There’s a lot of Lorelei James fans that prefer either the Rough Riders or the Blacktop Cowboys.  I’m more flexible.  I do think RR was a better series until this point.   🙂

What are y’all reading?  I’m knee dip in mysteries and romantic suspense right now.  I did line up some historicals Friday though so I’ll be sharing those with y’all later.  They sound really good so I’m excited about getting to them.

turn & burn

Tanna Barker, wild child and world champion barrel racer, is about as down as a person can get.  Life has dealt Tanna some rough blows lately.  The death of her mother, betrayal of her father, the loss of the ranch she called home and always thought would be there, and an accident in the ring resulting in considerable injury to herself and death to her horse, Jezebel.  Essentially homeless and broke Tanna’s accepted a friends offer of temporary summer employment at The Split Rock in Muddy Gap, Wyoming.

Augustus Fletcher aka Doc or Fletch is a large animal vet.  Alone in his practice his life is revolves around work.  Firm in his belief that no woman or relationship can handle the demands of his profession his personal life is a series of one night stands or very short term quasi relationships.  However; his friends’ married happiness and his most recent interlude with an unnamed Texas cowgirl have him questioning that belief.

TURN AND BURN is without question my favorite in Ms. James’ Blacktop Cowboy series.  Tanna has lost a lot in the past couple years yet she’s grown enough to realize how spoiled and selfish she was.  There’s still a deep down pain and her inability to deal with it gives her nightmares and holds her back.  There’s quite a bit more truth and growth in Tanna’s future.  The combination of ways Ms. James resolves Tanna’s conflicts are realistic and individually suited to her.  It’s not one aha! flash of insight moment when everything becomes clear nor is it easy but that’s as it should be.  It’s perfect given her character and circumstances.

Fletch has a few issues of his own but not near as many as Tanna.  He also does a better job of facing and dealing with them.  Fletch is a gentle giant but not someone you’d want to cross.

This is not erotica where you “open to any random page” and discover explicit scenes.  Tanna and Fletch sizzle but even from the beginning there’s more focus on their emotional connection and depth.

Ms. James distinguishes her books from many others in the genre in several ways.

First is the complexity and depth of her characters including the secondary players.  I adore the Mud Lilies and love that the older characters aren’t marginalized or treated dismissively.  They’re respected, valued, and very much a part of the action.  One of my favorite scenes is when the Mud Lilies initiate Tanna.  The scene that actually brought tears to my eyes also involved one of the Mud Lilies.

It’s never just about sex.  Sure, there’s plenty of spice and heat but there’s always that underlying emotional and mental connection that transcends mere sex.  Tanna and Fletch really plumb those depths on their journey.  Very satisfying.

Ms. James’ personal knowledge of cowboys, ranch’s, and rodeo life give outsiders an intimate insider’s look at the reality rather than the Hollywood version.  Not for everyone but I love experiencing it vicariously.

There’s a strong sense of continuity, community, and family.  Within that framework we catch up on the lives of previously introduced characters in a completely natural way thanks to that connectivity.  Almost like visiting home.

Fletch and Tanna definitely spoke to me and I really liked who Tanna grew to be.  In my humble opinion TURN AND BURN delivered on every level and set the standard for subsequent books to measure up to.

4 stars/tail switches