The delightful Miss Bates is directly responsible for this one.
Even though I like everything I have read by Ms Bliss, I am not what you would call a ‘devoted fan,’ and so, I was unaware that she wrote this story as part of a three author anthology/book, until I read Miss Bates’ mini-review.
After reading that, what can a reader do?
Go to amazon and one-click it, of course (it was on sale too, so that helped).
Warning: despite the recommendation, the blurb cutesy style almost put me off the story entirely. YMMV, of course.
“Woo Me” by Karina Bliss
This is one of three novellas tied by the friendship/sisterhood of the soul of the three female protagonists, as well as by the venue. The three friends are attending a Outback Bachelor and Spinster Ball, which (seems to me, sitting here almost directly on the other side of the globe), is a very Aussie thing to do. This event provides fertile ground for romance of the HEA variety for them.
Here, have the punny blurb:
Disillusioned in love, Jen Tremaine is done with men. So when her best friends dare her to wear a cow costume to their reunion at an Outback Bachelor and Spinster Ball, she’s all over it. Who would have thought dressing as a heifer would make her irresistible to a bunch of lasso-twirling, drunken cowboys?
Maybe you should have thought this through, says the sexy security guard who keeps finding her at the center of trouble. Even though Jen’s always dismissed soul mates as a load of bull, the sizzle between them is making her wonder: What if you met The One while wandering lonely as a cow? Would you find the courage to become a believer?
When ex-Special Forces soldier Logan Turner is roped into helping out with security at the B&S ball, he isn’t expecting to find love – but after months in all-male company he sure is hoping for lust. He certainly isn’t expecting to fall for a feisty, funny, trouble-making Cowderella. Only problem is, she’s leaving Australia tomorrow. Convincing Jen they can still have a future together may wind up being the toughest mission of his life.
Just so you know, I came very close to deleting this story. I really struggled to finish the first chapter. Between our fearless protagonist thinking of her two friends as “besties” (what are they, twelve?), and the whole, “you will not make me quit, I will not quit, I’m not quitting, you bastard, okay, here’s my two weeks notice,” I was *this* close to throwing in the towel.
However, here’s where the power of a good, consistent reviewer comes it: Miss Bates liked it, and she explained why she liked it, and I trust her enough to plod on through a shaky start. And I was rewarded.¹
Once I got past the first chapter, and just let go of my own baggage at how often women are the ones to give way after a breakup, and how difficult it can be to get a job, let alone make a living from it, I really enjoyed the slightly farcical way in which Logan and Jen first meet; courtesy, in part, to the cow costume.
There are both good people who are at a crossroad in their lives. Logan has just quit/resigned/retired from SAS after serving for over a dozen years. After serving so many tours all in so many dangerous places, and never having a long term relationship, Logan is ready to seize the moment and settle down with the right woman.
Jen is pondering giving up on the idea that, after careful study and consideration, she could have a monogamous committed relationship. Witness the most recent dêbacle with Karl!² Not only is he now back with his ex-wife, Jen’s pretty sure now that at some point he slept with both women.
I enjoyed very much the lightheartedness of the comedic aspects of the story, interspersed with the…well, maturity and honesty of Jen’s and Logan’s more serious conversations. He’s beyond smitten, and willing to do whatever work is necessary to see whether Jen’s is, indeed, the one–and so, he’s upfront with her about his ultimate goal in spending time together. Jen is scared spitless at the idea of being herself–vulnerable, flawed, needy–with anyone, let alone with someone as put together as Logan–and she risks telling him exactly that, as she is struggling with the decision to spend time with him at all.
Where the story hits the second snag, for me, was in the series of misses and misunderstandings that follow their time together. Confession time: this is why I don’t much care for romantic comedies as a rule.
However, I stuck with it, because at that point I did like these two, and I wanted to see how the “she’s moving to another country, today” was addressed. Once again, I’m glad I did, because by the time I was done, I was very willing to believe that, yes, Jen and Logan can make their relationship a rousing, long lasting success.
So, despite my rather deep annoyance at the set up to get Jen to be at the ball, and to have her move away immediately after, I enjoyed “Woo Me” quite a bit. 6.50 out of 10
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¹ by the way, it was quite difficult to write this review, and not making it a brief, “everything Miss Bates said.” I hope I’m providing a slightly different point of view here, even while agreeing with pretty much everything she said.
² (sorry, Miss B, that’s the name in my own copy 😛 )