I love it when I’m right. I just knew, even though these new Lorelei James book aren’t part of her fan-fave McKay series, that they’d be just as good, just as hot, just as emotional, and I’d get just as immersed in them as I did those previous books. Needless to say, I was right on the money. Of course, that’s not difficult because we are talking about Lorelei James here. She delivers every book, every story, every character as real as life can get every time.
I even like this book more than the first, Corralled. And that’s saying something, because Corralled is a damned good book. Ms. James is one of the best at writing emotion, especially from the male point of view. You have to meet Bran Turner. He’s a smoldering, sexy, and somewhat vulnerable cowboy who captures your heart right away. He’s blindsided by Harper when she shows up on her doorstep after a mutual friend recommends the perfect person to temporarily take over his injured hired hand’s position. Having been attracted to Harper when she was just 18, you can imagine what his reaction is like now since she’s grown into a more confident and independent woman – all of which came to her much too early when her mother left her and her younger sister behind for a man, with no thought to her daughters. But Bran is in desperate need for the help and Harper is in desperate need for the money, so he reluctantly hires her, knowing it’s probably the biggest mistake he’s made in a long while.
Harper has given up everything in her life to work two and three jobs at a time to take care of her younger sister, even going so far as wanting to leave Muddy Gap to set up house wherever sis decides to go to college. She’s tired of being compared to her booze-guzzling, man-eating mother, so much so she’s conducted herself in a spotless, very appropriate manner as much as possible, but then even some folks in town still believe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Thus the reason for her willingness to take on a ranch hand job – even though she knows nothing about the position – the other businesses in town wouldn’t hire her if she’s the only one left standing.
Because Harper is eager to learn and puts 100% into the job, and because she’s as curvy and beautiful as he remembers, Bran softens toward her, they develop a good working relationship, but he also wants more from her. Harper does her best to keep her feelings under control, but eventually they’re both lost to the lust and chemistry that zings between them. They attribute their hunger for one another to the fact that Harper will be leaving town in a number of weeks. Of course, the closer that time nears, the more they realize they don’t want to be without each other, but they leave that particular communication out of the relationship until it’s nearly too late. Up until that time, however, they have fun together and the loving between them spirals into intense, unadulterated passion that knows no bounds.
Everyday life and jealousies do interfere here and there and they confront those issues head-on, until Bran’s old hired hand recuperates enough to re-enter the picture. He stirs up a hornet’s nest every chance he gets. And Bran lets that get to him, his vulnerabilities coming to the fore with a vengeance, letting Harper get away from him and going crazy with anger at himself for being such a fool and worries over her, not knowing where she is and what she’s doing. What Harper’s done in the meantime to get over her exasperating, sexy man is finally take care of herself and not everyone else first. It’s a long time in coming, but it feels oh-so-good when she finally embraces that freedom.
We also get to catch up with the characters we first met in Corralled, and we get a closer look at Celia and Kyle, who, if my guess is correct, will be featured in the next book in the series. I sure hope I’m right on that score, because these two will be explosive together. But there’s also Abe and his ex-wife, Janie, so I may be off the track a bit and they might be next. There’s so much to still happen in this Blacktop Cowboys series!
Cattleman Bran Turner is left shorthanded during busy calving season when a bull tramples his hired hand. Rural Wyoming isn’t exactly a hotbed of qualified candidates, and the only applicant for the position is the pampered town beauty, Harper Masterson. The curvy cowgirl gets under Bran’s skin at every turn, but with no other options, he reluctantly hires her.
When sexual sparks ignite, down-on-her-luck Harper enjoys convincing Bran that not only is she capable of pulling calves, feeding live-stock, and handling backbreaking ranch chores, but she doesn’t mind getting down and dirty, either. Harper also discovers the hotbodied cowboy isn’t all work and no horseplay…and he’s got more than a few tricks up his sleeve. Bran will learn quickly that Harper is no country mouse—and that she might just have what it takes to stick around for the long haul.
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