Tag: Carolyn Brown

Guest Review: Just a Cowboy and His Baby by Carolyn Brown

Posted December 6, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 2 Comments

Judith’s review of Just a Cowboy and His Baby (Spikes & Spurs #6) by Carolyn Brown

One determined, hell-on-wheels cowgirl. One equally determined, sexier-than-hell cowboy. One innocent baby, who suddenly takes center stage and everybody’s priorities are suddenly up for grabs.

With a young baby dropped in his lap, bronc rider Trace Coleman’s world is turned upside down. Suddenly, Gemma O’Donnell, his stiffest competition on the rodeo scene, is now the one person who can help him. She’s already resisting his sexy smile and even sexier swagger, but she can’t resist a baby. When it comes down to it, only one can win, but is winning more important than love and family?

I have to admit right up front that I expected the “baby” that is captured in this novel’s title to be front and center throughout the story.  Such is not the case.  Now that is not to say that this isn’t a really cute and romantic story between two saddle bronc riders who are both bent on capturing the title and are neck and neck in the competition as they travel from rodeo to rodeo event.  Yet the story is really centered on the double track this particular relationship takes as Gemma and Trace have to deal with the hell-bent-for-leather determination both exude as they travel toward the finals while at the same time dealing with the overwhelming sexual attraction that has them both in its clutches.

Gemma is the sister of the hero in the first book in this series and a part of a large and traditional family who live in Ringgold, Texas and who are all feisty and personable and each one unique.  Yet even Gemma’s love for saddle bronc riding is a bit over the top even for this family.  Yet they support her and cheer her on.  She has leased out her beauty shop for a year so that she can live out this dream.  For Trace, however, gaining the saddle bronc riding title means that he can fulfill his commitment to his uncle to buy a ranch he has always wanted, a ranch he could have for nothing as an inheritance.  But that isn’t Trace’s way–he knows his uncle needs the money and he is determined to pay his own way.

What begins as a hot and sizzling sexual affair does indeed begin to deepen into more, something more that both Gemma and Trace are reluctant to name.  It is only as they are visiting back home with their families during a break in the rodeo schedule that they each face the possibility that they mean more to one another than hot bodies tied up between the sheets.  This is when the baby appear–the result of a weekend Trace spent with a woman who left his life as mysteriously and quickly as she appeared.  And what is even more disturbing to Trace is the fact that he is not one of those cowboys that takes advantage of the groupies who crowd around every rodeo participant after each performance.  Now what was he going to do?

This story has a bit of a different feel that some of the others in this series and it is another indication that Ms Brown manages to bring big chunks of creativity into the creation of each of her novels, even though the characters are connected by family relationship to someone in previous books.  If you have been following this series you know that the heroines are all very different and are involved in very different life pursuits.  Yet all have come to a place in their lives where a life partner becomes both a joy and a change in direction for each of them.  The reader of this novel will wonder right up to the very end who wins the championship and they will also wait almost to the end to find out how Trace and Gemma will resolve their personal issues.  Gemma’s momma is also a source of pressure in that she is insisting that Gemma stay close to home when the rodeo cycle ends.  Now how is she going to satisfy her deep love and loyalty for her family and find a way to keep Trace in her life?  The story has a stronger sense of moving through time than have any of this series’ novels have so far, at least that was my take.  Yet again I must add that the different settings for each of her stories, the edgy and very feisty nature of all her characters, especially the women, are just a couple of the factors that keep me really enjoying this author’s style as well as the content of these novels.

This story is very much focused on the day to day lifestyle of rodeo participants, perhaps more than in any other cowboy/Western romance series I have read recently except for one of Lorelei James’ recent novels.  Yet it is really about how people manage their emotions, how they manage their personal lives and futures while dealing with the stresses of a very different way of living that is very hard on individuals, relationships, and families.  It is transient and those who get deeply involved really find themselves encapsulated in that world so living what many of us would consider “normal” is not always easy.  Trace and Gemma have to walk a very fine line together and it is that tension along with their sexual attraction that keeps readers moving forward from page to page.  I found it very entertaining, a beautifully written novel, very good use of language that was enhanced by good editing.  Just a terrific read and one that deserves to be enjoyed by those who like a really good cowboy romance.

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

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Guest Review: Mistletoe Cowboy by Carolyn Brown

Posted October 10, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 3 Comments

Judith’s review of Mistletoe Cowboy (Spikes & Spurs #5) by Carolyn Brown 

Commitment! It made Sage run the other way. It made Creed shudder. But Sage’s granny, the Widow Presley, was determined to get her granddaughter a cowboy for Christmas. And who better than Creed, the man interested in purchasing the widow’s Rockin’ C Ranch?

