Tofu Cowboy by Lola West
GUYS! Lola West is new on the romance scene, and is making her debut in a BIG way!
Tofu Cowboy is the story of Luke and Maddie, two lost souls in a small town Montana who both participate in an art class at the local college in an attempt to find parts of themselves they both thought were lost or out of reach. The instant connection between the unlikely pair is captivating from the start and has you rooting for those two crazy kids to figure it out all the way through. The interactions between not just Luke and Maddie, but the great cast of supporting characters, starts off goofy, and even when things take an emotional turn that thread of lighthearted humor never goes away. Brace yourself for Tarzan yells, Oregon Trail jokes, good ol’ fashioned family teasing in all its glory. Maddie and Luke have that mix of adorable, awkward, and downright hilarious character traits that I find absolutely irresistible. Before you worry that this book is nothing but fluff (which lets be honest… we all need some fluffy wonderfulness in our lives and this book absolutely delivers that) there are some deep and meaningful issues tackled in a way that is so real and visceral you can’t help but feel for both of them. My heart broke when things fell apart for the couple, and absolutely soared when I got to the ridiculously adorable and sweet ending.
Tofu Cowboy centers around the theme of acceptance, in all its forms. Both Maddie and Luke are searching for acceptance, whether it be the acceptance that comes from learning to embrace and love yourself, the peace that comes from accepting your own strengths and desires, to the acceptance of your family and community when you embrace those strengths.
Maddie and Luke’s “Meet Cute” moment is in art class, where Luke is a student doing a form study, and Maddie has volunteered to be the model. This beginning has all the makings of a great rom-com moment, but I have a confession… I have a toddler who is obsessed with the movie Coco right now so I have had to watch it only about a billion times in the last few months, and the scene with the skeleton posing for a painting was literally the only thing I could think of every time Maddie talked about posing for the class. That’s not a bad thing at all… just proof that momma needs to watch something not toddler approved once in a while.
One of the things I love most is that while there’s an instant spark between this couple, they still dated and took things slow-ish and let themselves fall into love. It felt like a real relationship, one that I was so lucky to watch evolve, and their hurts & hangups were just as real because of this. Also, can we talk about the subtle diversity represented here? A cowboy who doesn’t eat cows, a woman with blue hair, a small town that embraces both of them in that judgy-acceptance way that small towns just have. I mean, it’s not overt but it’s there and I loved it. Proof that diversity in a book doesn’t have to be preachy.
Tofu Cowboy does manage to fall into one of my least favorite tropes, which was admittedly off-putting to me, but I know that’s my own deal and not everyone has the same hang ups. I really have a hard time not reaching into the book and smacking the characters upside the head when they are dealing with all this drama and heartache and it could all be fixed super quickly and easily if they would just TALK TO ONE ANOTHER!
Thankfully they both come around and have that very needed conversation and it falls into place in the end.
All in all I truly loved this book and cannot WAIT to see more from Lola West and her Bog Sky boys! Do yourself a favor and go grab this one while it’s hot and disappear into a perfect fluffy rom-com with all the heart and steam you expect from a honky cowboy hero.
Jessica is a writer, reviewer, mother, coffee addict, a massive nerd, and reluctant resident of the Frozen North AKA Minnesota. When she isn’t chasing her little monsters around or singing Disney and Broadway songs at the top of her lungs with them, she is locked in her writing cave creating broody smexy book boyfriends, or getting lost in an audiobook.