family of Rodeo series)
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (217 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Poppy

First-born son Jesse Cody is proud of his place in the close-knit Cody family. But everything he's worked for is on the line when he falls for Janie Hansen. The alluring former tomboy is the sister of his rival for World Champion Bull Rider…a man who also happens to be the older brother he never knew he had.

Janie has loved Jesse all her life. And one romantic week in December at the National Finals Rodeo tells her he returns the feeling—and then some! She couldn't ask for a better Christmas present than being the sexy cowboy's wife. But the long-buried secret threatening to divide the Codys forever could also tear apart their newfound romance.

When the dust settles, can Jesse step up and prove he's worthy of the Cody name—and Janie's love—not just for the holidays, but forever?

Finally – the ending we’ve been waiting for! In this final book in the Codys: First Family of Rodeo series, we get to see all the loose ends neatly tied. It’s been a long row to hoe, especially for Jesse – the man who thought he was the eldest Cody until it was revealed that Mark (his illegitimate brother) actually came first. This really rankles with Jesse, who’s suddenly unsure of his standing with the family, what his future holds and how he feels about Mark, his father and his mother. It’s all a big mess, and this is what constitutes the conflict in this story.

Janie, Mark’s half-sister, has loved Jesse as long as she can remember. He only thinks of her as his sister’s best friend... and now as the sister of his arch-nemesis. Still, on a trip to Las Vegas with the entire Cody family (which now includes Mark who wants his mother along and so gets Janie, too, since she’s their mother’s caretaker) Jesse suddenly sees Janie in a different, more flattering light.

Interestingly, I didn’t feel like the romance was the most important part of this book, though it certainly figured in significantly. Really, this was Jesse’s book, through and through. We read this story to discover how he would resolve all his conflicted feelings for pretty much everyone. His best friend was now married to Mark, he can’t understand how his mother forgave his father, how his father could stray in the first place and how he is supposed to welcome Mark into the family. Of course, his unwanted, but undeniable feelings for Janie figure into all this confusion.

I found this to be a satisfying conclusion to the series, in part because we get to revisit all the other couples we’ve met along the way and see what’s going on with them. It was good, too, to get inside Jesse’s head. In the previous book he was so angry and I couldn’t always understand why he was so incredibly upset about Mark. The whole family was a little sideways about it, but they were mostly accepting. Jesse was the only one who was downright vitriolic.

Janie was a great character: strong, steady, loving. She’s really got her head on straight and knows what matters in life. She’s a good foil for Jesse’s fiery temper. It was very evident why Jesse felt the way he did for her, even if he didn’t like it.

Jesse: Merry Christmas Cowboy was well written, with a strong plot that, while it didn’t have much conflict, had plenty of heart. I really enjoyed the entire series, and this book was no exception. It won’t stand alone well, but that’s okay – get the entire series and start from the beginning! You won’t be sorry to spend some time with this rodeo family.