Renowned photographer Raif Manning is more than willing to settle down and assume guardianship of his niece and nephews. He’s bought a house near his sister in Kansas, where he intends to raise the children and he’s hard at work restoring the old house into a home.
Sarah fully anticipated arriving at Raif’s home, seeing that the kids are in good hands and signing over full guardianship to him, only when she arrives it’s obvious that the house has been sadly neglected and it’s filthy. There’s no way she can in good conscious leave the children in such conditions. She’s put off this visit and dealing with the legalities involved with guardianship of the kids for three months and now the kids have bonded with Raif and view her as the ‘wicked witch.’ It shouldn’t matter, she’s only there to make sure that they’re being cared for properly.
She has no desire to uproot them from the stability they’ve found with Raif but she isn’t willing to allow them to be raised in such substandard conditions either. Sarah doesn’t learn that Raif had just bought the house until after she goes on her uppity tirade. Sarah’s determined to stick around and watch as he starts to get the house cleaned up and see how he is with the kids but Raif has some stipulations of his own - if she’s going to play social worker then she can stay in the house with them - that way she won’t miss a single thing. Neither of them anticipates the emotional attachment they begin to develop for each other. While Raif knows his desire and affection for her are far beyond just an infatuation, Sarah has a fiancé and life in California that she longs for but she’ll soon discover that her neat and orderly life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct and allow yourself to fall in love - even if you know the man you fall for isn’t going to meet with your father’s approval.
Kelly Wallace tells quite a charming tale with LOVIN' THE COWBOY WAY. At first Sarah struck me as an uppity snob who believes that she knows what’s best for everybody but as I read through the story I began to see the cracks in her persona and found her to be genuinely likeable. Raif is downright brutally honest and that’s something which Sarah isn’t used to with her father or her fiancé. There’s a chemistry present between Sarah and Raif right from their very first meeting that sizzles the pages. Add the emotional factor of deciding the fates of the three children and you have a story that will keep you turning pages anticipating the upheaval that Sarah and Raif experience while trying to maintain a stable front for the kids. This is a wonderful feel good story and while it does have children involved, it’s Sarah who really does a lot of ‘growing up.’ Beautifully written Ms. Wallace.