During my free time over the last couple of weeks, I reread Jenna’s Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater. I really enjoyed this book the first time, as I did this time. My sister was surprised I was reading it again since my stack of unread books looms so tall. I must admit, I was a bit surprised myself. The reason I picked up this book again is for research. My current work-in-progress (WIP) deals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a big topic in Jenna’s Cowboy. I wanted to make sure my story didn’t echo the same ideals as Sharon’s. Thankfully, our stories are completely different. (If they weren’t, I would have helped myself to a good dose of rewrites.)
Jenna’s Cowboy is the story of Jenna Callahan Colby, a single mother who is trying to find her way in the world again after her husband left her. When Nate Langley returns from war and takes her up on a job offer, Jenna realizes he’s battle-scarred . . . and just as attractive as he was in high school, if not more so. Nate struggles with PTSD and the effects it has on his mind. In fact, he wonders if he’ll ever remember what normal looks like. Will the two of them discover a way to love each other around the struggles they both face? Or will their fears block the way to their chance at a happy ending?
This story is set in west Texas. It’s neat for me to read stories set in Texas since that’s the state I’m from. Recognizing town names (such as Odessa and Dallas) is always fun, and it means so much more when you’ve been to them. It makes it easier to connect with the story when you know exactly where on the map it takes place. Even more so, when you can draw upon your memories of a place to make it more realistic in your mind.
The character Nate and the difficulties he faced drew up a deep empathy within me. He was so believable, I felt like he was real. My heart really went out to him, especially when Dub told Jenna, “War changes men, honey. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not.” I think having a character in my own story go through similar things (flashbacks and new fears) added to my reading experience this time around. It lent me an even greater understanding of how difficult coming home from war really must be.
Sharon, thank you for such a sweet tale of love and dealing with deep-rooted fears. It touched my heart both times I read it. The Callahans of Texas series remains a go-to for me when I need a comfort read.
To visit Sharon and learn more about her books, please visit her website (http://www.sharongillenwater.com/) or visit her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/#!/sharon.gillenwater2?fref=ts). I know she’ll love hearing from you!
Readers, when you’re in need of a comfort read, which book do you choose?