January 15, 2010

...Pulling off the ultimate con... if they can keep from pulling off their clothes.

Keely McKay knows Jack—and Jack Donohue is a certified pain in her Wranglers. The lone girl in the prolific McKay family, Keely needs another man giving her orders like she needs a hole in her boot. What she does need is a restoration specialist so she can open her physical therapy clinic—and prove she’s left her wild-child days behind. That means dealing with buttoned-down, uptight Jack.

Jack is this close to securing a career make-or-break project, until he learns his lack of marital status puts him out of contention. When the notoriously hot-tempered and hot-bodied Keely begs him for help, he proposes a crazy idea. He’ll oversee her project—if she acts the part of his loving fiancée.
Their sizzling lust makes it all too easy to go from butting heads to knocking boots—but outside the bedroom they’re as mismatched as ever. The McKays remind Jack of the humble upbringing he left behind, and cowgirl Keely feels she doesn’t measure up to Jack’s big-city lifestyle.

When the dust settles, Jack and Keely must face the fact they’re not fooling anyone but themselves—or they’ll risk losing the real deal.

Warning: this book contains one hot-blooded cowgirl and one cool-headed businessman in a stripped-down, revved-up game of sexual truth or dare.

Since Jack Donohue is Keely McKay's brother Carter's best friend and Keely dated Jack's little brother Justin for a while, they have known each other for a very long time. They had a short tryst at Colt and India's wedding reception but the way that ended just made things worse. The farther they stay away from each other, the better. Unfortunately no can do because it turns out Keely needs on Jack to make her dream of opening a health care center in Sundance come true. A certified architectural restoration specialist is required and Jack is the only one available. In turn, Jack needs Keely in order to be considered for a prestigious project. The committee overseeing this project is very conventional and traditional and Jack's lack of marital status is an impediment. Jack suggests a trade-off. She pretends to be his fiancé so he can get the project and he oversees and approves her restoration. Easy peasy...if not for their clashing personalities and the undeniable chemistry between them.

Let me start by setting the scene for you: Keely McKay detests Jack Donohue with a vengeance. Jack thinks Keely is a pain in the ass! I loved their "nicknames" for each other: Keely has GQ and Jack-off for Jack and Keely goes by cowgirl and buttercup for Jack. But the chemistry between them is off the scales and somewhere along this book things start to change emotionally too.

The jerk who’d left her high and dry at her brother’s wedding reception three years ago. Jack Donohue. That bitch fate had a nasty sense of humor.

Jack Donohue believed he’d adequately prepared himself for meeting Keely McKay. Boning up on his sarcasm. Practicing his disdain. Confident those reactions would prevent his instantaneous red-hot jolt of desire.

“Maybe you’re afraid I can make you fall in love with me for real.” “Make me fall in love with you? Dude. The only thing you make me want to do is punch you in the face.”

When I started SHOULA BEEN A COWBOY I already had ALL JACKED UP on my digital shelves because I only got around to reading Cam's story after ALL JACKED UP was released. I was planning to read it somewhere in the beginning of 2010 but of course my plans got all screwed up because the moment I finished SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY I knew I had to read on and I started Keely's story immediately! Ever since I read RODE HARD, PUT UP WET and Jack made his entrance on the Rough Rider stage, I was smitten and I was hoping with all hopes that Lorelei James would pair him up with the only female McKay sibling and wild child: Keely. When I found out in the end of 2008 that my wish was being granted, I was in heaven and it was so lovely reading SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY and knowing that the next book was going to be Keely and Jack's.

Keely is hotheaded, sexy, sharp-tongued and quick-witted, but she's also very perceptive. In the previous books, where her brothers all found happiness, it was Keely who always set them straight when they were behaving all stubborn and alpha and it was Keely who pointed them in the right direction when the women turned their lives upside down. Reading SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY I found a deep respect for Keely in how she supported Cam through the tough rehabilitation period and how she kept him on track. Keely is very confident and sure of herself and her needs, but she's also a true people-person, she is caring, dedicated and driven. Very few things get to her but when they do, it throws her for a loop and she makes some questionable decisions. It speaks in Keely’s favor though that her intent is never to hurt, only to strike back when being hurt.