The fact that a three-day blizzard was blowing in just made things all the better. A person can’t run from commitment when they’re snowed in, now can they?

Those readers who have read the books in this wonderful American cowboy series will find this just a bit different.  The previous four novels brought familiar characters into the story is  much greater measure than what is the case here.  Our hero, Creed Riley, is the younger brother of Ace Riley, main character featured in Book 4:  One Hot Cowboy Wedding.  Creed is a man seeking his own place, somewhere that will allow him to spread his own wings and make his own mark in the world, leave his own footprint on the planet unhampered by his very large and sometimes overbearing family.  As much as he loves them, he needs to make his own space and the Rockin’ C is where he has had a sense of “place” ever since he first walked onto the front porch.  His conditional agreement with the owner contains the caveat that the owner’s granddaughter, accomplished and successful painter Sage Presley, has a home for the length of her life.  What Creed didn’t sign on for was the storm of protest and upset he encountered and had to endure for the three days that a blizzard encased them in mountains of snow, or the three weeks she took to work through her feelings about losing the ranch to someone who wasn’t “family.”

Yet this book is really about two people who really needed to get unstuck from the past.  For Sage it was that overwhelming sense of being abandoned, continually and painfully, by almost everyone who was important to her.  She still felt deeply the loss of her parents and now her grandmother was “leaving” her to move away and live with her great-aunt, both old ladies who now needed each other’s strength.  She nearly always refused a pet because they inevitably died and “abandoned” her.  Yet in this story of very quiet holiday “miracles,” Sage and Creed are brought together, made to get to know one another, had to face the realities of life without Sage’s grandmother, and each was made to face their own fears of the future as time and life challenged them to see the future through a different set of lenses.

This is a story about love and kindness, caring and confusion, regret and redemption.  It is a story about the little things that caught Sage’s eye–gifts from those she called her “painting gods” or PG’s, ideas and shapes and vignettes that she saw as paintings she could reproduce and which became her new “Mistletoe Series.”  It all began as a funny set of seeming coincidences:  a piece of mistletoe got carried in on Creed’s shoulder or his gloves or somewhere on his person, every time he came in out of the snow after doing chores.  Slowly but surely even Creed began to notice some of these quiet but mysterious “little things” that began to translate into some very “heavy” life lessons, situations that forced Sage and then Creed to look inside themselves.  And don’t be surprised that the sexual tension between these two also had an important place in bringing these two adversaries together, not just physically but emotionally and intellectually as well.

It’s another wonderful Carolyn Brown novel full of color and caring and that sense of continuity that is what makes life interesting and fascinating in spite of the negative and the challenges that can often overwhelm and defeat.  Written with the verve and sense of liveliness that marks all her books, this novel is the kind that is hard to put down and which continues the series but with that sense of branching out and journeying into paths that take families and persons in new directions.  Ms Brown is expert in helping the reader to enter into the sense of being a part of what’s happening in the story, of being not just a witness to the story’s action but someone who is intrinsically engaged in the lives of these characters.  It’s a wonderful reading experience as it engages the mind and emotions throughout.  It is a book that simply begs to be enjoyed.

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

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Guest Review: One Hot Cowboy Wedding by Carolyn Brown

Posted July 24, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 3 Comments

Judith’s review of One Hot Cowboy Wedding (Spikes and Spurs #4) by Carolyn Brown.

The will said Ace would keep the ranch if he had a wife and stayed married for a year. Jasmine was just helping him out until Ace’s kisses left her longing for a true cowboy husband. It was supposed to be a secret wedding followed by a quiet divorce. But when they won a contest in the little wedding chapel, the secret marriage is exposed to the national media and all hell breaks lose.

