Book Review: The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper

The Confidential Life of Eugenia CooperIt seems I saved the best book for last in this Back-to-School Fiction blog tour. The plot of The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y’Barbo seems a bit clichéd at first—girl heads west as a governess and falls in love with her employer—but the story was as unpredictable and amusing as the main character herself.

Eugenia Cooper, or Gennie as she prefers to be called, is a huge fan of Mae Winslow, Woman of the West. She keeps her reading tastes to herself, however, for the New York social circles she moves in wouldn’t appreciate either the “penny dreadfuls” or Gennie’s wish for adventure. However, when her parents go to Europe for a month and her maid comes to her with a problem, Gennie has the chance for the adventure she wished for.

In Charlotte Beck, the headstrong and mischievous ten-year-old daughter of mining tycoon Daniel Beck, Gennie finds her adventure. Coddled by her papa, Charlotte is used to getting her own way from those around her. Gennie, however, refuses to give in to the girl’s antics, and begins to lay down the law. There’s a fun case of wrong assumptions as Gennie takes Daniel for a neglectful father and Daniel finds Gennie an overly strict governess—and neither knows who is the stranger they are falling head-over-heels in love with.

Gennie’s spunk throughout the novel impressed me. She might be used to curtseying to royalty, but she isn’t afraid to tackle washing dishes or dusting books. Her ability to shoot and her inability to ride were a bit surprising. And for someone who was supposed to be a governess, she seemed to spend very little actual time with her charge.

Each chapter of the book begins with a half-page from the adventures of Mae Winslow, written in an appropriately over-the-top dime novel style that was amusing and paralleled Gennie’s adventures. In the end, Gennie gets her chance to ride off into the sunset in good Mae Winslow style—but not before a series of twists and turns that kept me turning pages to find out what happened next.

And on the topic of endorsements that impressed me, this book got a glowing one from the king of Christian westerns, Stephen Bly, who says, “The gap between fiction and reality turns out to be much smaller than Eugenia Cooper realizes when she makes a last minute, ill-planned decision to hop a train to Denver in 1880. With excitement, romance, and humor, Kathleen Y’Barbo spins a tale that captures your mind. The author’s enthusiasm for writing spills out of every scene, creating, as it should enthusiastic readers.”

I’m happy to count myself one of those enthusiastic readers (and apparently that was obvious enough to my husband that, when I’d finished reading the book, he picked it up too and read it in one night. And liked it.). Western fans will want to lasso themselves a copy of this book faster than Mae Winslow can draw her Colt.

Kathleen Y’Barbo is a tenth-generation Texan with four children and seven stepchildren. She’s a proud military wife and the author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. You can also find her on social media.

Back-to-School fiction from Waterbrook:

This book was provided for review courtesty of the publisher or publicist.

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