Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Five Umbrellas: Shoulda Been a Cowboy by Lorelei James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First up, this is a smoking hot, off the charts romantica offering--if you prefer something a little more mild, Charlotte Douglas has an awesome Harlequin American by the same title from 2006. But, if you are looking for a walk on the wild, wild west side, you can't get any better than this. Cam is my absolute favorite kind of hero--the wounded warrior with a giant chip on his shoulder because he's coming to terms with an life altering injury. I swear I'm not one of the weird disabled vet groupies that Cam complains about in the story, but there is something really sweet about seeing love blossom when one of the parties is far different from the normal hero model. Cam lost his leg in Iraq, and while he's found a satisfying new career as a deputy sheriff, he's held himself back from romantic relationships. Domini also holds herself back from romantic relationships for her own reasons, and like Cam, she is no stranger to war as she's from the Ukraine originally. The two have danced around each other for several years as friendly acquaintances, but Domini finally finds the courage to tell Cam what she *really* wants. Which turns out to be exactly what Cam wants and what he thought he wouldn't get again--the chance to be the one in control and in charge. And what follows is incredibly hot and sweet at the same time as both find ways to open up to more of their real selves.

This reads like two excellent books in one as the first half of the book is packed with smoking hot love scenes that push the boundaries, both for the characters and for the reader. Then, the second half of the book is much sweeter with far fewer love scenes as it explores what it means for these characters to move beyond a casual fling. This is where James really shines, and if the first half of the book is a bit too hot for you, you will really appreciate the way James slows things down and deals with the deeper issues confronting both characters. Unlike so many Romantica offerings that try convince readers that a lasting HEA can come from a weekend or two of hot lovin', James acknowledges that a real relationship requires more than sexual compatibility and that character growth requires time for both the H/h to be worthy of their HEA. I got a little misty at the epilogue as I really, truly believed in the changes shown for both and in the HEA. Smoking hot + emotional = Big Win.

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