With each of the books in this series I was convinced that it was not possible to keep the fun and games going, but I was wrong. When I finish one, I just can’t stop chuckling and wondering how one author can infuse so much good stuff into one book. So it is with Ace and Jasmine, two best friends–truly best friends–who have been meeting and sharing their days over good food in the kitchen of Jasmine’s restaurant. They are such good friends that Jazzy is willing to take it in the neck for Ace–help him secure his inheritance to his ranch–and they can do so quietly and without anyone knowing all about it. Oops!! and I do mean a really big Oops!! Imagine planning an elopement, one that will be a very well-kept secret, only to find out that you have walked into a pre-planned celebration that ends up plastering your wedding photos all over the TV and internet.
That’s just the start of the fun, and when you have a sassy bride like Jasmine–a former business woman who just wants to own her own restaurant, and a very handsome and personable rancher like Ace, you have the beginnings of a romance that will most certainly be unusual, to say the least. Add in Ace’s family–a rockem sockem collection of people who have no problems just saying it like they think it, and then you add in Jazzy’s mom who is bound and determined to give Jasmine the biggest Texas wedding she can put together–she’s been saving for this since the day Jazzy was born–and you have the makings of a whirlwind circus the like of which is seldom encountered in romance fiction.
In the midst of all the fun, though, are two people who really want to find their “one and only,” who may have enjoyed the “companionship” of others in the past, and like Ace, have books filled with names and addresses of potential partners. Yet these two are really good friends, and since they have to be married for a year in order to satisfy the will, they begin to realize that their now-public marriage requires them to sleep together. We all know where that leads! What they are least prepared for is any kind of deeper emotional attachment, and at the heart of this story is the struggle these two have to maintain their friendship while dealing with those new feelings, stuff they really weren’t prepared to encounter.
I have loved every novel in this series and this newest one continues with the joyful and delight-filled antics of the people of this community. Some friends from previous stories continue to make an appearance now and then by doing so continue that sense that each of these people, all with their own stories, are nevertheless connected and continue to need one another’s friendship. I am so glad I was privileged to read this newest book in Ms Brown’s series, and can’t recommend it highly enough. You’ll read with a smile on your face, that’s for sure!

I give it a rating of 5 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.
This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Darn Good Cowboy Christmas by Carolyn Brown

Posted February 16, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Judith’s review of Darn Good Cowboy Christmas (Spikes & Spurs #3) by Carolyn Brown.

The author of the #1 bestselling Christmas romance in 2010 (Honky Tonk Christmas) creates a new installment in her sexy contemporary cowboy romance series that showcases her amazing Southern voice.

Born and raised in a traveling carnival, all Liz Hanson ever wanted for Christmas was a home that didn’t have wheels. After she was old enough to date she added one more item: a sexy cowboy.

She’s about given up on Santa ever bringing either one when her father dies and leaves her an ugly house and twenty acres in Texas. Then rancher Raylen O’Donnell walks onto her property…

It has been said that we are all children at Christmas–admittedly we all love receiving presents. Some have even conceived of adult Santa lists. Few have had requests as strange as Liz Hanson’s as she moved into a new phase of her life. All she wanted for Christmas was a house that wasn’t built on wheels and her very own cowboy. Her carnie family had a very hard time accepting her desire to separate herself from her life-long association with the carnival life. Her mom, her aunt, and all their family members thought she was crazy. With the exception, however, of her uncle who never accepted his “place” in the traditions of the carnival into which he was born. Now he has decided to deed his ranch over to Liz and it would appear that she has a chance to make this significant move away from the transient life. She still loves the carnival in many ways and as time goes on she misses parts of it–not being with her mom and others in her family her primary loss. Yet she knows that this is right for her and she just needs to prove this to those who love her.

Now for the cowboy for Christmas: she has had a crush on one of the O’Donnell boys since her early teens. Her shock comes when the now grown up Raylon appears at her door and the teen crush appears to be in danger of turning into something far more adult in nature.

Carolyn Brown fans will love this story. Crisp and clear character development, humorous, one-of-a-kind characters that form the background and context of the story, the on-going saga of the O’Donnells and their attempt to marry off their kids in order, and the delightful repartee that peppers and enlivens the dialogue throughout. It is such a fun read. Having read the first two books in this series and really liked them a lot, I was delighted to get this book for review. It was like meeting up with familiar characters that almost border on friends, yet their continuing story doesn’t overshadow the new story and its action. It is a story that includes some pretty intense erotic loving–an attraction that seems to have the main characters falling into bed with each other fairly frequently. But unlike other novels embodying a similar attraction, the love story does not overtake the other aspects of the novel. Liz’s family is unique and the objections of Raylon’s family to Liz and her background make this story come across with a different impact. It isn’t just about the sex. It really is about a relationship that Liz must fit into a life that is still in transition, fraught with challenges and struggles, especially those that are launched by well-meaning and loving family members.

