1972 - Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies. Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.
Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop's inability to express his feelings.
Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, "You were 'always on my mind'?"
A native New Yorker, Andrea Downing currently divides her time between the canyons of city streets and the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Her background in publishing and English Language teaching has transferred into fiction writing, and her love of horses, ranches, rodeo, and just about anything else western, is reflected in her award-winning historical and contemporary western romances.
She has been a finalist in the RONE Awards for Best American Historical Romance twice, placed in the International Digital Awards twice, and won ‘Favorite Hero’ along with Honorable Mentions for Favorite Heroine, Short Story and Novel in the Maple Leaf Awards. Her book, Dearest Darling, has also won The Golden Quill Award for Best Novella and been on the short list for winning The Chanticleer Award for Best Short or Novella. You can find Andrea at
Andrea Downing’s novel Always on My Mind starts in a country/western bar in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in May of 1972 where a ruggedly handsome rancher, Cooper Byrnes, becomes infatuated with a hippie girl who is obviously just passing through town with her friends. To Cooper, the girl is other worldly. He was first mesmerized by multiple little mirrors surrounded by embroideries that covered her blouse, her auburn hair with little feathers in it, frayed bell-bottom jeans with bleached out spots and tatters in the knees, and leather sandals. Cooper’s long time rodeo friend, Ty, warned him that she wasn’t his type, but admitted that she might be fun for a night.
Cassie Halliday noticed that the handsome cowboy was mesmerized by her. She had embarked on this cross-country trip to meet people who were different from her upbringing in Boston. She couldn’t imagine anyone more different than the handsome cowboy with his Stetson hat, snapper-button shirt, string tie, pressed jeans, and cowboy boots. He was a sight—a very pleasant sight. She was thrilled when he approached with his muscular friend. Her hippie friends made the mistake of calling the two cowboys hicks. Ty responded immediately to the insult by throwing a punch. Her handsome cowboy grabbed her hand and led her outside—away from the fray.
After the brawl was over, her cowboy named Cooper led her back into the bar, his big rough hand holding hers. They danced. And then she realized that her friends were not coming back into the bar to retrieve her. She was abandoned in the middle of nowhere. Her cowboy offered her a bed in the guest room in his ranch house for the night. Naturally, she worried what he was drawing her into—what he hoped to force on her. But because of his calm demeanor, and his soft spoken offer, she did not fear his motives, and went to bed alone in his guest room.
I won’t disclose more about what happened next in this review. But this mismatched romance was perfectly set up, and became more and more entertaining because of their cultural differences. He was a cow rancher and beef was his staple food. She was a vegetarian. They had nothing in common except for their attraction to each other. They were both strong-willed people. He is presented as uncompromisingly set in his ways. She is a bit of an airhead. I became hooked as I think most readers will.
The novel is beautifully written with a very organized plot that is easy to follow and expertly edited. It expressed tension, uncertainty, feelings of inadequacy and incompatibility. And all of those emotions had an unexpressed, underlying, deep developing love. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Most enthusiastic romantic reviewers would probably give it a four star rating, despite its lack of life threatening peril which would have been easy to introduce on a ranch in Wyoming.
I have to admit my bias. I spent almost two years in Wyoming including two long winters that were life threatening with temperatures often ten to thirty degrees below zero Fahrenheit with winds rarely dropping below twenty miles per hour. The author missed an excellent opportunity to create a life-threatening scene for a girl from Boston who didn’t have a clue how to survive in such a dangerous isolated environment. For missed opportunities at creating more exciting action, I regret lowering my rating to three and one half stars. I do highly recommend it for romantic novel enthusiasts.
Trigger warning: There is an attempted rape scene that could be hard for some to read.
Ground-breaking in terms of romance writing. No romance in the past can compare to this work.
There is a definite connection between Coop and Cassie from the moment they set eyes on each other. The truism, opposites attract, is redefined here. The two of them could be cast in the remake of the Bickersons if Hollywood wants to take it in a western approach. It was remarkable how the two of them could go from arguing to snuggling to yelling, to cuddling to arguing to lovemaking. One raised to not realize love is a four-letter word and the other too young to realize that either can use the word first.
A tumultuous relationship that shows real heat can come from combustion. In the theme of the Western, it can be shown that once more, in this case, the lass gets her man. Compelling, a very easy read. Will keep the reader on edge of their seat and tug on their heartstrings.
