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R.C. Murphy spends her nights writing urban fantasy novels and a slew of short stories for her blog, The Path of a Struggling Writer. By day she is a not so mild-mannered housewife, wrangling vampires, demons, and various other nasty creatures. R.C. has joined forces with fellow writers, artists, and actors to form the Zombie Survival Crew where she reviews movies, TV shows, as well as penning articles on important survival skills. Her articles on survival in the zombie apocalypse are featured in the ZSC anthology Undead is Not an Option. Readers can find visit her at her web site, her Facebook Fan Page, and Twitter.

Let’s Talk About Sex

Lately there’s been a rash of authors throwing up their hands and staring in wonder as their fans tear into them about their newest books. Not because the writing is shoddy or lacking in any substantial way. Oh no. It’d be understandable if authors were being called onto the carpet for releasing a half-thought-out book. Instead, they’re being shamed for not turning their novels into literary porn. (If you just imagined two novels humping, you’re my new best friend.)

Yes, sex in books is often something wonderful, thrilling, and gives the reader’s day a little extra oomph when they’re done reading. However, sex cannot and will never be the entire plot of a book. A sex scene is one moment in the lives of these people/creatures the author created. If a book was nothing but sex, then readers assume the character has no job, no responsibilities beyond a good shag. That’s not how life works, and even in the most fantastical, sex-driven books, it isn’t how a character would live their life.

I’m one of those weirdos who thinks a character (and heck, even the guy at the end of the bar who’s been sending me drinks all night) has to earn the right to have sex. Sex is never a guarantee. There’s nothing thrilling about opening a romance novel and knowing when, where, and how hard a couple are going to go at it. Romance novels are stories of how these two people build a relationship. How they learn to trust each other enough to be nude and vulnerable in front of a virtual stranger. There’s no magic wand you wave in real life that’ll tell you if the cute chick checking you out at the party is sane enough to sleep with, because at some point she may snap and you’re missing important parts of your body. You. Never. Know.

Also, it is hard to write sex, guys. Okay, rephrase that . . . it is hard to write good, inventive sex scenes that aren’t a rehash of everything else already committed to paper. Think of it like a dance, not everything is going to be Thriller. Sometimes you end up with a limping, off-beat tango and your partner has broken your big toe from stepping on it repeatedly. It is like trying to reinvent the wheel. Sex has been around, literally, forever. It is why we’re all here. Finding new, exciting ways to describe something we all will do at some point in our lives sucks. And not in a good way. Authors are banking on their talent to keep the reader from stopping mid-fictional-hump and saying, “That’s not how it works.” I’m not immune to this. Every time I think I have something cool to offer, my editor shakes her head and I realize she’s right. There are physical limitations to what a normal person can do. Remembering those in an effort to write the New Best Sex Thing Ever is a trial.

Not every sex scene works in the context of the story plot, either. An author may come up with the Hamlet of sex scenes, but if it stalls the flow of the plot, it’ll have to go. Maybe the scene will move to later in the book. Maybe it’ll be dumped in a “For Later Use” file and put into another story. Just depends on where the characters are mentally, physically, and if the flow of the story calls for a little time out. Unlike real life, sex for the sake of having sex doesn’t often fit into a story.

The next time you feel like grabbing a pitchfork and torch over an author’s lack of sex scenes in a book, stop and think what you’d do in their shoes. We try our best to titillate readers while telling a good story, but sometimes we can’t make Fetch happen. And we shouldn’t. When you force something on a story, it falls apart. I’d much rather read a sexless romance story than a forced sex scene. Focus on good writing, not cheap thrills. There’s an entire internet full of porn for that.

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Thank you R.C. for coming to PonyTails today! I am doing a giveaway of 1 ebook of Enslaved. This is open to everyone. The winner will be selected using Random.org and will be announced around September 24, 2013. Please fill out the form below.

About Enslaved:

The gods are flawed . . . and they make awful parents.

