The Longmire book series just keep getting better; makes me want to visit Wyoming and ride a horse.
I was immediately engrossed by Smoky Mountain Tracks, my first book by Donna Ball. As a dog fanatic, I loved that Raine (main character) owned a kennel, did canine training and volunteered for Search & Rescue. Set in a small mountain town where everyone knows everyone else, Raine is asked to help find a missing, possibly kidnapped child and won't give up until she solves the mystery.
The only negative for me was Raine's relationship with her estranged husband Buck, who she had married young and divorced once. There were few details about their marriage, apart from the fact that she thought he had cheated. Did he and why? There seemed to be too much unfinished business, which was not addressed or defined. Why hadn't she divorced him again? Regardless, I will get her next book.
Travis, the 3rd Walker brother novel, is well written with interesting characters and lots of enthusiastic (but not violent) sex. While I'm not interested in male on male sex scenes, Travis and Gage were engrossing characters, but I really liked Kyle (Travis's estranged wife). She was strong, funny and honest, even the an familiar situation of being with 2 men.
The small town setting with numerous family and friends added depth to the story, although the idea of building a sex-themed resort in a rural Texas county seems weird to me. And the fact that all the Walkers brothers are into different types of kinky sex stretches the imagination a bit. However, this is fiction and quite entertaining.
While this novel was extremely well written and sometimes funny, the virgin meets domineering brothers plot is old and insulting to female intelligence.
Note: choosing to be in a poly relationship is different than being lured to a foreign country, seduced without full disclosure and asked to become a mindless sex slave.
In addition to giving up into emotional and sexual domination, Piper is convinced that physical abuse is somehow sexy & acceptable behavior. I just wanted to throw up!
Last week, I started listening to the Marriage Bargain and quickly lost interest. I can't even remember enough to describe the plot - guess that says it all.
Brandt Mckay will do anything to protect Jessie, the widow of his cheating brother Luke. The book starts with a raw scene where Jessie is drunk and desperate for physical affection. It was disturbing but important to understanding the characters.
Brandt is probably the best of the McKay men, although he and his brothers take too much crap from their over bearing father. Brandt and Jessie get stuck taking care of Luke's love child for a few months and become closer friends & eventually lovers.
Jessie was an strong, engaging character who drew me into the story; Brandt was caring, likable and loyal while needing to grow a backbone. I was torn over who should raise the child, yet satisfied with the conclusion. Happily Brandt seems to be the only McKay man who didn't get his rocks off dominating & bullying women.
I was expected Keely, the only girl child in the McKay clan for 100+ years, to fall for a more interesting man than Jack Donohoe. Keely is an engaging character, mature, loving, smart and full of life.
Jack wants Keely to pretend to be his fiance, in exchange for help in getting the building for her medical center renovated. Very tired plot and boring male love interest.
It was amusing & extremely ironic when Keely's brothers and cousins all threatened Jack if he wasn't good to Keely; this from men who routinely beat & abuse the women they profess to love.
I normally enjoy stories about cowboys, small towns and large families, however the McKays are a strange clan. The men are basically bullies. The women are likable, interesting and very fertile who accept domestic violence as normal. So not romantic to me...
Plot: Thorpe, sex club owner takes in teen runaway Callie and gives her a safe place to live and eventually a job. Years later, Callie is in love with Thorpe who thinks she's too young for him. Callie goes for another Dom (Sean) to get Thorpe jealous, but falls in love with him too.
Callie was a great character - funny, spunky, smart and caring; I wanted her to find love and have a great life. However, I found the violence and exhibitionism of the sex club a strange & creepy setting for a love story. To me, hitting, whipping, dominating and humiliating women is criminal behavior, not foreplay.
Shayla Black is an incredibly talented writer; she creates engrossing characters and uses humor well. In another setting and without the BDSM crap, I would have enjoyed this novel.
I really liked how the main couple was over 30 and acted like it. There were lots of fun family and friends to add depth to the romance. Some hot sex but no violence (BDSM).
Chase, the youngest and shortest McKay brother, wasn't that interesting to me. He's a rodeo star who gets as much attention for his sexual escapades as his athletic ability. Since he's over 21, I expected a more mature and engaging hero - maybe someone who appreciated having a loving family and financial security. I did like his non-violent and respectful attitude toward women
Chase meets Ava, an actress (from a rich & caring family) who was just embarrassed by having her boyfriend publicly announced he was gay. Ava also seems a little immature and whiny - she had artistic talent, good health, and the freedom to pursue interests but choose to dwell on minor problems.
To me, the best parts of Chasin' Eight were the details about cowboys & rodeos, the down-to-earth people involved in the sport, and glimpses of small town life. Might have liked this book more when I was in my late teens or twenties.
I didn't find Zane & Vanessa's story as good as I had hoped. While well written with good characters, there was too much sexual violence for my taste.
In the first book, the Walker brothers seemed more well-rounded and multi-faceted, not just sex crazed men who think with their dicks. And the women seemed stronger and more independent and fun.
Nicole Edwards is a extremely talented writer, so I will probably try her next book, in hopes that she jumps off the dominant bandwagon.
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