A book recommended to all the fans of today's conflict-filled bestsellers that are hotter than ever today.
For readers who enjoy a love story filled with angst and heartbreak, this one will hit the mark! Ms. Downing does a fabulous job of creating life in the early 70s right down to the small objects and music that enveloped that era.
For those who are interested in a trip back in time to the 1970s, this is the perfect book! Ms. Downing does a fabulous job of re-creating an era and weaving it deftly into the story without hammering it home.
While the setting and overall story was very well-done, the characters drove me nuts! Neither were written with enough depth to truly understand their actions (or lack thereof.) The biggest problem for me, however, is a personal pet-peeve and guaranteed star dropper. The trope where the conflict is based solely on mis-communication that could be avoided with ONE conversation! In this instance this trope affects the entire book. Seriously - YEARS of heart-ache, life and love wasted for no reason. And the reader must follow the characters through all those miserable years.
Ms. Downing's book was a strong, emotional read. At times the conflict was so real-life and in your face as to be brutal. The divide between the characters echoed the divide in the U.S. during this time. It is a compelling story, driving you forward, not letting you go. You're desperate for the finish, to find how it turned out. I should know, it kept me up all night!
The story starts in a bar in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1972. Cassie and her “hippie” friends stop in one night and sparks (as well as fists) fly. Cooper is mesmerized by the other-worldly Cassie. Though he’s warned by his friends that she isn’t his “type”, Coop can’t take his eyes off her. Cassie is a Boston girl heading for Haight Ashbury in California to meet new and different people – but this cowboy is about as different as they come. When he asks her to join him, she agrees. Nine months later, she leaves with a note thanking him. The two are definitely mismatched, but the heart wants what it wants. Years go by with both of them trying to forget the other – but it doesn’t happen. They live their lives, but always feel as though something is missing. The ending is a perfect one for the odd couple.
What I liked: the plot is straight forward and builds to the end. Both characters have their issues and deal with them in the ways that work for them. I loved the gay couple who takes in Cassie and her daughter. They are so sweet. I also loved the incident with the greenhouse.
What I didn’t like: Coop didn’t draw me in a lot, but I understood where he was coming from. And the ending did work out for both him and Cassie.
Recommendation: The book is true to the era (1970s) and the romance between Coop and Cassie is a good one. Overall, it’s a nice story that is easy to read and follow. A decent romance with a HEA ending that satisfies.
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone or anything
5 Stars. This book was such an enjoyable read. I really liked how the story starts off with the main characters first meeting, weaving through their relationship, and then to their parting. The story takes the reader through their years apart and finally to a reunion. The author does a great job of holding your attention through the progression of time. A well-developed setting places you in the 1970’s with vivid scenes and language. The main characters are interesting to watch as they grow. Cassie becomes a strong and independent woman. Coop is stubborn and set in his ways, and you’ll want to smack him sometimes, but this is what makes him such a good character. As you turn the pages of each chapter, the anticipation rises as you wait for Cassie and Coop to find each other again. There’s a good supporting cast, providing an additional layer of enjoyment. At the end, I wanted a bit more. I wanted more from the reveal of the secret Cassie had been keeping from Coop, and more of their reconnection. But that’s just me and probably because I was so absorbed in the story. Drama and packed with emotion, I highly recommend this book. Reviewed for Still Moments Magazine.
I am a huge fan of the ’70s, hippies, and ranchers so I jumped at the chance to read this book. There just isn’t enough good '70’s stories or with hippies as main characters. Cassie was so sweet and adorable. She sure as heck endured more from Coop for nine months than I would have. Coop on the other hand was arrogant a**. At first, I would have marked him antihero but I think he is more misunderstood. I love unique not run of the mill romantic interests and Coop sure was that. Many times, I wanted to shake him, and a few times punch him in the mouth. (That is good… it means the story evokes emotion lol). I think this is one of the most realistic books I have read this year. It also sucked me in and held me. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next especially a little over midway with the line. On blank day Coop married Barbara. I was like what the heck and had to read on. So, as you can see from this… no not your formulaic romance. There are lots of twists and turns that kept me wanting more. I fell in love with Larry and Gary an older gay couple almost as much as Coop. Don’t worry, though this is different it’s an amazing story with a very good ending. I cried happy tears.
