Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review of Cowgirl Up and Ride by Lorelei James

Lorelei James
Cowgirl Up and Ride (Rough Riders, #3)
Samhain Publishing, March 2008

Genre & Keywords
: Contemporary, Cowboys , Ménage, Dominant Man, Brooding Bad-Boy

Rating: êêêêê
Heat level:

I’m a big fan of Lorelei James’ work ever since I discovered her Rough Riders series when I was visiting a Barnes and Noble in New York. The first thing I always have to do when visiting another city is find a bookshop (anyone recognizing this compulsive behavior?). So on my first day in NY I stumbled on book 4 of Ms. James’ series: Tied Up, Tied Down. I left the store with a small pile of books, very happy. And I even got happier after I started reading Tied Up, Tied Down, because I had no idea that such hot books existed (I know... I’m a bit naïve) other than Harlequin’s Blaze books. Nowadays I know that Lorelei James is one of many erotic romance writers, but I still think she’s one of the best, so it was nonetheless a lucky hit. Of course I started reading her other books and I just finished Cowgirl Up an Ride, book 3 in the series.

I like to share my High 5, Low 5 with you. The High Five are five things that have impressed me (with an emphasis on the author’s writing skills), and the Low Five are five things that have me shaking my head, wonder or regret.

First the Back Blurb:
...Ridin’ the edge of lust is fun—until someone falls in love.
Goody-two boots AJ Foster has waited her entire life for her dream cowboy Cord McKay to see her as more than the neighbor girl in pigtails. Now that she’s old enough to stake her claim on him, she’s pulling out all the sexual stops and riding hell-bent for leather—straight for his libido.
Divorced rancher Cord has sworn off all women…until innocent AJ suggests he teach her how to ride bareback—and he realizes she doesn’t mean horses or bulls. Between his responsibilities running his massive ranch, missing his young son and dealing with the sexual shenanigans of his brother and cousins, Cord is more than willing to take AJ up on her offer. On a trial basis.
The fun and games tie them both up in knots. AJ isn’t willing to settle for less than the whole shootin’ match with her western knight. But for Cord, even though the sexy cowgirl sets his blood ablaze, he’s determined to resist her efforts to lasso his battered heart.
Sweet, determined AJ has the power to heal—or heel—the gruff cowboy…unless Cord’s pride keeps him from admitting their relationship is more than a simple roll in the hay.
Warning: this book contains: raunchy sex scenes that’ll work you into a lather faster than a winded horse, graphic language, resourceful use of baling twine, ménage a trois, ménage a quatage, and yippee! hot nekkid lovin'.

High 5

• First of all, I think it’s amazing how Lorelei James keeps a firm grip on all the different characters and their adventures throughout the whole series. She weaves a large but solid web of all her protagonists, who are sometimes the main characters and in other books the supporting actors. It’s amazing to get to know this extensive family and their friends and love interests. It makes reading one of the Rough Riders books each time a pleasure and a feast of recognition. One of the strong features, even when you read one of the books as a standalone, is the extensive gathering of secondary characters. None of the couples are isolated from their surroundings, as you see in some other authors’ books. So the big supporting cast around Cord and AJ is definitely one of the highs in Cowgirl Up an Ride.

• Another high in Cowgirl Up an Ride are the great, lifelike dialogues. They make the encounters between the hero and heroine vivacious and easy to empathize with. The dialogue alternates well with the characters’ thoughts and reflections on the dialogue (mostly in italic). The last are oftentimes prompting a smile or a chuckle at least. Especially Cord speaking to himself in this way is disarming. Ms. James makes his struggle with himself and his assumptions and doubts very well visible. He’s so adorable with his hard, tough appearance and his vulnerability on the inside.

• Which brings me at the next high: the lovability of the protags. Both Cord and AJ are easy to like, not only because of their characteristics or appearance, but also thanks to their well drawn-out complexity. Ms. James makes you understand their behavior, even the hurtful and stupid actions. But most of all she made the two of them a believable couple, their chemistry is great, although their age difference is more than ten years. AJ is a beautiful, sweet, sassy, hard-working, self-sacrificing, virgin, who pursuits her goal determinedly. Cord is a hot, dominant gruff, stubborn, proud, responsible but empathic and good-hearted divorced rancher, who’s afraid to get hurt again. His persuasive actions at the end of the book to show AJ his love, after he finally had the guts to admit his feelings to himself, are totally alluring and had me falling in love with him.

• The love scenes are hot, frequent and never the same. I admire Ms. James’ skill to never repeat herself (by the way, not only in sex scenes but neither in plots or characterizations, within the rest of the series). I recall one of the many great love scenes when AJ was there for Cord after he got beaten up by his drunken brother and she gives him a – initially – relaxing massage. Cord completely submits to her, physically and emotionally, which is very sweet and touching.

• We got a sneak peek of Kade and Skylar’s relation, which will be told in book 4 of the Rough Riders series. I’ve already read that story, because it was my first book by Lorelei James and I didn’t realize then that is was part of a series. But now I’ve become to learn more of the McKay family I wanna reread Kade and Skylar’s story because I know I missed quite a few references to the other couples from the earlier and later books. Plus I wanna read their love story again with the extra background info about them.

Low 5

I honestly can’t think of one single low. Even Cord’s goatee couldn’t turn me off, while I’m not a fan of permanent facial hair on my heroes (the non-permanent five o’clock stubble... now that I do like!). Probably because the goatee of the model on the cover looks really sexy. By the way, I LOVE the covers of the Rough Riders series! (there, another high sneaked in. So no lows I can think of for this book – can you tell I’m a fan?).

So, this were my five highs and zero lows. It won’t be a surprise that I strongly recommend Cowgirl Up and Ride. I promise, it won’t be a waste of your time. Enjoy!

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