Series: Cowboys of California #1
Published by Amazon Digital on February 25, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
In this brand-new series from award-winning author Rebekah Weatherspoon, a charming cowboy and his sleeping beauty find their modern-day happily ever after . . .
With a headline spot on a hit morning show and truly mouth-watering culinary skills, chef Evie Buchanan is perched on the edge of stardom. But at an industry party, a fall lands Evie in the hospital—with no memory of who she is. Scrambling to help, Evie’s assistant contacts the only “family” Evie has left, close friends who run the luxury dude ranch in California where Evie grew up. Evie has no recollection of them—until former rodeo champion Zach Pleasant walks into her hospital room, and she realizes his handsome face has been haunting her dreams . . .
Zach hasn’t seen Evie in years—not since their families conducted a campaign to make sure their childhood friendship never turned into anything more. When the young cowboy refused to admit the feelings between them were real, Evie left California, making it clear she never wanted to see Zach again. Now he refuses to make the same mistake twice. Starting fresh is a risk when they have a history she can’t recall, but Zach can’t bear to let go of her now. Can he awaken the sleeping beauty inside her who might still love him?
Amnesia stories are always a little tricky. They can be done well, but they need to be handled carefully. The amnesia risks becoming a plot device to allow the characters to act ridiculous and conveniently forget some things, but randomly remember other things that would be inconvenient for the author to have to work around. “Who are you? I’ve never seen you before, random stranger, I have amnesia. OMG, this is my favorite Beyonce song!”
Rebekah Weatherspoon did not fall into this trap. When Evie Buchanan develops amnesia after tumbling down some stairs (I’ll leave the exact circumstances to the reader to discover), her assistant contacts Evie’s emergency contact, who happens to be one of a set of brothers Evie grew up with. I think there were 3 brothers? If I had one complaint about this book, it’s that there were so many characters introduced really quickly, and I had trouble keeping track of some of them. There were the Pleasant brothers, Zach, Jesse, and Sam, and I believe Jesse is the oldest and Sam the youngest. There was Leona Lovell, their grandmother, their parents who only appeared via video call, Evie’s assistant, her 2 best friends, some of the people who worked on the Pleasant’s ranch, one of their younger cousins, etc, etc, etc. There were a lot of people. At one point, Evie accidentally sends a text to a group chat instead of just one person, and it took me a second to remember why that would be so embarrassing.
That’s a pretty minor quibble, really, especially in a story that could have gone so wrong. And even though the cast of characters was so big, there were several that stood out made the story so fun to read. Miss Leona, in particular, stole every scene she was in. I would read a book just about her life as a groundbreaking, glass ceiling-smashing Black actress in the 50s and 60s.
But this book was missing some of the Rebekah Weatherspoon spark I’ve come to love so much. Because of Evie’s amnesia, she was, by definition, a blank slate. She didn’t really have a personality, and the little bit we saw of it before her fall down the stairs wasn’t enough to sustain her over the course of the book. Zach, too, was kind of a dud. I could see why Evie fell for him as a teenager, but other than being really hot, I didn’t see anything to attract her to him as an adult. He was just sort of… there. Their relationship felt like it was based more on nostalgia and feeling like they missed out on something as kids, and less on what was happening to them in the current day.
And Zach deciding to sleep with Evie while knowing why they broke up in the first place but not telling her that story was…. iffy for me. Of course he wanted her to get her memory back, but he also seemed to be dreading it a little bit because he was worried how she would react to their whole story. So while I don’t think it fully crossed any lines, I felt like it was deserving of a little side-eye.
The book was well-written, of course – Rebekah Weatherspoon is a really good writer. And I’ll probably read the rest of the series, mainly so I can keep up with Miss Leona. But it won’t replace Rafe or Haven as my top Weatherspoon reads.