Despite being a born and bred Easterner, I’ll happily admit to enjoying a good Western romance. The small town atmosphere that usually accompanies these books is always a pleasure and a real cowboy, one with a sense of honor and a direct approach to getting his woman, fits my romantic ideal to a “T”. That’s T for Texas, folks, that hot and steamy home of cowboys who can knock your boots off if they kiss you right.
They are like Scotsman but with boots instead of kilts.
I actually read the third book of the series first as a NetGalley review and was so utterly charmed by it that I had to read the first two. I’m so glad I did! The Garahan family is comprised of a hardworking trio of cowboys who are desperate to save the ranch that has been in their family for generations in the middle of Pleasure, Texas. The Circle-G with its feed bill and mortgage payment needs money like a steer needs fresh pasture and the Garahan brothers – Tyler, Dylan and Jesse – can barely make ends meet working dawn until way after dusk.
In the first book, Tyler, when the oldest Garahan brother sees a job listing at the new bar that’s opened up in town, he figures he can make some extra money lugging kegs. He’s startled when the lush figured, no-nonsense redheaded owner, Jolene Langley, asks him to strip. He didn’t realize that this was a strip club and that a real live sexy cowboy is great for business. He begins to think the money isn’t worth it until the second sexy redhead walks out to join her cousin.
Emily Langley might be covered in chocolate after losing a battle with her mixer and some brownie batter, but all Tyler can think is that he wants to lick it off her considerable chest. Those whiskey-colored eyes hold a sweetness that make this bookkeeper warm something deep inside him that none of his ex-girlfriends have touched before. When he realizes that someone is out to stop the Lucky Strike club from succeeding, all his protective instincts are aroused (a long with some other parts of him).
Emily and Jolene are hilarious spitfires who give feisty a capital “F” and the crew at the Lucky Strike are a nice mix of minor characters. The heat between Tyler and Emily is off the charts, with both their scarred hearts taking a chance on one another. The snootypants prisses from the town (who want to change the town’s name from Pleasure to Emerson since it’s less risque) provide a good foil and there is a ton of small town atmosphere, always a hit with romance lovers. We get a good sense of taciturn Dylan and talkative Jesse, and the fact that all three brothers have regular fistfights to blow off steam is an adorable indication of the machismo factor at the ranch.
In the second book, Dylan, the quietest of the Garahan brothers agrees to take over for Tyler, who has had a nasty run in with a bull at the end of the previous book. In one of Dylan’s early performances he is asked to lasso a blindfolded brunette celebrating her birthday, but when the blindfold comes off he is astonished to find a glaring pair of emerald eyes. The undertones of vulnerability in those same peepers reel him in for a mind-blowing kiss, but when he asks her to stay and meet him after the show, she gives him sass like he’s never received. Rather than put off, he’s turned on beyond belief.
Ronnie DelVecchio is a transplant from New Jersey. She’s fled an ex-husband who decided to have an affair with her best friend and her heart is more than a little wary. Add to that the DelVecchio curse – that once every other generation a DelVecchio woman loses her heart to a pureblooded Irishman and promptly has twins – and she’s running away fast from Dylan Garahan, despite the pull of those incredible kisses. But running away is slightly complicated by the fact that her friend Emily has arranged for Dylan to help Ronnie put her store back together after the town vandals decimated the interior. The fact that she’s supposed to be paying him by cooking her home-cooked Italian cuisine for the brothers puts her right in arm’s reach of that quiet middle brother who is short on talk but long on action.
Since I’m originally from Northern New Jersey, Ronnie’s character of a hot-tempered, loving Italian who believes firmly in her family’s curse is a fabulous character I immediately loved. After having her heart broken by her philandering husband, it’s easy to understand why she is not ready to leap back into love. Her gut tells her that she is in danger whenever Dylan is around. He might hesitate to talk, but his tender actions and hot loving tells her practically everything she needs to know about the kind of man he is. Dylan gave his heart to his childhood sweetheart only to get hurt when she wiped the dust of town off her feet eight years later and headed off to adventure. But he never felt like this about anyone, and he’s not about to let go of Ronnie. You will love the law that gets invoked at the end of the book!
Poor Jesse. We saw his friend Lori break his heart (for the second time) in Dylan, and Jesse now sports a barbed wire tattoo around his arm to symbolize how he isn’t going to let any woman get past it to his heart. Until he stops to help a gorgeous blond with car trouble, that is. One look at Danielle Brockway and her tiny daughter, Lacey, and he falls hard for both of them.
Danielle doesn’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire. Her rodeo husband left her and their daughter, taking all of Danielle’s hard earned savings while he was at it, and she’s retreated to Pleasure to stay with her loving uncle who owns the town diner. She might be attracted to the hunky youngest Garahan but she’s a mother first and she needs to do what’s best for Lacey.
Little Lacey steals the show. She’s the tiniest cowgirl in pink boots and a matching hat she wears to bed every night, and Jesse being a real cowboy puts her over the moon. Jesse wants Danielle and Lacey at the ranch all the time, but is harboring a secret. He’s taken an outside job to help with the mortgage payment (no, not at the strip club) and is being secretive about it with everyone. Danielle is worried she might have picked another man who is going to put her second, but she’s bolstered by seeing the loving Garahan family in action. Any man who comes from this crew is bound to be a solid citizen.
I might have wanted to shake Jesse a couple times in this book, but he’s likely to be my favorite Garahan so far (fear not, Tyler and Dylan, I still love you both). C. H. Admirand does a great job of showing how brusque cowboys can still be Southern sweet-talkers when they want to be and if the sex they dish out is any indication, there will be hordes of women moving to Texas post-haste. The best part of the book is when the Garahan cousins – the cops from New York and the U. S. Marshals from Colorado come out to join in the town of Pleasure’s annual party. I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that Admirand isn’t an author who would tease a reader with a bunch of sexy, single male cousins and then not deliver on future books starring them. Don’t disappoint me, Ms. Admirand! :-)
If you feel like a little twang, a wonderful small town, hot lovin’, and some sexy cowboys who find the women who make them sit up and realize what love is, you are more than ready to add The Secret Life of Cowboys series to your reading shelf. Jesse doesn’t come out until July 1st, but you can get started with Tyler and Dylan. But let me warn you. Reading about Texas in the summer is H-O-T, so be sure to have a cold glass of sweet tea nearby to cool yourself down.