January 12, 2010

...The bigger they are, the harder they fall—in love...

Soldier Cameron McKay has found his niche, and it ain’t ropin’ steers and wearin’ spurs. His deputy sheriff job, plus battle injuries that ended his military career, keep him right where he wants to be: Off the ranch and away from his family’s pity. His darkest war memories are on lockdown, leaving him skeptical he’ll ever find a woman who wants a man who’s less than whole.

Domini Katzinski has had to control every aspect of her life since age eleven, when she was orphaned in the Ukraine. Watching others’ relationships crumble has convinced her to focus on the short-term and find a take-charge man to whom she can relinquish total sexual control. Cam fits the bill: gorgeous, with a brooding vulnerability no one else seems to see. Plus, he has his own handcuffs.

Once Cam gets over his surprise that sweet, shy Domini wants to be dominated, he is back to issuing orders. Their passion is as hot as a rocket-propelled grenade—and if Domini has her way, it’s a one-shot deal. Cam wants more, and launches a full-out sensual assault…until tragedy strikes, forcing him to change tactics as he tries to keep past demons from blowing their future together all to hell...

Warning: this book contains down and dirty games of good cop/bad cop, salty language, sweet 'n hot lovin', menage a trois, and hooah! a hero packin' serious heat.

Cam(eron) McKay has returned home from Iraq with a war injury that leaves him eternally crippled and this affects his self-image greatly. He has a hard time accepting it both physically and emotionally and shields himself from family and women by living solitary and dedicating all his time to his job as a deputy sheriff. Domini Katzinski has had a thing for Cam since like forever. When they share a steamy kiss, she thinks she's making progress but Cam doesn't follow through on it, worse, after the kiss he flees so fast from her he's about to leave skid marks. Domini still longs for him but doesn't dare make another move for fear of rejection. Then Keely McKay, Cam's sister gives Domini some advice she puts to good use and things get rolling. However before they can ride into the sunset together, there are a lot of issues to deal with, issues that eventually bring them closer together than ever!

Domini is hardworking, sweet and kinda shy. She is reserved and quiet but doesn’t let people boss her around. Sometimes she's a bit insecure and with Cam sexually submissive but she's no pushover or a doormat. This was very refreshing! Cam doesn't beat around the bush. He is bossy and a take-charge kind of man. He's straight up linear and expects the same from others, no embellishing or skirting around the real issues. Except for his true feelings for Domini. He's in love with her from the start but because her only stipulation going into their thing was that it wouldn't get serious (just sex) and because he's afraid of losing her if she uncovers his feelings, he keeps quiet about them.

Both Cam and Domini are a perfect mix of strength and vulnerability. I was impressed by the way Lorelei James incorporated the issue of Cam's disability into the story and into his (sexual) relationship with Domini. It doesn't have a prominent place in it but is an important factor that cannot be overlooked. And Domini doesn't baby or spare Cam because of it. A piece of great characterization! This and the gradual reveal of Domini's personality and background/history kept me once more engaged and invested in the story and gave it yet again it's unique place in the series.

Domini and Cam are realistic characters with real problems. This is something I love in Lorelei James' books. They're not the fairytale-ish, all-problems-work-themselves-out-magically kind. No, in these moving and emotional books the characters have to work on their issues, work hard to compromise and get to the point they can look out to a happy future.

Lorelei James' secondary characters are truly added bonuses in every single book. In SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY there were two who grabbed my attention. One familiar and one new. I learned a lot more about Keely, the only girl among the McKay siblings and as I was reading this book, knowing that her book was waiting for me on my TBR pile, I couldn’t wait to start reading her book! She knows exactly what her brothers need and want but she's so oblivious to her own HEA waiting in the wings.

