Along Came a Cowboy [Book]

Along Came a Cowboy is a 2008 romance novel by Arkansas writer Christine Lynxwiler, the author of more than a dozen Christian romance novels and repeat winner of the American Christian Romance Writers/American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. Published by Barbour Publishing, an outlet for Christian fiction and devotionals, and subtitled A Romantic Showdown in Small-Town Arkansas, the novel centers upon the unmarried Dr. Rachel Donovan who, thanks to her chairing the Shady Grove Centennial Rodeo Committee, finds herself once again in the company of rodeo star Jack Westwood, whom she knew in her youth. The book features some of the same characters as Promise Me Always, a 2006 novel by Lynxwiler, but is not a direct sequel.

Rachel Donovan is a chiropractor in the fictional small-town Shady Grove, Arkansas, which is located near such communities as Batesville (Independence County) and Cherokee Village (Sharp and Fulton Counties), which are mentioned in the novel. At the beginning of the story, Jack has just recently returned to take over the family ranch located next to Rachel’s parents’ home, and his mother, Alma, has been trying to play matchmaker for the two. However, as Rachel says, “I can’t imagine myself with someone whose belt buckle is bigger than his IQ.”

During an appointment at Rachel’s clinic, the mayor, Ron Kingsley, guilts Rachel into serving on the centennial committee with Alma and Jack, and Ron’s subsequent absence due to a brown recluse bite leaves Rachel stuck on the committee. Conflict erupts immediately when Rachel tries to suggest various ways for making the rodeo safer for participants and viewers. Later that evening, Jack, who volunteers for the county sheriff, comes by Rachel’s house, having picked up her niece, Jennifer, hitchhiking. Jennifer was hitchhiking because she had discovered that she was adopted and was coming to Rachel’s place seeking help finding her biological mother.

As it happens, Rachel is Jennifer’s biological mother, having become pregnant during her senior year of high school. Her father had packed her bags on Christmas Eve and driven her to Georgia, where she could be near her sister, Tammy, who adopted the child in a closed adoption arrangement. Her parents had anticipated that Rachel would come back after the birth, but she did not return to Shady Grove until many years later when she had a chance to buy the local chiropractor’s clinic. Jennifer’s presence brings back a lot of guilt for Rachel: “I’ve read all the scriptures about forgiveness. I’ve prayed for God to forgive me, for my parents to forgive me, and for me to forgive them. But so far, nothing.”

When they were in high school, Rachel and Jack had participated in rodeo events together; she was renowned for barrel racing. However, her experience of ending up pregnant by another rodeo participant, Brett Meeks, had left her distrustful of all cowboy types. Jennifer expresses a rebellious interest in bull riding, meaning that she is spending more time at Jack’s ranch. Jack talks Rachel into doing a barrel racing exhibition to try to encourage Jennifer away from bull riding. Rachel and Jack go on a few dates and start to grow closer, but she then asks that they be only friends for a while.

Rachel is nominated for Citizen of the Year and asks Jack to escort her to the banquet, but he refuses to go as a friend, confessing his love for her instead. Later, while Jennifer is dressing in Rachel’s old clothes, selecting an outfit for the rodeo, Jack comments that she looks enough like Rachel to be her daughter, and Jennifer guesses the truth. She flees the house and is later found at the ranch getting ready to ride a bull before Jack intervenes. In the aftermath, Rachel reconnects with her parents, and she and Jennifer both win their respective barrel racing divisions at the rodeo. Jack and Rachel reconcile, and the epilogue ends at the beginning of their own wedding ceremony.

For additional information:
Along Came a Cowboy.” Squeaky Clean Reviews. (accessed September 15, 2023).

Lynxwiler, Christine. Along Came a Cowboy. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 2012.

Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas


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