This may be a novel that highlights the Christmas season as a significant part of the story context, but it is a love story that is timeless in the issues that impact the lives of these two main characters and the people who are an important part of their lives. It is the kind of story that will be a fun read, no matter what time of year. I highly recommend lovers of cowboy/Western romance to latch on to this one. It’s just a really good book.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Red’s Hot Cowboy by Carolyn Brown

Posted September 23, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 2 Comments

Judith’s review of Red’s Hot Cowboy (Spikes & Spurs #2) by Carolyn Brown

When Pearl Richland inherits her aunt’s 1950s motel she returns to her roots. Tired of the big city, she’s ready for small town life, especially when sexy cowboy Wil Marshall comes in to escape an ice storm. Pearl never thought she’d turn in her high heels and start dating a cowboy, but Wil’s got an awful lot to offer if a girl’s available for a whole lot of fun, sizzle, and unexpected trouble…

Ok, so I’m into cowboys right at the moment and that is just the way it is! I never thought I would be–there have been many years when I looked at an American historical or contemporary “Western” novel and just shuddered. No way, no how! Just give me another gorgeous Regency historical and I’ll be a happy camper, or so I said. Yet I find myself enjoying American historicals more and more and as well as gravitating toward those tall, broad-shouldered, dark, handsome, mysterious cowboy types. Go figure.

In the process I have discovered some really good books and some very good authors. I think Carolyn Brown is one of those. This particular novel is the second book in her “Spikes and Spurs” series. The main characters are completely new and references to the first book are not very obvious unless the reader has read that first novel: Love Drunk Cowboy. This is definitely a stand alone book. Yet it bears the marks of good writing, unique characters, sparkling repartee, humor, and an underlying emotional stream that also embraces a social ill or two.

Another reason I liked this book will be obvious to anyone who knows me personally–as a redhead I had a really hard time when people referred to me as “Red.” I would invariably respond: “That’s not my name!!” The only person who got away with that was my favorite uncle who I adored, who I saw very little because of geographical location, and who always treated me like I was his daughter (as he had no children of his own). Anyone else got a dirty look and perhaps a few well-chosen “not nice” words. So it was with this heroine. Pearl just didn’t like it, period! And she made her feelings known whenever the occasion arose. She finally caved and allowed Wil to call her that because of his solicitous care and kindness when she sustained a mild concussion and multiple bruises after a bad fall. And I think she became more and more accepting of his calling her by this nickname because her feelings for Wil were getting warmer as time went on.

This story is really about the need for a very bright, very driven woman to make her own way in the world even though her education, family expectations, and career path seemed to be pointing in a different direction. Throughout the narrative Pearl reasserted her desire, her need to be her own person, even though her refined, Georgia-raised aristocratic mother seemed unable to accept her for who she was. Pearl loved being the owner of an old motel in a little burg in Texas rather than an up and coming banking executive. She loved opening her doors to people of all kinds, of being a part of an “underground” effort to protect abused women and children, of using her mind and resources to live her own style. She loved driving a vintage Cadillac, of sharing her cat with Lucy who lived and worked at her motel, of sharing her life with her best friends, of using her inheritance to allow a best friend to launch her own dream. Pearl was her own person and she was determined to remain so.

Yet Pearl’s heart was no longer satisfied with the thrill of the chase, the flirting, the dizzy tingles of lust and first attraction. She knew she had to face her past, her collection of “demons” associated with love, her fears of being once again abandoned by someone to whom she had given her heart. Both she and Wil needed to trust–I think she more than Wil, really–and recognize that being with one man, especially a man to whom she was precious, was what she desired and for which she hungered more than anything.

I really love a good story, a good love story–to be exact–but a story that brings in lots of interesting side issues. This novel does just that. Pearl’s good friend Austin (whose story is featured in the first book) is still lurking. But Pearl’s best childhood friend, Jasmine, is a woman who also had a dream and the account of her “liberation” is a part of this novel is a way that does not take away from Pearl and Wil’s story, but really enhances the reader’s understanding of how Pearl’s mind works and her degree of loyalty to those who have stood by her through thick and thin. Austin’s two bachelor brothers-in-law are hanging around, wafting in and out of the narrative, actually being present to put just a bit of pressure on Wil to make up his mind about his relationship with Pearl, not a presence to be taken lightly, as it turns out. Both those guys would have loved to date the beautiful redhead. (Raylen’s and Dewar’s stories are coming up in future books, I have a feeling.) I think you’ll like Pearl’s grandmother and great-aunt Kate–two very open-minded and open-hearted women who bicker constantly about tradition vs modern thinking where women are concerned, and their responses to Wil are just a hoot!

If you like cowboys, I think you’ll like this series and this book. Just lots of fun, good relationship, fun family scenes, the push-pull of a growing relationship between two people who have been around for a while and who feel a growing need to be “settled.” It is about friendship and loyalty, generosity and healing, kindness and caring, and lots of good humor. It is the kind of book I found incredibly satisfying for an afternoon read and one I am delighted to have encountered. This novel will be turning up in stores very soon if not already on the shelves, and I encourage you to get it.

I give this novel a rating of 4.25 out of 4

The Series:
Love Drunk CowboyRed's Hot Cowboy

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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