cover image A Cowboy of Legend

A Cowboy of Legend

Linda Broday. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $8.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9375-8

Broday (Once Upon a Mail Order Bride) squanders a fun premise on a scattered plot in this disappointing series launch. In 1899, Texas, Grace Legend, a fierce advocate for the temperance movement, locks horns with Deacon Brannock while trying to close down his saloon. Deacon, an ex-cowboy, dreams of selling enough liquor to buy land and refuses to be shut down, but his conflict with Grace softens into romance when the two discover a shared interest in helping the vulnerable of Fort Worth. Meanwhile, supposedly committed Grace needs only a lecture from her father to drop her temperance demonstrations, choosing instead to write “scathing articles’’ for the local paper. When the plot refocuses on orphans going missing from the city streets, overwrought descriptions of suffering urchins (“Izzy glanced down at his feet where a big toe protruded from his shoe. ‘Ain’t got no ma. No pa either’ ”) engender more eye rolls than pity. Grace and Deacon’s quest to help these children lacks urgency, sidetracked by Deacon’s attempts to break a mustang, Grace’s rescue of a prostitute, multiple paternity twists, several revelations of murder, and comic scenes involving a trained monkey. Like its do-gooder heroine, this ultimately comes across as well-intentioned but confused. Agent: Gail Fortune, the Talbot Fortune Agency. (Apr.)