Review: Corralled by Lorelei James

Friday, September 17

Title:  Corralled*
Author:  Lorelei James
Series:  Blacktop Cowboys series #1
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Publisher: NAL
Format:  Trade size paperback
Date/Year:  August 2010

*This book was provided to me by the author for review

Summary from the publisher:

First in a new series about some hard-riding rodeo cowboys...and the women who can rein them in.

Sports therapist Lainie Capshaw has been rehabilitating injured cowboys long enough to know that a charming western drawl combined with a fine physical form doesn't mean you fall for the man.

So no one is more surprised than Lainie when she finds herself involved with not one, but two different men: Hank Lawson, a bullfighter, and Kyle Gilchrist, a bull rider. Lainie feels guilty about her two-timing, but it doesn't keep her from doubling her fun-that is until Hank catches her with Kyle.

She's shocked that Hank isn't mad. But she's more shocked to learn Hank and Kyle are hometown buddies. But when the men offer to share her-in every way-she knows that she's going to have to choose the one man who can give her the ride of her life...

My Musings:

Corralled is the first book in Lorelei James’s new Blacktop Cowboy series.  This was one of my most anticipated reads this year because I am completely and utterly devoted and in love with her Rough Riders series.  I’ve come to expect an emotional and compelling read that goes well beyond what you might expect from an erotic romance.  Yes, these books are hot, hot, hot, but it’s the emotion and the characters that drive the story which make her love scenes beyond compare.  She’s my favorite contemporary erotic romance writer for a reason, and Corralled is her most sexually driven erotic romance yet.

We first meet Lainie in a bar discussing with her friend her dilemma of being sexually involved with two men at the same time (but not together…yet).  They both fulfill different desires and needs and she finds herself in a predicament when both of them show up at the same bar to surprise her.  She’s horrified to have been caught, and shocked when she finds out that they are boyhood friends.  Lainie feels that despite her growing attraction to each man that she needs to sever her relationship to both men because it’s impossible for her to choose between them and doesn’t want to be the reason their friendship becomes strained.

Hank and Kyle refuse to let Lainie go because both feel more for her than a simple attraction.  In a desperate plan to try and win her heart they decide that they would be willing to share her if that means that their time with her won’t end so soon.  However, neither sees this as a long term solution.  They both pull out all of the seductive stops in hopes that during “Cowboy Christmas”, where they will be riding the rodeo circuit together for a few short, but grueling weeks that she will grow to love one more than the other and make a tough choice.  Lainie comes to realize the difference between lust and love, and must break one man’s heart.

Corralled is a m/f/m ménage, however it is unlike most that are being written today.  No matter how well written and convincing a ménage plot is there is always a thought where I wonder if a committed and loving relationship between two alpha males and one female can really work without jealousies and problems.  Corralled presents that dilemma to the reader, and it’s not all copacetic.

Hank and Kyle are two very alpha and possessive cowboys who agree to share her, but neither sees this as a long term solution.  Each wants Lainie for themselves….alone.  And in the end Lainie does have stronger feelings and falls in love with just one of them.  But the reader is left guessing which one she might choose until one special scene towards the end of the book after they all make love together, where Lainie reveals her feelings to the one not chosen.  I loved that the complexities and realities of a ménage relationship were addressed in Corralled.  I loved that in the end Lainie fell “in love” with only one of them, even though she will always love the other as well.

Most of the story is told through their sexual encounters because the men compete with each other through their intimate time with Lainie as a way to show their love and affection for her.  However that is not the only thing this book is about.  The heart of the book it is not about sex, but about Lainie and everyone she has relationships with in her life…most of them slightly dysfunctional.   Her relationship with her mother is strained; her relationship with her mentor and employer is not all that she believes and trusts in, her relationship and growing feelings with Hank and Kyle and how she at first chooses to avoid making a choice and her missing relationship with the father who died a rodeo icon.

Lainie’s journey in Corralled is short, but intense, and yes very sexual.  However, I wish that there would have been a few more scenes between Lainie, Hank and Kyle outside of the love scenes.  For instance, during their courtship Kyle takes Lainie on a date to a carnival while on the road.  It’s a first for Lainie and the reader is told how special the day was to her, but unfortunately we don’t learn much more about that time for her.  I wanted more of those types of moments….I missed that insight into how she finally chose the man she did.  I also wished that the story would have begun when she first started her relationship with each man instead of at the point that Kyle and Hank found out about each other.  Would it have made a difference to the story?  Probably not, it’s just a pet peeve of mine to not be there as a reader when the hero and heroine start their journey towards love (unless it’s a reunion story).  These are just two issues that I had in an otherwise great romance with cowboy heroes that are definitely hard to choose between.  Lainie was one lucky lady :)  Corralled will not disappoint fans of Lorelei James and is a promising beginning to a series that I hope becomes as beloved as her Rough Riders.


Overall:  4.25 stars
Sensuality rating:  4.0

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Pam S (pams00),  September 17, 2010 at 11:08 AM  

ty for sharing your great review :)! This one is on my wishlist and hope to get it soon.

Jessica September 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM  

I just discovered Lorelei James this summer and you are right, her books are top shelf all the way. I really liked your review and will be on the lookout for Corralled. ;0)

Scorpio M. September 17, 2010 at 6:32 PM  

Another great review! You know I HEART LJ, can't wait to read this one.

Have a great weekend.

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