Deryck knows first-hand the cruelty of the gods. Three thousand years after his birth, he is still trapped, forced to service humans as an Incubus—unable to choose whom he sleeps with, and living a life completely devoid of love. There is no out for him. No hope. Or so he thought.

Shayla McIntire spent five years getting her life back on track after the accident claiming her husband’s life. She is content to a nice, boring, subdued life free of the abuse she suffered before. Her friends are worried. They want her to find the man of her dreams and move on.

Little do they know, the Powers That Be have decided the man of Shayla’s dreams for her. There’s just one hitch, he’s enslaved to the gods and it will take power she doesn’t know she has to free him. Deryck isn’t the only one hoping Shayla will free him, though.

Enslaved is available from Amazon and from Barnes and Noble.

This was our largest giveaway ever here at PonyTails! We had 179 entries!  Thank you to everyone who entered.

I used Random.org to choose the lucky person to receive the print editions of If I Were You and .   The winner is….

T.J. – I emailed BookTrib your information.  You should receive your books soon!

This Giveaway will run until June 29, 2013. It is only open to U.S. and Canadian Residents. The winner will receive a print copy of both If I Were You and Being Me. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form at the bottom of the page. Incomplete entries will not be considered for the giveaway. The winner will be announced by July 6, 2013.

Lisa Renee Jones started her publishing career in 2007. Since then, she has published over 30 books with 8 different publishers and has created a successful indie book career. She is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author who’s Inside Out Trilogy has been optioned by the cable channel STARZ. She currently lives with her husband and adorable cat in Colorado. Please visit her at her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

About If I Were You:

When Sara McMillan finds a stack of journals in a storage unit, she’s shocked and enthralled by the erotic life the writer led. Unable to stop reading, she vicariously lives out dark fantasies through Rebecca, the writer—until the terrifying final entry.

Certain something sinister has happened, Sara sets out to discover the facts, immersing herself in Rebecca’s life. Soon she’s working at the art gallery Rebecca worked at and meeting Rebecca’s friends. Finding herself drawn to two dangerously sexy men, the manager of the gallery and a famed artist, Sara realizes she’s going down the same path Rebecca took. But with the promise of her dark needs being met by a man with confident good looks and a desire for control, she’s not sure anything else matters. Just the burn for more.

If I Were You is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

If I Were You is also available from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook editions.

About Being Me:

Fascinated by the dark fantasies in the journals she’s discovered, and the two men who have now found a place in her life, Sara McMillan finds herself torn between her new life and her past. Now, more than ever, Sara identifies with the missing journal writer, Rebecca, and is certain that something sinister has happened.

In the arms of the sexy, tormented artist Chris Merit, Sara seeks answers about Rebecca and ends up discovering things about herself she never knew existed. Chris forces Sara to reconsider who she is and what she truly wants from life, but his dark desires threaten to tear them apart. Her boss, Mark Compton, offers her the shelter to understand just what those needs mean to her, and what they might have meant to Rebecca—but can she trust him to lead her to a final conclusion to Rebecca’s story?

Being Me is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Being Me is also available from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook editions.

Lisa has also written 4 novellas meant to be read between If I Were You and Being Me. Rebecca’s Lost Journals, Volume 1 – 4 are available in Kindle and Nookicon editions.

Once a week through June and July, Lisa will be releasing installments of a serialized mystery Behind Closed Doors: An Inside Out Novella on the Storage Treasures website.

 

 

From Back of the Book

Being a cowboy is all he knows…

Bronc-buster Mack Boyd can ride a wild stallion to a standstill, but he can’t say no when his family prevails on him to come home and help run the ranch. The last person he expects to find there is a high-class Easterner like Cat Crandall.

But no cowboy can rein her in…

When Cat Crandall gives up a lucrative advertising job to follow her artistic dreams, she’s thinking Paris, Tuscany – not the vast and lonely Big Sky country of Wyoming. Her success at Boyd Ranch’s artists’ retreat could be her ticket to far more exotic places… but the rough and rugged cowboy she meets there is giving Cat a different kind of inspiration.

