It's 2015 and instead of creating a long list of resolutions, I've resolved to commit myself to only one: read more. Or should I say, read even more, because between the holiday baking, traveling, and nonstop general merriment of December, the only thing I seemed to do for myself besides take a daily shower is burn through the books on my beat-up Kindle.
I'm not ashamed to say that the only thing that kept me sane this holiday season was cowboys. Hot, sexy cowboys straight from the brilliant, twisty mind of author Lorelei James.
Here's the cover of the first book in her Blacktop Cowboys series, Corralled. All of these cover images are from the author's website.
This year, I read all six books in this series. When I discovered that James has written a seventh, a novella called Roped In, I felt a bit like this.
I spent New Year's Day in pajamas reading my first installment of her Rough Riders series. This one was Colby McKay's story, Long Hard Ride.
There are a only a handful of authors whose new releases I always read. Here's why James is on my must-read list.
1. Feisty-ass women. Her protagonists are not delicate princesses. The setting of these stories probably necessitates this, but they are imperfect, durable women with realistic desires and insecurities. If they start their stories as insecure shrinking violets, they sure as hell don't end that way. And I do so enjoy a loveable character who also knows how to raise hell.
2. Sexy-ass men. Not to get too nerdy here, but I believe that James' cowboy heroes have been triple-distilled from the collective sexual subconscious of the straight American female. They are alpha- and beta-males of complex, intriguing sexual prowess. Sometimes they land on surprising places on the Kinsey scale, from purely heterosexual to bi-sexual to purely homosexual. They are usually sexually dominant. They don't flinch from BDSM or group sex. The only thing they seem to fear is...(get ready for it)...losing the person they love. *FIREWORKS KITTENS UNICORNS CUPCAKES*
3. Unflinching, explicit sex. In Corralled, the first (mind you, the first) book in the Blacktop Cowboys series, James sets the tone by sending heroine Lainie on the rodeo circuit with two male lovers. It's been awhile since I've read this one, but I remember a threesome scene with a saddle and ropes in an open field that made my Kindle short circuit. If there's a sexual act you've heard about, James has probably written about it, and written about it well. To wit, here's the goofy disclaimer on the back cover copy for Long Hard Ride: "Warning: This story has tons of explicit sex,
graphic language that’d make your mama blush, light bondage, ménage a
trois, and—yee-haw!—hot nekkid cowboy man-love."
4. Surprising moments of emotional ouch. In One Night Rodeo, a rodeo rider inherits a ranch out of the blue. He doesn't have any experience running a ranch, so he relies on the grown-up kid sister of his best friends to help him learn. He has a lot to prove to himself, but the learning curve is steep. He works himself ragged. One night, he makes a big mistake that results in the loss of a cow. The vet chews him out. He comes home, dog-tired, and breaks down in front of the heroine, who becomes the only one who sees how hard he is on himself. I'm not gonna lie. I cried a little. It was a well-written scene and completely unexpected. And as all romance readers know, this kind of emotional development makes for really volcanic sexytime later on.
Lorelei James also writes mysteries under the name Lori Armstrong. Since I'm always gushing about her work to my husband, I might sneak one of her mystery books into his reading pile so that he can see why I fangirl over her so much.