As I sat down to write a review of Cowboy Take Me Away, I was overcome with emotion and wondered how I would ever be able to do justice to this book. It's more than that really; this book is the end of an era, the final tale in an epic saga, a love story that spans 60 years, and the series that made you into the writer you are today. I say that with love because as I re-read the Rough Riders series in preparation for CTMA, I noticed how much you've grown as a writer and even in the early stages of this series your stories were heads and shoulders above so many out there, but as time went on they became even better; deeper, more emotional, and truly special. I also took note of every little hint regarding Carson and Carolyn's relationship and there were many but they were only the tip of the iceberg.
There were some pretty big revelations in CTMA; we saw many facets of Carson and Carolyn and while some were surprising, some we'd seen all along if we paid attention. We gained even more understanding of Carson, Calvin, and Charlie's responsibility of being stewards of the land something they passed down to their children as well as Casper's children. We saw the burden of secrets that Kimmie and Carolyn knew but couldn't share with anyone else. We saw that sometimes history does repeat itself even when we swear it won't. We saw the full story of many partial stories we'd seen throughout fifteen books and we saw it from the eyes of those who lived it. We were treated to glimpses of the events that shaped many lives but most of all we learned that without Carolyn, Carson would have been a shell of a man. That's not to say he wasn't exactly what she needed, but I think even Carson would agree that Carolyn was the backbone, the pillar of strength, and the fierce guardian of the McKay empire. We saw a man realize that his life despite all the hardship, the tears, the joy, and the changes was completely wonderful because of the woman he knew he loved from the first moment he saw her and we saw a woman fight to make sure that their life together would continue on for years to come.
I can't even begin to express the myriad of emotions I went through as I read this book. I knew it would be an emotional journey but I had no idea how cathartic it would be. I'd been preparing myself for this book for the last two years and honestly, I was okay with this series ending because I knew that at any time I could go back and revisit it and relive their journey. I really loved the way you entwined so many of the past books into this one and how they each jarred a memory to be shared. How you showed that no marriage is perfect; that even those couples who appear the most solid have had experiences that have shaped them and brought them to where they are today. How a couple can have their ups and downs yet still maintain the love and lust they once had for one another even have 50 years together. I love that Carson shared with his nephews, niece, grandson, daughters in law and son in law that while his life with Carolyn wasn't perfect, it was theirs and theirs alone and he will always be the one to make sure she is taken care of and safe even if it means pissing off the people he loves most in the world next to his wife.
From Long, Hard Ride through Cowboy Take Me Away you have given so much of yourself and you have given your readers and fans a ride they will never forget. You have taught us that people change, relationships of all kinds take work, people come and go, and most of all that no matter what family comes first. It isn't always pretty, but you don't come into this world alone and if you are lucky you don't leave it alone either--especially when you find that one person to be by your side forever.
Thank you for sharing your talent with the world, for giving us this family to love, and for reminding us of all of life's lessons along the way. I am thankful for you and your friendship; it means more to me than you'll ever know.
PS---As emotional as this story was, thank you for the moments of laughter in it as well and for clearing up some questions I've had along the way. You rock!