The Cowboy Rescues a Bride by Cora Seton
Genres: Cowboys/Western Romance
Ned Matheson is sharing a house with the woman he loves, but he can’t kiss her, or even touch her. In fact, she can barely look him in the face. He knows he needs to be patient; Fila Sahar has been to hell and back as a captive of the Taliban for over a decade. Now she’s safely back on American soil, but her fears hem her in so tightly, she might as well be a prisoner again. If he wants to marry her—or even date her—he’ll have to help her regain her courage. He thinks he’s found the perfect way for her to become a strong, independent woman—he’ll give her a restaurant of her very own to run.
Fila can’t believe she’s finally home, or that a handsome cowboy like Ned cares for her, but before she can give her heart to any man, she has to find the courage to stand on her own two feet. When Ned surprises her with his perfect solution—the restaurant he’s leased and renovated in her name—she’s overwhelmed—with fear, not gratitude. She can barely leave the house, let alone run a business. So when Ned’s father sends them out of town to check on the family’s remote hunting cabin, she’s grateful for the delay.
Ned knows his father hopes this trip will split them up, but he’s determined it will bring them together instead. When disaster strikes, all bets are off. Ned will learn what it’s like to be helpless. Fila will have to recover the courage she lost years ago.
Can they survive the weekend? Or will this trip be their last?
I didn’t like Ned prior to this book! That has happened with most of the Mathesons for whatever reason. One thing is that as you read each of their stores is that they are the way they are for a reason. Ned has dyslexia and has always had a hard time with it which is something that his brother Luke never seems to let him forget. He tells Ned it is his place to do the feed order however, in my opinion that didn’t have the effect that Luke wanted.
“There’s something you could do for me,” Ned said, breaking into her thoughts. “That envelope over there has some information about feed supplements we need to order for the cattle. I don’t have time to look through it today. Think you might take a look? It’d be a help.”
Understanding broke over Fila. He wanted her to read through it because he couldn’t.
It hadn’t taken her long to discover Ned’s secret, once she’d come to live with him. It had been the clue to all that anger and ill-temper everyone else talked about. Ned was a proud man, just like the village men had been back in Afghanistan, and just like them he hated to feel at a disadvantage in any way. Just like many of them, he couldn’t read.
She knew what a man looked like when he couldn’t read but wanted to pretend he did. She’d seen Ned act the same way soon after she arrived on the ranch. It didn’t take long to put two and two together. While many Afghan village men might be illiterate, few American men were. She realized the disadvantage Ned was under. Saw how hard he worked to cover it up.
Understanding his secret made the rest of his behavior easy to decipher. And since she didn’t expect Ned to read, she didn’t inadvertently put him into embarrassing situations.
Fila has had a time of it that is for sure. Her parents were killed and then she was kidnapped and held for ten years. She was born an American citizen but spending ten years away being a captive has changed her. She is scared of her own shadow. Yet with Ned it’s different. He doesn’t push to do more than she can and he buys her a restaurant so she can find her way. Which of course makes her even more nervous. Then you add in the fact thtat Ned’s father hates her and is trying to get her out the way and I mean can the poor girl get a break!
“They took away…everything. My family. My home. My country. They kept…saying I was wrong. Everything I did was wrong. Everything I felt was wrong. Everything I thought was wrong. Until I didn’t know what was wrong or right anymore.” She took a deep, shuddering breath. “It was like being peeled away layer by layer by layer until there was nothing left. Until I became nothing. Until I disappeared. I thought when I came home I’d get it all back again, but—” She shook her head. “There’s nothing to get back. Who I was—” A tear trailed its way down her cheek, despite her best efforts. “It’s gone.” Her voice cracked and she fought for composure, her fingers entwined so tightly together they ached.
Ned didn’t need to know all this. She didn’t want him to know it. The words still spilled from her lips, though. “Now it’s just the same here as it was there. Everything I do is wrong. Everything I say and think and the ways I react. The way I look—it’s all wrong. I don’t fit in here any more than I fit there. They won!” Her voice spiked upward as she put voice to her worst fear.
Ned tried to reach for her, swore when the motion jostled his leg, put down his bowl and finally touched her hand. “They did not win.” His voice was nearly a growl. “You got away from them. You didn’t become one of them. If they’d won you’d have a suicide vest strapped on and be marching into some crowded building. All that’s happening right now is you’re readjusting to coming home. Soldiers go through the same damn thing, you know. That’s what you’re like—a soldier coming home. A prisoner of war.” Fila scraped the wetness from her cheeks with her sleeve. She hadn’t looked at it that way. He touched her again. “You’ve been to war for over a decade. Give yourself time.” He patted her knee. “And for God’s sake, go ahead and scream once in a while. Cry. Throw things. Let it out.”
“By the way,” Ned said casually. “The way you look is not all wrong. You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
Fila quickly darted to the kitchen and spent far more time than necessary spooning more soup for each of them from the pot on the small cook stove. The knowledge that Ned thought she was pretty—beautiful, actually—warmed her all the way through.
There are a few things that I love about this story! First is Ned’s courage to do something about his reading. That isn’t something easily admitted and he has lived with the problem his entire life. Yet he is determined to be more. Second is the way that fate steps in and shows Fila that she is anything but broken and damaged. Ned’s father forces Ned to go deal with an issue at their cabin. He takes Fila with him and then their is one disaster after another where Fila steps up and shows her true self.