Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Cowboy's Cinderella - Carol Arens (HH #1315 - Feb 2017)

His Fair Lady

The only life Ivy Magee has known is aboard a gambling boat. Until cowboy Travis Murphy arrives with the startling revelation that she's inherited a ranch. Ivy must now leave her home behind and put aside her tomboyish ways.

To save the ranch, Travis knows Ivy must marry a wealthy stranger. And if that means teaching her to become a lady, then so be it. Except, being a part of Ivy's transformation makes Travis wish he could be the prince to this unlikely Cinderella!

Good book, that seemed to be a mashup of Cinderella, My Fair Lady and a little bit of The Parent Trap. Ivy has spent most of her life on a riverboat on the Missouri River, raised by her Uncle Patrick. She's led a pretty carefree life, wearing trousers, hanging out with the deckhands, swimming in the river and playing with her pet mouse. That all comes to an end with the arrival of Travis Murphy.

Travis has made his home on the Lucky Clover Ranch for most of his life, raised like a son by the ranch owner. The man has one sickly daughter and a ranch with a huge mortgage on it. Just before he dies, he confesses to Travis that he has another daughter, who went with his wife when they divorced. He plans to leave the ranch to her, in hopes that she will come to Wyoming and marry the wealthy neighbor who can save the ranch. He asks Travis to find her and bring her back. Travis meets Ivy before he discovers who she is. He's immediately taken with her, but once he knows who she is he knows it's hands off.

I liked Travis very much. He is an honorable man, who wants what is best for both Ivy and the people of the ranch. He's very honest with her about what is waiting for her in Wyoming, including an arranged marriage. I loved seeing how he watched over her on their journey, falling for her a little more each day. Once they arrived in Wyoming, he found a teacher for her so she could learn to be the lady she was expected to be. It was sweet to see how he tried to help her ease into her new role.

I mostly liked Ivy. I liked her honesty and her free spirit. I also liked the way that she listened to what Travis told her about the ranch and its problems and weighed all her options before making a decision. She was also very protective of those she cared about. I ached for her homesickness as she left the river and her uncle behind. I had to laugh at some of her opinions as Madame was trying to teach her everything she needed to know. My biggest irritation with how she was portrayed was what felt like overuse of hillbilly type expressions. A little bit of that went a long way.

I really liked that Travis and Ivy first became friends. They had an easy time talking to each other, and Ivy was able to share her fears with him. Their feelings began to deepen, even though they tried very hard to resist. Ivy wanted to be able to follow her feelings, but she knew that she needed to marry William in order to save the ranch. Just the thought of Ivy marrying William made Travis ache inside. They had a couple small moments when their feelings would overcome their common sense, but they always managed to pull back in time. Then a life-threatening occurrence brought it all to the surface and they gave in, but still believed their plans still had to go on. Both Travis and Ivy have decisions to make about their futures. I have to say that I thought Ivy had a lot more courage than Travis did, and I loved seeing what she did. I loved the poker game, which made me grin as I read it, and the swimming scene after was sweet and spicy.

The storyline involving Ivy's twin sister was at times heartbreaking and at others scary or sweet. From the very beginning, Agatha had Ivy's love and protection. It was pretty awesome that Ivy had the nurse's number from the moment they met and that she was determined to protect her sister. I ached for Agatha's fears, and cheered for every step forward that she made. The nurse was definitely creepy, and I loved seeing Ivy get the better of her every time. The final showdown with her was intense, and I felt that she deserved what she got. I'd like to see what happens to Agatha, though I think I have a pretty good idea.

I also liked William. I was prepared not to, since he was going about the whole marriage thing in a very businesslike manner. But he was a really nice man who wanted to treat Ivy well. He was ambitious, but not ruthless or arrogant about it. I wouldn't mind seeing more of him and would like to see him find someone he can love and who will love him back.

I liked Madame, whose job it was to try to teach Ivy more ladylike ways. It wasn't an easy job. She was also pretty clear-sighted about what she saw happening between Ivy and Travis and did her best to keep them on the straight and narrow. I enjoyed seeing her and Ivy grow closer as the book went on. I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing her get her own unexpected happy ending. Ivy's Uncle Patrick was also great. I liked how he took such good care of her growing up, and continued to want to do the right thing for her when Travis showed up. His part in the ending was great.

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