It's 1972, the time of hippies, Vietnam and free love. One of those hippies found herself in Wyoming without a ride to California. A farmer there, Cooper by name, took her in. She cooked and cleaned for him. Occasionally she helped outside too. This hippie, Cassie, knew she was falling in love with Cooper. She had no idea Cooper would continue to be in her life for many years. Though she leaves the farm, Cooper never leaves her mind. Life goes on. This is a different kind of love story. Well written, this story brings you in immediately. The characters are well defined. The type of characters you may find in your own life. Ms. Downing tells the story in such a way you are in a quandary over whether or not to put the book aside. Each page reveals a little more. It's just enough to begin that quandary. I can tell you, you will be rooting for Cassie. This book is perfect for everyone. Even those who may not be into romance, get this book. It's that great! It's a perfect gift for anyone.
I found no issues in this one. copy of book provided by author and I voluntarily reviewed it. I gave this one 5 cheers out of 5 because it's written so well.
Always on My Mind is my first read by Andrea Downing and I’m so glad I gave this new to me author the proverbial go! Set a time when a nation’s feelings about life and world events were often conflicting and cause for friction amongst the masses, this is a story of two very different and real individuals who found temporary solace in each other’s arms. There are confrontational issues that may cause some people distress, but the author addresses this topic with care and compassion. There is plenty of tension and misunderstandings between these extremely complex characters as they navigate an unexpected attraction and all that it entails. Ms Downing paints a beautiful visual of the landscape and the period setting, while keeping her characters believable and true to turmoil of 70’s. I had moments of heartache, and then edge of my seat trepidation as I awaited the final outcome of this wonderful story. I’m sure it will open the eyes of those not familiar with life in this nostalgic time.
This historical romance set in the 1970's is perfection. It was a time of great division in America and the two main characters, Coop and Cassie, come together with all the tension swirling around that era. He's a stoic western rancher and she's a free-spirited flower child, and the reader just aches for them to overcome their differences. Always on My Mind is not your ordinary romance. The characters, complex and sometimes flawed, read like real people, and the plot is unpredictable. The big payoff comes at the end, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens next! As with all of Andrea Downing's stories, she does an excellent job with painting such a picture of the settings, you feel you're right there. The reader who lived through those turbulent times will feel the nostalgia, and younger readers will get a sense of what it is like to live in a decade so close in some ways, but so remote in others. I highly recommend this book!
Cooper Byrnes is low maintenance and stuck in his ways. He is considered by some to be somewhat of a grouch. He lives a very simple predictive life. That is until Cassie walks into his life.
Cassie Halliday is a bit of a mystery to those in Jackson Hole. She is a hippie and doesn't try to hide it. Boston was where she's from but San Francisco is where she's headed.
Cooper isn't used to the turn of events that has Cassie in his life. He doesn't know whether to embrace her or give her a time limit in his life.
Life happens so fast. In this beautifully written novel, Andrea Downing was able to portray such a beautiful love story. Most times we don't live fairy tales that often in life. This book shows how we learn to live with the choices we've chosen for ourselves. 5 stars of reality and dreams that come together are found in this book as it takes you a wonderful place! I gave an honest review in exchange for a review copy of this novel.
Always On My Mind is a vintage ranch-themed romance. Taking place in the 1970s, the first part of the story is set in Wyoming. Ranch owner Copper is fascinated by a young hippie girl that he meets at a dance in town. She’s traveling with some friends but is not particularly happy, and Cooper offers her a place to stay.
Cassie grew up in Boston and knows very little about farming, but she is happy keeping house for Cooper. However, many local people disapprove of them living together as an unmarried couple.
Part two takes place in San Francisco. Cassie has left Cooper and makes a new home in a city which embraces change. Although Cassie chose to leave Cooper, he’s often in her thoughts; back in Wyoming, Copper is devastated by her departure. See here for full review https://wp.me/p2Eu3u-fnl
Reading this book is like going back in time. An accurate, and occasionally, heart breaking remembrance of how things used to be. The good old days weren't always that good as it turns out. Downing relates, quite accurately, gender inequality, racial upheaval, women's rights to govern their own bodies and the really big one . . . Vietnam. These are two memorable characters coming together and never forgetting. Kat Henry Doran, Wild Women Reviews
I enjoyed this unique story set in a time that isn’t written about often. I’ve also never read a romance between a hippie and a cowboy. This one was immensely entertaining. The characters were vivid and relatable. Their story culminates in a satisfying ending that made me want to read another book by Andrea Downing. Highly recommend!