My Review:

I have read all six of Joanne Kennedy’s books and with each one she continues to improve as a story teller. Like Lori Foster, Joanne’s books quickly become comfort reads, even when you are reading the story for the first time. With every one of Joanne’s books, after I finish the story, I will go back to re-read a specific section but end up reading from that spot to the end of the book. I always find myself going back to her books.

One of my favorite things about Joanne’s story telling is that she always has a message to share. It isn’t an in your face message, but it is always there. In Cowboy Crazy, the heroine was torn between being a professional and being a country girl, and it also touched on the importance for corporations to help take care of the small towns they purchase natural resources from. In Cowboy Fever, Joanne reminds us that even people with disabilities deserve a chance at independence.

In this story, the two main messages are family first and it is never too late to follow your dreams. Sometimes I wonder if Joanne is spying on my life, and her books are her way of reminding me of the important things.

After the death of her sister, Cat finds herself stuck in a job she settled for, in a city she only likes because of the art galleries. She finally decides to take a chance on doing something she loves, art and teaching art. When she signed on with an artist retreat company, she figured she would finally see the world, but instead they sent her to a ranch in Wyoming. But Cat learns that she doesn’t need exotic locations to be an inspired artist or to be happy.

Mack, on the other hand, comes home to the family ranch to help with the artists and discovers how badly his mother was swindled by estranged husband. Over the years, Mack spent his time on the road. He used it as an escape from what was happening at home. During the two weeks he is helping with the artist retreat, he rediscovers the importance of family and having a home. The time off the rodeo circuit helps him put his priorities straight.

Those two messages are expertly weaved in to the story of romance between Cat and Mack. Just like all her other books, Joanne has a wonderful cast of characters in this book. From the emo teenager to the retiree who loves anything western. During their retreat, they all become a miss-mashed little family.

I wanted to point out that the cover art at the top of this page is not the cover art that the book was printed with. Sometimes between when I receive my Advanced Copy and when the book is actually released, the publisher will change the cover. When I discovered they changed this cover, it saddened me. There is a section in the book that this cover fits with better than the one they used.

Cat looked him up and down and decided she didn’t care as long as he wore those chaps. They might make him look like a cartoon cowboy from the funny papers, but they hugged his slim hips and emphasized his muscular thighs. The leather tie at the front reminded her of a bow on a very nice, very masculine birthday present, and it put his assets front and center….

I think of that section every time I see the cover on my Advance Copy. It always makes me smile. Anyone who has a thing for cowboys has always wanted to undo that bow… 😉

I give Cowboy Tough a 5 Horseshoe rating.

Cowboy Tough is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Cowboy Tough is also available from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook editions.

Publication Details:

Author Joanne Kennedy
Title Cowboy Tough
Format Print
Length 371 Pages
Publication Date February 2013
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 978-1-4022-6552-5

From Author’s Website

As the person responsible for taking down a brutal human trafficker, Alice Appleton fears retaliation at every turn. No one knows about her past, which is exactly how she prefers it…until the sexy cop next door comes knocking.

Detective Reese Bareden thinks he knows what makes women tick, but his ever-elusive neighbor keeps him guessing like no other. Is his goal to unmask Alice’s secrets? Or protect her from a dangerous new threat? One thing is certain: their chemistry is a time bomb waiting to explode. And with no one to trust but each other, Reese and Alice are soon drawn into a deadly maze of corruption, intrigue and desire-and into the line of fire….

My Review:

Lori Foster has a definite writing style. One that makes her stories a comfort type read but exciting and new at the same time.

All of the characters had a fun and interesting chemistry. Ms. Foster did a wonderful job allowing Alice to be both cautious due to her past, but also wanting to be a stronger more independent woman. Even though he was an alpha male and a police detective, Reese’s need to protect Alice was never over baring.

