Review: Saddled and Spurred by Lorelei James

Tuesday, March 29

Author: Lorelei James
Series:  Blacktop Cowboys #2
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Publisher:  NAL/Penguin
Format(s): Trade paperback, digital e-book
Date/Year:  March 1, 2011
Reviewed by:  DD 

*This book was purchased by the reviewer for her own reading pleasure

Summary from the publisher: 

This beauty is no greenhorn-and she's about to rope the man of her dreams.

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 livestock, and handling backbreaking ranch chores, but she doesn't mind getting down and dirty, either. Harper also discovers the hot-bodied 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.

My Musings:

I’ve lived in the South my whole life. I can identify with ‘Country’. I use this term to describe various trumped up foundations of life in a small town, such as Cowboy Boots, Cowboy Hats, hubcap sized Belt Buckles on Wrangler wearing ‘honest to goodness’ bull riders, excessive use of annoying endearments (sugar, honey, darlin’…you get the picture). And of course, let’s not forget the town matriarch. She owns the only beauty shop in town, smokes three packs of Virginia Slims a day, wears huge plastic earrings, and takes young mistreated/misguided ladies under her wing. These aww shucks fables can take place in Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, or any town that is just a dot on the map.

What I am trying to say is that it is a rare experience when an Author can take these played out elements and weave them into a story that can be enjoyed and not thrown in the “Cannot Finish” pile never to be touched again because the book is so cheesy it stinks from 12 feet away. Can Lorelei James pull this off? Yes Ma’am. She rocks. The woman can take clichés and make the cool kids like them.

This story takes place in the town of Muddy Gap, Wyoming. Sound quaint? Not really. No B & B’s for this little place. Former local beauty queen Harper Masterson (love the Name) has a drunken skank for a mother that ran off and left her to look out for her younger sister, Bailey, who is a Senior in high school. The oldest sister, Liberty, is enlisted in the Army and currently stationed in Afghanistan. Momma Masterson ran off with some local putz, pissed off everyone in town, leaving Harper strapped for friends and employment choices. She holds down two jobs to support herself and Bailey, who is supposedly going to college in the Fall, and Harper plans to move to wherever Bailey goes to school to supply her younger sister with monetary and moral support. When she gets axed at the local tanning salon because of slow business, Harper is understandably distraught. Like a ray of light her best friend Celia calls in Harper’s time of woe, and gets an earful of sobs. But Celia has a devious plan for her BFF…….

Bran Turner is a rangy local cowboy who owns a modest ranch outside of town that he inherited from his Grandparents. He runs it himself along with his old and grumpy right hand, Les.  When Poor Les has a little mishap with a bull, rendering him useless for a few months, Harper shows up at Bran’s door, ready to make some cash, mend fences, and start birthin’ some bovine babies.

We all know that chaos ensues at this point.

Bran is Proud. Bran is Cocky. Bran is kinda Sweet. Bran has a serious case of foot in mouth disease. Seriously, this guy has no filter, but you love him anyway. He says whatever he thinks and is a little rough around the edges. Unlike most Heroes in our beloved romance novels, Bran has a little insecurity about his appeal to women-especially this woman. He is in constant awe of Harper’s beauty and more or less sees a glowing aura around her at all times. I have to say this is kind of a new aspect for a hero and frankly very refreshing. Usually, it is conveyed that the main Male character of a story is very confident about his looks, and of course his sexual hints at vulnerability if he is not. I feel like most Authors shy away from this, thinking that a man cannot possibly be “The Perfect Alpha Male” if he is at all insecure or shows any vulnerability before the big “fall” in the book. I disagree. Ms. James let him be a little unsure of himself, and therefore more relateable. I’m not saying he is a wimpy limp noodle or, gasp…Beta. He is just more humanized.

There was a lot of give and take between Harper and Bran. He wasn’t weak and neither was she. They both wanted to be worthy of each other, and had genuine love and affection, not just lust. Their banter was hilarious and is current with the times. Since Lorelei James herself lives in the Dakotas, you get the feeling she is pulling from some of her personal experience. I love that she can walk the walk and talk the talk. We learn all about ranching alongside Harper because of this. I always feel the best books are the ones were you feel like you’re living inside the story, and Saddled and Spurred delivers that to the reader in spades.

And we can’t talk about a Lorelei James book without talking about the Luuuuv scenes.  In my opinion, this book and its predecessor, Corralled, are not as erotic as the Rough Riders seriesSaddled and Spurred is very, very, hot, but the love scenes didn’t feel like as much of the focus of the book as some of James’ previous novels. To me, the scenes could possibly be a little disappointing to readers familiar with this Author’s other series because I would describe them as just a little kinky, definitely not vanilla, but maybe more like butter pecan…..however the love scenes are still great and consistent with James’ style. I personally felt nothing was missing. She has all the Wild West infusion and the periphery of characters that we will come to know and love just as much as her beloved Rough Riders. I can’t WAIT for the next book in the series, Wrangled and Tangled (Nov 1, 2011).

  • Overall:  4.75 Stars~Very close to a perfect romance novel. Humor, emotion, multi-faceted characters and engaging love scenes. If you have a hard copy, It’s a keeper. This is a feel good story, with fainting goats and a strange dream about bovine mating………..No hankies, just smiles. :) 
  • Sensuality level:  4.00~Super hot relatively speaking, but we’ve seen WAYYYY hotter from Lorelei James. I wouldn’t classify this one as “erotica”.  
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Scorpio M. March 29, 2011 at 10:02 AM  

Hi DD, really enjoyed your review. I have this book on its way to me and I am anxious to read it! I agree with you, LJ's writing is very layered. She manages to balance sexy with emotional depth.

I kind of like that her Blacktop series is a bit more tame than the RR series. I think I'm gonna love SADDLED & SPURRED because it's a one-on-one relationship as opposed to a love triangle featured in CORALLED. And I love a hero who is a bit unsure of himself. Makes him more realistic. :)

Alexa March 29, 2011 at 7:04 PM  

I own the first book in this series and this review is making me want to read it so that I can get this second book. Thanks for the great review.

DD,  April 11, 2011 at 12:16 PM  

Hello Scorpio M!
I am kind of glad Saddled and Spurred is not Menage as well. For me, those types of relationships in novels can quickly lose their luster. But I never get tired of old fashioned true love!! And I really love Bran in this book. He is a memorable hero.

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