She was meeting a man. A man she didn’t know. A man she’d never spoken to. A man who held her entire future in his hands. No man ever had that much power over Keely McKay. She’d made sure of it. Even with five older brothers, and a dozen older male cousins, she’d always been the queen bee. Using her stubbornness to get her way, not her feminine wiles.

Jack is ambitious and driven. He caught my eye the minute he briefly appeared in RODE HARD, PUT UP WET and for a good reason, which has been proven in this book. He may seem the sophisticated city slicker, but deep down he's as raw and as wicked as the McKay brothers are and he's the perfect match for Keely. No need to explain further why this is another Jack that's been added to my list of favorite heroes! There were moments in the book where I did think Jack took his ambition and drive a bit too far but that was effectively taken care of in the end of the book.

Keely is good at reading people but Jack totally throws her off balance and keeps her on her toes with his unpredictability. They are very much alike. Both have drive and ambition, albeit for different reasons and with different prospects. Both want to be successful without having to depend on others. Both are trying to prove that they are more than their outward appearance may show and both of them are want to prove themselves worthy of their own lives without being judged or babied by their family. Jack and Keely do sarcastic verbal sparring like no other hero/heroine I've ever read! They take verbal fighting to a whole other level and verbal blows are an understatement where those two are concerned. In the beginning I was afraid that the edgy bantering would die a slow death once they fell in love and acknowledged those feelings but luckily it didn't. Sure, it wasn't as nasty and harsh as it was at first but they kept the banter and word fights going, even when the feelings started to emerge.

Jack through Keely's eyes:
Jack Donohue was a total contradiction. Polished, yet rugged. Confident, yet not overtly cocky. Professional, yet an air of wildness surrounded him. Down to earth, as well as aloof. Smokin’ hot, yet ice cold.

Keely through Jack's eyes:
Despite her sexual appeal, the sweetness she masked beneath insults, her thoughtfulness, her ambition, her sly sense of humor and her tendency to give all of herself to those she cared about, Keely was not the type of woman he expected he’d spend his life with.

As with all the Rough Rider books, the McKay family plays an important role in ALL JACKED UP, which of course isn't a strange thing with Keely being the youngest and a girl on top of that. The protective urges of the alpha male, and the McKays are all alphas, every single one of them, were all over the place. I loved Carson's initial reaction to Jack and the engagement, it was priceless!

Her father wasn’t so tactful. He demanded to know if she was pregnant.

And then there was the scene at the engagement party where all the McKay brothers tell Jack, one by one, that they'd gut him if he ever hurt Keely. But the most memorable example of the McKay brothers in full force was the scene where they all come for Jack (after the conflict between him and Keely reaches its climax) like 5 gunslingers from the Old West, coming for blood, coming to avenge their baby sister and after that they go and console their baby sister and offer her support. I have only one baby brother who'd defend my honor to the death (I'm sure of that) but man, I wouldn't object to some gunslingers for brothers.

As with all the previous books Lorelei James consistently offers the loyal readers of this series a look into the lives of the previous heroes and heroines, treating us to glimpses of how they and their families are doing and growing. And growing they are. Let me tell you, the McKays are one fertile and expanding bunch. I’ve lost count of the number of kids these couples have happily produced and/or adopted.

I don't know why I am even surprised but Lorelei James once again treated me to a totally different type of book compared to the previous ones in the series! As emotionally hard and tough as SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY was, ALL JACKED UP was more light and fun with lots of banter, arguing, lusting but as with all the other books also a lot of chemistry, family dynamics and genuine characters who touch your emotions in every way. Will there ever be a Lorelei James book that doesn't make me cry in the end? I highly doubt it. I don't know how she does it and I really thought to dodge the bullet with ALL JACKED UP since it was a little lighter in tone than the other books in this series, but no way...tissues were definitely needed.

Even though ALL JACKED UP started slow, both on the heavy emotions and on the hot stuff, it worked up to the pack-a-punch and scorching hot Rough Rider book I am used to getting from Lorelei James. I’m reiterating for the umpteenth time that she just doesn't disappoint with this series. Every single one is a hit and every time I think she can't come up with something better she outdoes herself and gives me another gem of a book to add to the collection of favorite books AND another hero to add to the favorite heroes list.