I liked how Ms. Foster brought a character from the Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series and made her the heroine of this series. It allowed readers who felt sorry for Alice in Trace of Fever to see Alice change in to the strong woman that Reese falls in love with. It doesn’t hurt that we get to see Trace in this book as well.

The story was fun and exciting with some twists and turns. Even though I figured out the mystery, I still enjoyed the book.

I’m looking forward to Rowdy’s book, Getting Rowdy, in September.

I give Bare It All a 4 Horseshoe rating.

Bare It All is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Bare It All is available from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook

Part of the BookTrib Blog Tour

Publication Details:

Author Lori Foster
Title Bare It All
Format Print
Length 473 Pages
Publication Date May 2013
Publisher HQN
ISBN 978-03737-7761-7

Lori Foster published her first book in January 1996. Since then she has become a Waldenbooks, Borders, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling author. She has also received many awards for her writing, including the Romantic Times “Career Achievement Award” for two genres. Lori is a strong believer in giving back to the community. Along with another author, Lori hosts an annual Reader and Author event. The proceeds benefit many causes including a battered women’s shelter and an animal adoption organization. Readers can find visit her at her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

PonyTails (PT): Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

Lori Foster (LF): For Bare It All, book two in the Love Undercover series, Reese is the hero. I was writing about Logan and Pepper from book one and then suddenly Logan called his buddy Reese, who I found out was also a detective. He said he had some secrets – and I had to keep writing to find out what they were.

Weird, right? I’m always as surprised as the reader! But that’s what keeps it fun, I guess.

Anyhoo… Reese was a secondary character and then, because of how big he was on the page, I knew he’d be book two. Rowdy and Dash also showed up in book one, and I knew right away they’d demand their own books as well.

Much of Bare It All was worked out in the first book. Reese met Alice, and we all knew right away they’d be perfect for each other. How that would happen, what would propel them into a romance, wasn’t crystal clear, so I had to wait for Alice to tell me some things, and for her to work out some stuff with Reese…

Yes, they talk to me a lot – often when I’m trying to sleep!

PT: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

LF: I write well with chaos. If the house gets too quiet my mind wanders away from my book. I usually have the music playing pretty loud (and yeah, I sing along and bounce in my chair) with a few candles burning and my many pets bugging me every few minutes. My desk at home faces the pond so I can see the fish jump and the occasional hawk snag a meal.

My desk at the lakehouse faces the lake so I can see the fishermen go by, the skiers and boaters… I like water and find it very inspirational.

PT: What has been your biggest adventure to date?

LF: In writing? Or in life? If you mean in writing, then that would definitely be when I wrote Joe Winston ( Say No to Joe? ) and both Kensington and Berkley wanted the book. To call it an adventure would be an understatement. I doubt anything writing-wise can ever equal the excitement of being wanted by two publishers who kept upping the ante. Fun, fun, fun!

In life, well you know, having kids are adventures that never ends. Lol.

We love the outdoors so we’ve visited lots of local caves and rock bridges, etc… But topping it all was the underground river during a lot of rain. The river was high enough that we had to duck our heads in places to fit through the caves. And it was so dark! Not for claustrophobic people, that’s for sure. For anyone who’s a real adrenaline junkie, though, I’m sure it would seem pretty tame.

PT: As a romance writer, what is your idea of the “ideal romantic evening”?

LF: My husband and I are not, and never have been, party people – unless it’s an afternoon family party. When we go to the movies, it’s usually a matinee. So with that in mind, I like easy, slow evenings where he cooks me something delicious for dinner (he’s turned into an amazing cook!) and then either the theater (not too late) or a good movie on the television, dressed in our comfortable clothes. Just us, quiet time, being together.

PT: What are you reading right now?

