Thursday, May 12, 2011

Five Umbrellas: Saddled and Spurred by Lorelei James

Sorry for falling behind in reviews! I'm working (finally!!!) on another writing project, and it's cutting into both my review writing time and my reading time. BUT, we have 31 followers now, so I will be giving away a book tomorrow with my pick of the week!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars. Saddled and Spurred is Book 2 in Lorelei James’s new Blacktop Cowboys series. However, it totally stands on its own and is one of the best choices for those new to James’s amazing voice as it’s super-sexy without delving too far into kinky and has a super-sweet HEA ending that will have readers cheering. Harper is one of my absolute favorite James heroines. She’s a former beauty queen who only competed to help provide for her sisters. Her strong work ethic leads her to the last job she ever thought she’d take: working as a ranch hand for sexy cowboy Bran Turner.

They both need to make this unlikely employment situation work for the short-term—Bran’s usual ranch hand is recovering from an accident, and Harper is set to leave town when her sister graduates High School. I love that Harper never feels an ounce of self-pity and simply does what needs to be done. Her mother’s a deadbeat who alienated most of the people in town, but Harper just keeps doing what she needs to in order to get her sister to graduate. She’s a nice person too—she keeps doing the nails for little old ladies even when Bran pays her enough to drop that part-time job. She’s never delivered a calf or fixed fence, but she’s a hard worker and she impresses Bran with far more than just her beauty queen looks.

Bran is such an awesome hero—he’s a lot like Brandt from Cowgirls Don’t Cry (James’s other series) in that he’s a little shy and reserved. But unlike Brandt, who was more of a Beta hero, Bran has a hidden alpha streak that really wants to come out to play. Harper also has an inner bad girl buried under years of responsibilities and obligations, so when sparks start flying between her and Bran, the resulting lust explosion is spectacular.

As a professional woman, I often have trouble getting into boss/employee stories as sexual harassment is a very real problem for both men and women, particularly in this bad economy, where like Harper, workers may not feel they can get another job. Instead of just ignoring this issue like so many books do, James actually addresses it. Bran is reluctant to make any sort of move for precisely that reason, and he lets Harper set the rules for keeping work & play separate (and he actually follows them). The fact that their employment relationship is very short-term also enables them to take this risk and enhances believability.

The build-up to their fling is sweet and gradual and filled with lots of humorous scenes of Harper adjusting to ranch work. I adore a good fish-out-of-water story. Once the fling starts, the love scenes are scorching—James doesn’t hold back, and while more balanced between narrative and love scenes than some of James’s other works, this is still one sexy book with no-holds-barred explicit love scenes. What’s really nice though is that there is so much emotion underscoring the love scenes—this is what James does best, and why I am addicted to her. Even when a coupling seems temporary, James layers in the emotion and complications so beautifully. It’s all a part of her unique gift for creating memorable characters, including some great secondary characters. We see some of the same characters from Book 1, and there are a couple of spoilers for book 1’s events, but I think that the series can be enjoyed out of order.

I should also mention that I resisted getting into this series until I exhausted James’s entire backlist because I just really don’t like agency pricing which makes this title $9.99 for an ebook while her Samhain releases of the same length and (superb) quality are more around $5 in ebook form. However, James is absolutely an author who deserves to be in front of a wider audience, and she’s not the one setting the prices or the policies here. This is awesome story, and I wasn’t disappointed at all—it was well worth the 9.99 for a guaranteed great read from one of my favorite authors.


  1. Loved, loved, loved this book, too! Too bad it wasn't "lendable" yet so you could've borrowed it from me :-/ Oh well, I know you're oh, so disappointed that you actually had to buy it! HAHA (yes that was sarcasm)

  2. A Lorelei James book has never disappointed me so far! I haven't read the this one, yet, but I loved the first one and all of her Rough Rider's books.