“See? That’s why you two fit so perfectly.” Keely leaned into Domini. “You’re quiet and sweet, but that’s deceiving because you have an inner core of pure steel. I always thought Cam would need a woman who is as hardheaded and tenacious as he is. But Cam needs someone like you, a woman who gives him a soft place to land as well as quiet strength. You understand him in ways none of us ever have.” Keely’s eyes filled with tears and Cam felt himself tearing up. “I will always be grateful to you for that. And I am so happy you found each other.”

And then there was Brock Tennyson, Cam's best friend, who saved him when he was injured in Iraq. I am so very sad Brock ain't a McKay, and therefore it’s definitely no a sure thing of him getting his own book, because he really made my heart go pitter-patter and I am hoping with all hopes there's at least a novella story for him in the future but would settle for any secondary appearance in future books too.

Brock’s six-foot two-inch frame unfolded from the sports car. He wore his usual aviator shades, jungle print camo pants, and combat boots. The difference between this uniform and his official army uniform was the dark green tank top with “That’s MISTER Asshole to you” emblazoned on the front.

I adore Lorelei James' characters, both main and secondary, both men and women. In SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY they all entranced me once again. I was pulled deep into the family dynamics Lorelei James is a master at writing and into the emotional story between Cam and Domini. There were several scenes that brought a lump to my throat. Lorelei James does not pull punches, be it sexual, be it emotional, she puts her readers through the wringer and SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY is certainly no exception!

And the sex scenes? Hot as hell! There were numerous scenes where Cam's take-charge attitude made me go tingly all over. Contrary to the last two books in this series (BRANDED AS TROUBLE and STRONG SILENT TYPE) which were pretty vanilla, SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY touches the D/s element of BDSM in a way that is not elaborate but yet very clarifying of how it works. I loved how shy Domini explained clearly to Cam what she wanted from him sexually and how she wanted to be submissive to his sexual dominance but she would not be a pushover or tolerate bossiness.

This series just never bores. It's one of the few series I dare to recommend reading back to back as it is never repetitive but rather each book is an enhancement to both the previous and the following ones and without annoying cliffhangers. Lorelei James never fails to please me with her Rough Riders, every book is a hit, and every book makes me crave the next like addicts crave their fix. Every time I read a Rough Rider book it's like being welcomed in a loving embrace of familiarity and comfort. It's like coming home.

He licked the shell of her ear and his hands tracked her bound arms from her shoulders to her wrists. “Sweet Domini, who has a hankering to be dominated, I am so gonna f*ck you until you scream. But first—” he tugged her arms down and sank his teeth into the nape of her neck, “—I’m gonna play hard and dirty with you.”

Domini’s heart raced at the wild look in Cam’s eyes. This was the predator. The alpha. She, shy Domini Katzinski, brought out that beastly side in Cameron McKay.

“Darlin’, when they manufacture one that can do all the things my hot, wet tongue and my soft lips and sucking mouth can do, well, then I might be worried.” He grinned with pure male confidence. “Then again, maybe not.”

“You said double yum and I’m wondering if that’s some kind of Ukrainian slang for ‘dumb ass you’re late’.” “No. That’s American slang for you look and smell yummy.” Cam actually blushed. The man could fu*k her like an animal and demand all sorts of kinky things from her, but a compliment caused him to blush? She bit back a grin.

Today Cam strode directly to her. The gleam in his eye was unmistakable. No hello. No smile. Cam just planted his lips on hers and kissed her with passion, hunger and total possession. In public. The only place they touched were lips and tongues until Cam reached for her hand, sweeping his ragged thumb across her knuckles. Domini’s knees threatened to buckle. This man could undo her with a simple touch.

Holy shit did Domini kiss him. Seductively. Wantonly. Relentlessly. She licked and bit his lips as her tongue tasted and teased. Her kisses destroyed him, turning him into a raging beast; her caresses tamed him into a junkie who craved her touch.