LF: “The Best Man” by Kristin Higgins. It’s delicious. But I’m reading it slowly because I don’t allow myself to read it except for when I’m on the treadmill. See, I’m trying to con myself into getting a little more exercise. So far so good. I spend 20 to 30 minutes a day (minus weekends) on the stupid torturous device. Only the awesomeness of the book is making it possible. This is my first Kristin Higgins book – recommended to me by my Facebook followers – and wow, does she ever weave a wonderful tale! I’m hooked.

PT: When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?

LF: There was no one defining moment. It sort of crept up on me, at first telling me I was a daydreamer, and later telling me I was too introspective, and maybe fanciful. I started by creating stories in my head. Yeah, you can imagine what most thought of that. 😉 And then I wrote a few longhand, just for my own entertainment with no real thought of ever trying to sell.

I think it was when I attended a small local writer’s conference. At that time I’d written about 4 books. They were terrible – definitely not something I’d want in print. But without realizing it I was teaching myself to write. Anyway, at this conference I talked to some unpublished writers – several who had been working on a single book for years. I had that “wow” moment, and thought maybe I had what it took.

PT: Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?

LF: Stella Cameron has been an angel on earth, giving me wonderful advice whenever I needed it. She will always be my hero.

At a local conference, before I’d ever sold, I met Stella. We hit it off and she was so kind that she offered to look at my work. I drove home (squealing all the way) and snatched up a manuscript, then drove back to the conference hotel. Stella sat on the bed in her room and read through several pages with me anxiously watching, my stomach in knots. And she said something life-altering. I don’t remember the exact words, but she told me I would definitely sell, that my voice was special, and that she was impressed.

That was really welcome praise, considering I’d been working on selling a book for two years. It had been revised, then revised again… and each time I sent it off I had to wait another 6 to 9 months.

Later that same day she sort of trapped a Harlequin editor in the elevator and asked if she was going to buy my book. (At that point the editor had had the revised manuscript for over 8 months.) When the editor waffled, unsure, Stella said she would just give my manuscript to her own editor with her recommendation – and the Harlequin editor said, “No, I’m buying her.”

I still smile when thinking of that. After waiting all that time, Stella got an editor to commit to me in an elevator at a conference hotel.

How could I not revere that woman?

Oh, and besides all that, Stella is an AMAZING author! I still love her work.

PT: Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published authors?

LF: Write what you love. Don’t share your work with anyone until it’s DONE. Don’t give up.

Thank you to Lori for visiting PonyTails today. Please watch for our review of Bare It All to go live on June 1, 2013.

Part of the BookTrib Blog Tour

About Bare It All:

As the person responsible for taking down a brutal human trafficker, Alice Appleton fears retaliation at every turn. No one knows about her past, which is exactly how she prefers it…until the sexy cop next door comes knocking.

Detective Reese Bareden thinks he knows what makes women tick, but his ever-elusive neighbor keeps him guessing like no other. Is his goal to unmask Alice’s secrets? Or protect her from a dangerous new threat? One thing is certain: their chemistry is a time bomb waiting to explode. And with no one to trust but each other, Reese and Alice are soon drawn into a deadly maze of corruption, intrigue and desire-and into the line of fire….

Bare It All is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

From Publisher’s Website

‘Tis the season for…

◇ A matchmaking grandma on a long-distance mission

◇ Mistletoe Temptation in every doorway

◇ A sexy cowboy with a killer smile

When Gran Presely agrees to sell Creed Riley the Rockin’ C Ranch for a song at Christmastime, he can hardly believe his good fortune. There’s just one little catch — her tantalizing granddaughter Sage is part of the deal…

My Review:

This was a fun holiday book. A plotting grandmother who wants to sell her ranch and see her granddaughter married to the man she is selling the ranch to. This had one of my favorite winter story tropes; boy and girl are isolated from everyone due to being snowed in. Their first night, Creed was a charming and accommodating cowboy, while Sage was being a shrew. Sage really doesn’t want her grandmother to sell the ranch and plans to do anything to run this cowboy off.

