One Night Rodeo

Lorelei James
August 2012, Contemporary Romance
NAL, $15.00, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 045123684X
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Hot

There’s definitely a difference between erotica written in the last century and erotica written today. Today’s includes plot lines and character development whereas old erotica centered on titillating scene after scene. Lorelei James represents the best in today’s erotica, and she’s just gotten stronger with every book she writes.

One Night Rodeo brings together two people readers have seen in previous books: Rodeo bull rider champ Kyle Gilchrist and barrel racer Celia Lawson. Both are strong characters who have been doing the bicker dance around each other for years.

The attraction is so strong that one drunk night in Las Vegas, they tie the knot. At this point, all my misgivings reared their heads — drunk, attraction, spur-of-the-moment marriage, great sex. Nothing said happily ever after. Not one bit.

On top of that, Kyle’s just learned about the father he never knew existed. Recently injured Celia for her part is trying to break free of her over-protective brothers’ wings. Neither is in top form to give such a rocky start his or her full attention.

If this were an old-style erotica, one sexual encounter after another would unfold and the marriage would be all but forgotten. James, however, gives not only her signature hot, hot encounters, but also a story worthy of a non-erotica contemporary.

Because Celia sees Kyle’s vulnerable side when he admits that he’s leery about meeting his absentee father, she agrees to go with him to Wyoming as backup. They are stunned to learn the man has died and left his ranch, bank accounts, everything to Kyle. While he’s overjoyed, Kyle still thinks the bequest was a little too late. He would rather have had a father when he was a kid, a father who taught him about ranch life, something Kyle doesn’t know.

However, Celia, having grown up and worked on a ranch, does know the daily and seasonal schedules to make a spread a successful concern. Since Kyle’s only wanted to own one but has no idea what the actual work entails, she agrees to teach him the ropes. They both say they will get the spur-of-the-moment marriage annulled at some point, but both secretly enjoy their union.

As they work together, readers get to see both Celia’s and Kyle’s strong points as well as vulnerabilities, and also see why their marriage has become more than a one night stand. Both are committed to make the marriage work on some level, for the hot sex, of course, but mostly because they each discover how the other makes them whole.

Kyle, the quintessential playboy rodeo star, is humbled to take direction from Celia, and through his mistakes, learns that she does know best and is grateful she’s so patient with him.

Celia is humbled by Kyle’s tenacity and willingness to plunge into what he doesn’t know and learn every aspect of ranching, not to mention his careful consideration and loyalty in the face of her brothers’ offhand belittling. Both are strong-willed people whom every reader would want as friends.

My only quibble with the book came when Kyle learns their marriage might not be legal and he doesn’t tell Celia about the glitch, causing unnecessary complications. Kyle and Celia have enough hurdles to overcome without piling that one on them too. It smacked of overkill.

James used to be an author whose writing I anticipated, but I lost contact with her books in the past few years. Fortunately, this book has put her back on my radar, and I can’t wait to read her next Blacktop Cowboy novel.

-- Pat Henshaw

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