A Cowboy’s Heart
By J.M. Snyder
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Ranch hand Tommy Prout thinks he’s in love … with his boss, Hal Bolstrum. Problem is, Hal’s engaged to be married to the ranch owner’s daughter and, though he knows of Tommy’s crush, he sees it as nothing more than harmless affection. When payday rolls around and the other cowboys want to ride into town to check out the girls at the Wildhorse saloon, Tommy tags along to throw off any suspicion anyone might have about his feelings for his boss. He sure as hell doesn’t want to spend his money on any of the soiled doves the town has to offer.
At the bar he meets Lila, an enterprising young working girl who takes a liking to him. When Tommy says he wants to be left alone, Lila suggests he rest in her room — with the promise they don’t have to actually do anything. But Lila isn’t like the others, and when she discovers Tommy is more scared of her than attracted to her feminine charms, she lets him in on a little secret.
Lila’s real name is Stephen Marsh. He lives as a woman, moving from saloon to saloon, pleasing men for money. He loves men and enjoys his work, and what others don’t know about what’s under his skirt doesn’t bother him. In all his years on the prairie, he’s never met someone quite like Tommy. When he discovers Tommy is sweet on Hal, he suggests teaching the cowboy just how to please a man.
He doesn’t mean to lose his heart to Tommy in the process.
With “Lila” in his life, Tommy begins to dream of someone softer than Hal, someone pretty when dolled up but still man enough where it counts. Someone like Lila. As his feelings deepen, can he use Lila’s own teachings to win the heart he really loves?
Five thumbs up!
I’m so glad I stumbled across this book because it was an absolutely delightful read! The characterization was well-crafted, and the two main characters, Tommy and Lila, had equal and balanced billing in this out-of-the-ordinary western-themed M/M romance. Bittersweet, sincere, heartwarming, heart-wrenching, and downright romantic, author J.M. Snyder captured the essence of true acceptance and desirability what it means to truly follow your heart. Kudos to the author for building the story around these two’s evolving relationship and not basing the scenes on undue angst and trials. The reader is exposed to what were likely realistic elements of the day – saloon closed down on Sunday, slow weeknights, different ways of courting, old-fashioned entertainment – and it was refreshing to see Tommy treat Lila like a real person. (“I don’t care what I call him, I just love him.”) Lila has always been so lonely, and how Tommy is able to chip away at that is so tender. And flowers? I just smiled.
The sex scenes were so tastefully written, and the author didn’t take advantage of the couple’s intense chemistry and lust, as so easily could have been done, especially during the Sunday afternoon picnic scene. Sometimes leaving it to the reader’s imagination makes the story even more enchanting, and Snyder obviously knew this approach would work. I’m not sure how their story eventually unfolds, but the author’s introduction to a HEA was sweet and rewarding.
Review originally published on Amazon and Goodreads on October 8, 2016.