A Cowboy for Keeps, book one in the Colorado Cowboys series by Jody Hedlund, features Greta Nilsson, her sister Astrid, Wyatt McQuaid, Judd, Landry Steele, and others. In the opening chapters, we see a stagecoach robbery and learn that Greta is a mail-order bride whose fiancé has died before her arrival. The mayor of the town, Steele, proposes a marriage between Greta and Wyatt to protect Greta, grow the town, and help provide an investment for Wyatt. Like in many books, parts of this arrangement between Wyatt and Steele are kept secret, which will cause problems later on for the main characters.
The story begins in August 1862 and continues through the summer and fall. We see the changing of the seasons, the preparation of the land and animals for the upcoming winter, and how the characters grow to like, trust, and rely upon each other. The cabin, which was perfect for just Wyatt and Judd, has improvement needs so that it can more adequately support Greta and Wyatt as a married couple, Astrid, and potentially Wyatt's family. Readers can track great changes in physical ways, as well as in the relationships between the characters and with God, too.
What Do I Think?
I found A Cowboy for Keeps to be a very easy and enjoyable book. It was the perfect book to read while sitting in waiting rooms because I could read a couple of chapters and set it back in my bag till I got home. So while some chapters did end with cliffhangers, I found it easy to stop for a period and then return to reading A Cowboy for Keeps when I had free time.
While there were some parts of the story that I thought might be unnecessary (I understand conflict is necessary, at times, to move a story forward, but after a while, I wish for books with less conflict), I found the story to be very uplifting. Greta is doing whatever is in her power to try to bring Astrid, her younger sister, back to good health. This included her accepting a marriage proposal from not one, but two strangers. I love her strength even though I don't agree with all of her choices and decisions during the story.
Two parts in particular really spoke to me while reading Hedlund's book. I was waiting for one of my mom's medical appointments to be over when I was reading Judd and Wyatt's conversation about trials and problems and then Judd's conversation with Greta. Judd repeated a lesson from his mother and the Good Book: "She always said, we ain't supposed to be surprised when we come against fiery trials. If the Lord suffered, then we gotta expect the suffering too" (229). Wyatt related this to a memory of the Reverend preaching about the three men who had been thrown in the fiery furnace. "The onlookers had seen not three men in the fire, but four. God hadn't taken them out of the fiery trial. He'd walked with them through it" (229). While Judd was speaking with Greta, he reminded her that God wants her to cast her burdens and problems upon Him. God was not disturbed or bothered when Greta prayed. He was waiting for her.
These two instances in A Cowboy for Keeps gave me just what I needed to comfort and encourage my mom after she returned from her medial appointment to the waiting room. I am very familiar with the Scriptures that the characters referenced, it was so helpful to see it presented in this way by Hedlund at that very moment.
I would recommend A Cowboy for Keeps to those who enjoy historical fiction, Christian fiction and romance, stories set in the west or gold mining towns, and those looking for encouragement and inspiration. Jody Hedlund brought characters to life who I would love to learn more about in future books.
If you are looking for more books to read, here are a few reviews of books I have enjoyed:
Book Club: Book Review of At Love's Command