Thursday, May 26, 2011

Giddy Up! It's A Long Hard Ride!

It‘s been just over a year now since I read my first ménage. I will never forget it – it’s just like the first time for anything – embedded in my memory forever. So it was then double-exciting when I got to meet Lorelei James, the author who wrote the book. It was titled Long Hard Ride but it was everything but long (it was a quick read because I couldn’t put it down) and hard (it was quite easy to read the delicious story). And I don’t even have to tell you that I now have an autographed copy on my bookshelf (yep, that’s right, a paperback book even though I only read e-books). So obviously when we decided to do a cowboy week on the blog, I immediately thought of my first ménage which just happened to have the most delicious cowboys… chocolate-dipped strawberries have nothing on these alpha males.
Long Hard Ride (Rough Riders)Long Hard Ride, the first book in the Rough Rider series by Lorelei James, is a sexy hot, crazy cowboy-style lovin’ erotica that actually managed to carry a solid storyline.  It broke my stereotype of western erotica (you know, everything you believe before you’ve actually ever read one).  Between the hot sex scenes, there’s an actual story with a complete cast of characters that I became invested in because they were real to me.  Aside from the main love story, there are also several subplots that hooked me in enough that I went book by book through the entire Rough Riders series and now watch for the newest release dates because she’s still writing about these great cowboys and their leading ladies.  So here’s your first warning… if you read one, you’ll want to read them all.
Long Hard Ride focuses on Channing Kinkaid who is itching for a wild adventure on the rodeo circuit with a cowboy she’ll never see again, just a fling before she settles down to the more responsible life her parents expect of her.  Channing has never felt like she belongs – made worse by the fact that her boyfriend she’s traveling with ends up being a creep – so now she's lonely, out of her element and looking for one last adventure.

Along comes Colby McKay - rough around the edges, dirty talking, hard playing, wild riding (in more ways than one) cowboy competing in the rodeo circuit. Yet he still got under my skin in his unique rough around the edges way. And it was the same for Channing. When they meet, it's not long before Channing takes Colby up on a proposition to spend a week with him and his two rodeo traveling partners. He knows he's found the perfect woman willing to have the kind of wild fun he likes. But what he didn’t expect was to fall in love in the process.

The evolution of their relationship, and the hidden tenderness that begins to emerge from Colby, is a gradual process that seems natural and realistic. They may jump into bed sooner than later but they don’t fall head over heels in the same moment. My heart squeezed as I watched this bad boy show affection towards Channing, something I’m sure he didn’t do with too many people. To be honest, I didn’t like Colby much in the beginning and I think this was purposeful on the part of the author. I was able to watch Colby evolve throughout the book, at the same time as his feelings for Channing changed him.  And Channing is just perfect for him since she calls Colby out when he needs it, giving as much as she gets (and she does get it a lot).
The strong focus on the romantic love story won me over. And not only did I experience Channing and Colby’s budding relationship but was introduced to other characters (featured in future books in this series) including a definite secondary relationship. What completely surprised me was the hottest scene did NOT take place between Channing and Colby, but a surprise couple. Here’s my second warning… there is some serious m/m loving going on in this book.  There was balance… plenty of hot sex (mmm… mmm… yummy cowboys) but equally intense emotional relationships too.  Lots of naughty and explicit dirty talk and lots of hot erotic moments all topped off with a sweet love story – it is the perfect balance.
Though I’ve read a lot more erotica since this book, especially in the western romance genre, Long Hard Ride continues to be one of my favorites.  Lorelei James is a great writer who has created characters worth knowing.  I’d secretly love to be a McKay – what a great family!  She spends a good portion of the book on story and character development; and I actually learned a bit about rodeo life too. And I would be remiss not to mention the deliciously hot covers in this series… don’t spend too much time drooling. Just open the book and read. You’ll love it.
RATING: 5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
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