cover image Big Bad Cowboy

Big Bad Cowboy

Carly Bloom. Forever, $6.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-1-5387-6343-8

In this charming debut, Bloom’s adroit humor animates congenial Big Verde, Tex., where Army veteran Travis Blake has returned to prepare the dilapidated family ranch for sale and take responsibility for his five-year-old nephew. Struggling for funds, landscaper Travis attends a fancy Halloween party thrown by a potential client and is unwittingly smitten with his competition, Maggie Mackey. Wolf-masked Travis and Little Red Riding Hood Maggie share a shatteringly sexy anonymous evening. This leads to spicy text exchanges that contrast with the slowly increasing, sweet intimacy of their in-person relationship. The romance provides support for them both as tough Travis learns to be a tender father and Maggie deals with unexpected difficulties with a close friend. A kindhearted subplot involving a gay character enforces the story’s overt and subtle takedowns of toxic masculinity. Fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips will delight in this funny, optimistic, quirky contemporary. Agent: Paige Wheeler, Creative Media Agency. (Nov.)