Double Review: Long Hard Ride and Rode Hard, Put Up Wet

I am officially all caught up with Lorelei James’s Rough Riders series. I am now awaiting book 10 Cowgirls Don’t Cry as well as the short story Slow Ride which are to be released November 9. Want to know more? Here’s Lorelei’s site. Without further adieu, my reviews for books one and two of the Rough Riders series.

In Long Hard Ride we meet Colby McKay and Channing Kinkaid. When Channing finds out that the cowboy she was looking for an adventure with is married, she finds herself alone again. Colby is unable to resist making an offer to her. Travel with him and his buddies Trevor and Edgard to be their personal buckle bunny for a week. Channing’s fantasies are fulfilled and Colby finds himself in an unusual position. Wanting to settle down with one woman. He wants Channing to himself for good.

Channing is independent and intelligent, but she hasn’t found that one place she belongs yet. Her parents carved out a perfect life for her in the world of BMW’s and high-class private schools, but that’s not what she wants out of life. In fact, a cowboy hat and chap wearing man seems to be all she needs. Colby is only too happy to be her man. He’s confident and dominant and taken aback by the strength of his feelings for Channing. Their chemistry is off the charts though, and makes for a steamy relationship, but there’s much more than just a roll in the hay for the two of them.

My thoughts:

I’ll admit it, when I first started reading this book I was shocked. I didn’t know what to expect. The book is graphic – here’s a quick hint: the warnings on the back of the book and on the website in the descriptions, listen to them. There was an emotional depth to the romance, that tear-jerking sensation that one usually looks to a good romance novel for but it was matched with equally potent sex scenes. There is a constant sexual tension throughout the book which makes the rest all the more gratifying, but the erotic part never takes over the rest of the story. Hot sex aside, I was sucked into the story really quick. I fell head over heels in love with the McKay/West family.

The family dynamic seen in this series is crazy amazing. It’s a big old family. A realistic one. This is the type of book where you read about the family and figure that if you hop a plane out to where it takes place – Wyoming in this case – and drive out to a small town, you’ll find them working hard and having large family dinners. They face real challenges and struggles and have real emotions and you can just understand them as if it were a friend telling you a story.

Colby and Channing’s relationship was certainly fun to watch grow. I really loved Channing’s character, she’s strong and doesn’t take any shit. And of course Colby is your sexy, cowboy hat wearing Wyoming rancher. Another plus about Long Hard Ride is this. It isn’t just the two main characters, Channing and Colby who we get that emotional insight into. James sets the stage for future books here as well, introducing the emotional states of other secondary characters, giving us the chance to glimpse their current situations.

The next one….

Rode Hard, Put Up Wet is book two in the Rough Riders Series. Gemma Jansen is a widowed stock contractor who’s situation is getting tougher by the day. She’s a woman in a man’s world and ultimately is showed so. She’s used to providing stock for the rodeos, but they too have been slowly pushing her out in favor of her male counterparts. Finally she realizes that she’s got to break down and get some decent help. Having opened her eyes she goes in search of Cash Big Crow. He’s a dependable cowboy who’s moved out of the realm of the rodeo into the realm of working. Cash lost everything when his family needed him to cover debts so he has no ties, no place he needs to head home to.

Cash and Gemma have been circling around each other a long time. Cash wants Gemma and she knows it, but she hides behind her widow status and age in an attempt to get Cash to leave her heart alone. But Cash’s terms are clear, he’ll work Gemma’s ranch, but only if she allows him to be in charge during after hours. Gemma agrees, though she knows it’s going to take time for her to re-adjust to the idea of being attractive to a man who wants, and can have, her when he wishes. Throughout the story, Cash helps Gemma not only re-build her business but also re-find her inner vixen and overcome her excuses of age difference and widowhood. In return Gemma gives Cash the thing he’s been looking for for years… family, love, and a home.

Since Cash has agreed to work Gemma’s ranch he also has to change plans with Macie, his daughter. Where they had originally intended to take a trip together to spend some time, Macie heads out to the Bar 9 with her dad. She meets Carter McKay who has also agreed to helping Gemma out at the ranch. Macie didn’t grow up knowing her dad too well. He was young when he got her mom pregnant and she ended up taking Macie away. Now Macie is taking her chance to get to know her dad, and even though it’s not the way she thought it would be she’s taking what she can get. Carter McKay is the youngest of his McKay brothers (he’s Colby’s brother). His calling isn’t in ranching like his other brothers, but in art instead. But when Gemma asked for his help he couldn’t say no. So Carter is staying in a trailer on the Bar 9 with a barn to use as his temporary art studio. Carter and Macie grow close, and while Cash isn’t very approving, they go about themselves anyway. All is not easy between the two, and Carter definitely oversteps his bounds a time or two, but in the end the two are able to claim their love.

My thoughts:

Another amazing read from Lorelei James.

I really loved reading Rode Hard, Put Up Wet. The big reasons are Gemma and Carter. The two characters are just so real. Gemma is so determined to make it, almost to a fault. Yet she realizes that she needs to exercise some humility and asks for help. It takes a strong person to do that. Another reason that I love Gemma’s character is her own self-doubts. As weird as that may sound, this is what I mean. She is a divorced woman in her late 40s. While I have never been divorced and am only 20, seeing Gemma come into herself again and feel good again, even with a man around ten years her junior was a delight. It not many women in her situation get that chance, so it’s good to see it happen. Carter on the other hand has moments where he plain doesn’t use his brain. While I usually shook my head and laughed at those moments, he really was just so blindly in love with Macie that he didn’t realize that what he was doing was idiotic. It was cute in an ‘Oh. My. God.’ way. His ability to admit his two left feet was also quite cute.

Again there was a high sexual tension (James actually manages this in all of the Rough Riders books) and many highly erotic scenes. They all fed into the relationships in there own way (another thing she manages throughout the series). There was the same deep emotional field in this book as the others. Moments where your laughing and crying with the characters. I love that kind of feeling in a book.

Watching the two couples learn about each other and grow together was very gratifying in this book, and when they become the strong couples that they are now, ten books in, is just plain awesome.

The bottom line here is: Long Hard Ride and Rode Hard, Put Up Wet are two amazing installments in the phenomenal Rough Riders series by Lorelei James. I cannot wait for the next release in the series November 9th.

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