Sage is an artist and needs to create art in order to not go crazy while being snowed in. Ms. Brown did a wonderful job of describing Sage’s creative process and describing the paintings. Just from those descriptions, I would love to own some of Sage’s work. I enjoyed the regular appearance of mistletoe in the story. Each time we see the plant, it adds inspiration to Sage’s work and to her relationship with Creed.

Gran Presely really knows how to make a match that will last a lifetime.

I give Mistletoe Cowboy a 4 Horseshoe rating.

Mistletoe Cowboy is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Mistletoe Cowboy is also available from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook editions.

Publication Details:

Author Carolyn Brown
Title Mistletoe Cowboy
Format Print
Length 333 Pages
Publication Date October 2012
Publisher Sourcebooks Casblanca
ISBN 9781402270154

From Publisher’s Website

She’s Got Her Eyes on the Prize…

Gemma O’Donnell wasn’t the first woman to win the ProRodeo buckle for bronc riding, but she was darn well going to be the second. What she didn’t count on was her main competition sweeping her off her feet.

He’ll Do Whatever It Takes To Win…

Trace Coleman isn’t really after a title—he needs the cash prize to buy his dream ranch. But one sexy, determined cowgirl keeps getting in his way. In his effort to take her out of the running, he risks losing both the title—and his heart.

My Review:

I have read many books by Carolyn Brown, but this one is my favorite. I have found that Ms. Brown’s writing improves with each book she writes. With this one, the writing is exciting, compelling, and makes the reader wish for more.

I have read this book three or four times. Only books that have a great story line, and characters, cause me to reread it many times. I love the characters in this story. Gemma has always been my favorite of the O’Donnell clan. I’ve loved her spunky, kick ass attitude and view on life. If something scares her, she tries harder. I was not surprised when she decided to chase the bronc riding dream. If any woman can do it, it would be Gemma. I wish she was a real person, because I would love to be her friend.

Trace is an amazing cowboy. He doesn’t want the national title for the ego boost. He wants the title just for the money so he can buy his own ranch. While competing, a woman he spent a long weekend with shows up with a baby saying it was his. Instead of signing paper work that would allow the woman to put the baby up for adoption, he took on the task of raising the child himself. But soon discovers that he needs Gemma’s help.

Gemma and Trace are amazing together. They are able to compete against each other but not hold the outcome of each contest against each other. Very few couples can do that. I’m hoping we will see some more of Gemma and Trace in future Spikes and Spurs books.

I give Just A Cowboy And His Baby a 5 Horseshoe rating.

Just A Cowboy And His Baby is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Publication Details:

Author Carolyn Brown
Title Just A Cowboy And His Baby
Format Print
Length 324 Pages
Publication Date December 2012
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 9781402270185

From Publisher’s Website

In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary . . .

Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family’s legacy.

Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.

My Review:

Ms. Cooper has landed herself in on an elite list of authors who have made me cry with their stories. The other members of this list are Diana Gabaldon (multiple times with her Outlander series, Sherrilyn Kenyon (Acheron), and Karen Marie Moning (Dark Highlander ). Like I said, an elite list.

This was my first Steampunk from Ms. Cooper, and I enjoyed immensely. I read most of it in one night. I didn’t realize that this was the second book in the St. Croix Chronicles. Never once did I feel that I needed to go read the first book (Tarnished) to enjoy this one. Ms. Cooper did a wonderful job of giving information to those of us who skipped the first book.

The imagery and setting that you have in Ms. Cooper’s Victorian London. You feel like you are with Cherry in the drift, feeling suffocated by the smog and smells of the lower levels of society. You understand and empathize with the plight of those who are stuck below, not just in a societal class system sense but also in reality. When the smog started to overtake the posh neighborhoods of London, the Queen had parts of London lifted above the smog on stilts. Which left people behind and below in a place called the drift, never able to escape the smog. The smog hid not just the middle class and the poor, but also crime. Lots of crime, especially murder. In the drift, just about anything happens. There is murder, theft, brothels, “escorts” called sweets, opium dens and other drug offerings, and many gangs. It is a rich world that was created by a brilliant mind.