Jack clamped his hands on her butt. Keely shrieked but he held tight, jerking her lower body to his. “An ego isn’t the only thing that’s big about me, baby. Want to ride on the Jack-hammer? Guaranteed to rev you up all night long.”

The sexual cynic inside him laughed that only a hard-up moron became excited by stroking Keely’s cute kneecap.

That sneaky bastard.
Damn. Her entire body—blood, muscles, tissues, bones—felt as if he’d zapped her with a cattle prod. Wobbly knees, dry throat, rapid heartbeat, damp panties, haywire responses from a simple touch? Damn embarrassing. Jack had stroked, whispered and teased until she was mere seconds from mounting him.

“Oh joy, my life is complete.” She spoke against his throat. “If you would’ve pulled a no-show, I would’ve tracked you down and castrated you, Jack-off.”
(...) “I guarantee if you ever put your hands on my junk again, chopping it off will be the last thing on your mind, buttercup.”

Keely caught him looking again, and not so subtly scratched her cheek with her middle finger. His dick stirred and he grinned at her. Yeah, he had it bad that it turned him on when she flipped him off.

Then she and Jack were face to face. His wild eyes didn’t fit his matter-of-fact tone. “Say you’ll let me do every dirty thing to you I’ve ever fantasized about.”

She focused on him, slouched in a straight back kitchen chair. The glow of the backlighting gave Jack an attractively dangerous look. Barefoot, with his pristine shirt unbuttoned; his sleeves were rolled up, exposing his thick forearms lightly dusted with dark hair. Clutching a glass of amber liquid in his hand, he reminded her of James Bond—a gorgeous professional male, but ruggedly raw and masculine beneath the polished exterior. His face was shadowed, masking his emotions. But the aura surrounding him wasn’t the cool and collected demeanor of a patient man. No, the air crackled with the energy of an animal ready to pounce.

“Here’s the God honest truth. I’ve avoided getting tangled up with you because I’ll give in to you, Jack. I’ll give you everything you demand from me in bed, every part of myself I’ve never shared with another man. I’m a strong-willed woman. I’m used to calling the shots with men. But when I look at you, I have the overwhelming need to…surrender. I’ve felt the sexual heat shimmering between us since I was sixteen and I had no clue what it was.”

The self-admission was not the shock to his system he’d imagined. He suspected he loved her all along and he’d fought it, creating elaborate excuses and lying to himself that sex and circumstance made him feel this way. But as Jack looked at her, he really saw her. Her. The woman who owned him. He’d found the once in a lifetime, bone deep, straight to the soul kind of love he’d never believed in.
He kept kissing her until she responded with the sweetness, goodness and heat that filled the empty part of his soul. He hadn’t understood the depth of the missing piece until she came into his life.

*) Using the same Quotes-disclaimer here as in the SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY review: There are much more quotes in this review than I am used to include in my reviews but I really couldn't leave 'em out! I had even more but unfortunately I don't have the time to do a Quote Post at the moment. I have saved them because you never know if there might be some more time in the future to do some Quote Posts of the Rough Rider series. For now enjoy these and let them entice you to read the whole story of Keely and Jack!

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

My other reviews in the Rough Rider series:
1. Long Hard Ride
2. Rode Hard, Put Up Wet
3. Cowgirl Up and Ride
4. Tied Up, Tied Down
5. Rough, Raw and Ready
6. Branded as Trouble
6.5 Strong, Silent Type
7. Shoulda Been a Cowboy

Click HERE to visit Lorelei’s website


Ina said...

Thanks so much for your reviews! I've ordered the books and can't wait to start reading :)
greetings, Ina

ErotRomReader (Janna) said...

I liked Keeley from the beginning, she's such a feisty and wonderful woman! You say Jack made his first entrance in the series in Rode Hard, Put Up Wet? *lightbulb* Nooo, was he the third person in the threesome that didn't happen?! O yes, he stole my heart too!
I can't wait to read the story of this wonderful couple now!!
Thanks for the wonderful review :)

Patti said...

I haven't read anything by Lorelei James but I think I'm going to start! This sounds good - I'm off to look into the series!

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