Blacktop Cowboys #2
March 1, 2011
Trade Paperback, 336 pages
New American Library
Once again, Lorelei James proves that she is the master of cowboy contemporary romance. While I liked the first book in the series, Corralled, I absolutely adored Saddled and Spurred.
Despite being a former beauty queen, 24 year old Harper Masterson does not have an easy life. After her no-good mother runs away to Mexico with a married man, Harper is forced to drop out of school and take on the responsibilities of caring for her baby sister Bailey. With her eldest sister serving in Afghanistan, Harper abandons her dream of having a career and takes on a number of odd jobs in order to pay the bills. With her sister graduating from high school in a few short months, Harper is willing to sacrifice her own well-being so her sister can go to college and they can both re-locate. However, with Harper currently living in a small town (Muddy Gap) and having a mother with a not so flattering reputation, the jobs aren't plentiful. So when she is "let go" from her low-paying position as a sales girl, Harper scrambles to find another job so she can make ends meat. After telling her friend Celia Lawson (Corralled) about her predicament, Celia sets Harper up with a job as a ranch-hand for family friend Bran Turner.
Ever since Harper first pulled into Muddy Gap, Bran has lusted over the blond hair whiskey eyed beauty. However, Bran believes that a looker like Harper would never go for a rough and tumble guy like him, so he keeps his distance. But after his former ranch-hand is injured during calving season, Bran is left in a bind. Since no one answered his help-wanted adds, Bran agrees to hire Harper, although she is completely inexperienced in all things ranch related. As her boss, Bran tries to treat Harper as just another employee. However, having Harper around him 24-7 soon chips away at his resolve and they both give into temptation. With Harper leaving in a few months, Bran sees no harm in them engaging in some after-hours activities. But when he starts to develop feelings for Harper, he begins to wonder if he'll ever be able to let her go.
One of the great things about Lorelei James as author is her focus on character development. I particularly loved Harper. Despite being a pageant queen, she never comes off as being vain or selfish. She is devoted to ensuring that her sister finishes school and goes to college and as a result, she is willing to sacrifice her own dream of having a career in fashion. When Harper finally does decide to start caring about her own happiness and well-being I wanted to stand up and yell "you go girl". Harper's actions and reactions were also genuine and true to her character from beginning to end. There is one scene in particular where Harper thinks she has killed Bran's goats that had the potential to be cheesy, but Harper's reactions were so sincere that instead of cringing, I had a few giggles. I also particularly loved how she was so determined to show Bran that she is more than just a girly-girl and takes on all the jobs he gives her head on. Honestly, I wish I was a little bit more like Harper!
And then there is Bran, sigh. There is nothing better than a handsome brooding cowboy. Like Harper, there is a lot more to Bran than meets the eye. Bran has considerable trust issues and as a result, doesn't let a lot of people get close to him. However, I enjoyed seeing him open up to Harper and allowing her to see a side of himself that he doesn't share openly. And like the rest of Jame's heroes, Bran is pure alpha male, complete with snarling and growling. As a result, this book is smoking hot! With Harper having limited experience in the bedroom, Bran makes it his mission to spice up her vanilla views on sex. This leads to lots of yummy encounters between the pair that are as far from vanilla as possible. There is one scene in a dressing room that is particularly titillating, hehe. Fans of James's Rough Riders series will certainly be satisfied with Bran's sexual prowess.
James also introduces (and reintroduces) a number of secondary characters in the book. Considering that there aren't many single McKay men left (tear), it is clear that James won't be giving up on writing about studly cowboys any time soon. One of the new characters that definitely caught my attention was August Fletcher. I hope his book is next in line after Wrangled and Tangled, which features Abe Lawson, who was introduced in the first book, and Renner Jackson, a newbie to Muddy Gap. Two smoking hot cowboy's in one book? Yes, please!
For those who were slightly disappointed by Corralled, Saddled and Spurred will definitely be more to your liking. Both Bran and Harper are great characters that have great chemistry both in an out of the bedroom. Like all other James books, when I finished reading Saddled and Spurred I was ready to pack my bags and move to Wyoming so I can find my own cowboy. They do exist, right?
Loved it! It was one steamin' hot cup of joe.
~Night Owl Romance - 5/5
Other books in the series:
Wrangled and Tangled (December 2011)