The character of Cherry St. Croix is a very complex character. She isn’t title but is an upper class member of society, even with the taint of her father’s madness following her. Cherry is intelligent and fascinated by science and debating the pros and cons with her best friend. But she has a dark side. To fight off the memories of the abuse she suffered in the drift at the hands of her own father, she relies on laudanum to sleep and sometimes to get through the day. But there is a small problem with this habit. The small stipend she receives from her guardian (who holds the key to her inheritance until she is 21) isn’t enough to by the laudanum. So to get the money for her drugs, she works in the drift as a collector, a type of bounty hunter. But because of another debt to a gang, not always does she get paid. At night she sneaks out of her house and spends hours in the drift. Trouble does find her, but for the most part collectors are left alone, much like clergy in war zones.

I’m not going to spill any more on this story. You will just have to get the book and read it. Come back and let me know if you cried also while reading this book.

I give Gilded a 5 Horseshoe rating.

Gilded is available from Amazon Print in Kindle editions.

Publication Details:

Author Karina Cooper
Title Gilded
Format Ebook
Length 384 Pages
Publication Date December 2012
Publisher Avon Books
ISBN 978-0-0621-2766-2

From Back Cover

IN THE WRONG PLACE

Roberta didn’t mean to hurt anyone. But the night that masked bandits raided her ranch, it was hard to tell friend from foe. She didn’t know Nate Dolan was only trying to help when she shot him in the leg. And when he offers to help her catch the culprits, she only feels guiltier. The absolute least she can do is nurse the rugged cowboy back to health…

WITH ALL THE RIGHT MOVES

Nate has been on the vengeance trail so long, he nearly forgot what a real home looked like. And Roberta is a mighty fine incentive to stay put for a while – even if she has a stubborn streak as wide as the great state of Texas. She might be convinced she’s healing the wound in his leg, but neither of them knows she’s also soothing the hurt in his heart.

My Review:

This was a fun, sweet, historical western romance. It has been a long time since I last read a Leigh Greenwood book. He still has the romantic touch that many readers expect.

This story is part of Mr. Greenwood’s Night Riders series. The Night Riders were a group of Confederate raiders, the original special ops. This story takes place in 1873, approximately 8 years after the Civil War, in South Texas where the Night Riders settled.

Mr. Greenwood has created two stubborn main characters whose banter was fun to read. The setting was amazingly authentic. You could almost believe you were able to visit that small town in the middle of nowhere Texas. He also created characters you would find in modern small towns. The realism he brings to the story shows how much research he put in to this story.

The suspense of who killed Roberta’s father lead to an interesting and fast paced story. Then you throw in the villain that Nate has been tracking since the end of the war, the one that Nate and the other Night Rider’s need revenge against. You have a story that parts of it will leave you sitting at the edge of your seat.

I did come across something that did bother me. At one point, while caring for Nate, Roberta makes him rice pudding. I was very surprised by the availability of rice in Texas in the late 1800s. After not being able to find anything about when rice was available in Texas, I asked Twitter. Someone pointed out that the Carolinas have had rice since almost the 1600s, possibly brought to the “New World” by Spanish Conquistadors. We hypothesized that after the Civil War, it was possible that those who fled the Carolinas for land out west might have taken rice seed stock with them. When I’m reading a book and something doesn’t seem right, it jerks me out of the story and then I start worrying about that one piece of information. When I get jerked out of the story, it diminishes the enjoyment of the book for me.

I give Heart of a Texan a 4 Horseshoe rating.

Heart of a Texan is available from Amazon Print and in Kindle editions.

Publication Details:

Author Leigh Greenwood
Title Heart of a Texan
Format Print
Length 353 Pages
Publication Date November 2012
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 978-1-4022-6399-6