“Let me finish. I fell in love with you so goddamned hard and fast my ass is still sore. The thing is, I fought it from the first time I set eyes on you, which is partially why I tried to just stay friends with you.” (...) “You fill a part of me that’s been empty since before I lost my damn leg. For the first time in my life I feel like a whole man. Not because you accept my handicap, but because you accept me. All of me.” Cam’s hand shook as his knuckle drifted down the side of her face. “You own my soul, Domini. You are my heart.”

*) 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 Domini and Cam!

Rating: 9.2 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

Click HERE to visit Lorelei’s website


Leontine said...

It's with these kind of reviews you get me in to trouble Pearl *grin* The good kind ;) I'm so glad I have got this series on the shelves. It will take me a while to get to this novel in the series but dang, it is going to be one hell of a ride and you know how I heart D/s, even if it is a natural chemistry between H/H and not overly elaborate. Pearl, you're a true advocate for this series!

Mandi said...

We've talked about this series on Twitter..it is my goal to start it in 2010!! I like that you say these are real characters with real problems...and it is a hot book..sounds great :)

Patti said...

I keep saying I don't want to read a cowboy romance but your review makes me want to read this one!

ErotRomReader (Janna) said...

O wow Pearl, a 9.2 rating! I still have this on my TBR, I first have to read two previous books in the series, but I'm so looking forward to it! None of the RR books have disappointed me so far. This is a great series, I agree it never bores!

Smokinhotbooks said...

I'm with Patti but you make it very very difficult to not add Loreli James to my TBR pile {quickly adds to goodreads}

Tracy said...

I have this book but haven't read it yet. I want to pull it out and read it now. Thanks for the review!

Pearl said...

@Leontine > You know how much I love Lorelei James. I gladly like to spread the word about her ;)

@Mandi > Seriously! You won't regret reading this series! It's so hot AND emotional. A beautiful family saga with realistic characters whom you can so easily relate and connect to AND some hot smexin'! I can't wait to see what she'll do with the new series.

@Patti and KC > Trust me I was the last romance reader on this planet who'd pick up a cowboy romance. I stayed far away from them, very very far away!!!! Until Lorelei...she really made a believer out of me! Am still not a big fan of cowboy romance and very picky but Lorelei is auto-buy!

@Janna > You have so much good stuff to look forward to still! If I could one day re-read this series would be first on my list!

@Tracy > you're welcome!! This book is so worth reading! Cam and Domini are amazing together and the whole story surrounding them....heartbreaking!!

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39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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Pearl has read 10 books toward her goal of 50 books.

On My TBR Shelf

  • Unforgivable - Laura Griffin
  • Snapped - Laura Griffin
  • Darkness at Dawn - Elizabeth Jennings
  • Sizzle and Burn - Alexis Grant
  • No Mercy - Lori Armstrong
  • Animal Magnetism - Jill Shalvis
  • Crazy for Love - Victoria Dahl
  • Kink - Saskia Walker/Sasha White
  • So Sensitive - Anne Rainey
  • Dark Taste of Rapture - Gena Showalter
  • The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
  • Vampire in Atlantis - Alyssa Day
  • Vampire Dragon - Annette Blair
  • Captive Spirit - Anna Windsor
  • Chosen by Blood - Virna DePaul
  • Rebel - Zoe Archer
  • Stranger - Zoe Archer
  • A Taste of Desire - Beverley Kendall
  • Mistress by Midnight - Maggie Robinson
  • To Desire a Devil - Elizabeth Hoyt
  • To Tame a Dangerous Lord - Nicole Jordan

Digital TBR Next

  • Driven - Jayne Rylon (reread)
  • Shifting Gears - Jayne Rylon
  • Beg Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Tempt Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Jazz Baby - Lorelie Brown
  • Playboy Prankster - Pamela Britton
  • Just Like That - Erin Nicholas
  • Sweet Inspiration - Penny Watson
  • Breathe - Donna Alward
  • My Gigolo - Molly Burkhart
  • Scent of Persuason - Nikki Duncan

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