Rode Hard, Put Up Wet
by Lorelei James, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-674-4


Judging from how a secondary character in Rode Hard, Put Up Wet has the same last name as the hero in one of Lorelei James' previous books Long Hard Ride, I'd hazard a guess that the two books are related. The main characters' relationship seem to have begun even before this book begins, so it is very likely that those two started their thing in the previous book. I'm just guessing, though, since I haven't read Long Hard Ride.

Our heroine Gemma Jansen is a widow trying to keep her late husband's rodeo stock operation going but it isn't easy since the men running the rodeo circuit are chauvinist types that prefer to deal with a man when it comes to getting horses for their rodeo shows. Therefore, Gem needs a man to help her run the business. She thinks that she can trust Cash Big Crow to be that person. However, Cash and Gem had some kind of thing in the previous year until Gem broke things off and now Cash wants Gem to put out the goods. If she wants him to help her run the show, she will have to let him into her bed.

I assume that these two already have some kind of history and therefore some kind of underlying attraction going on, which I suppose makes this demand on Cash's part somewhat acceptable. Then again, with a title like Rode Hard, Put Up Wet, this isn't a story set in Genteel Country but more like Redneck Valley, so such "deals" may not be that unusual.

At any rate, this is a pretty long story with a subplot as well, involving Cash's daughter and one Carter McKay. Gem is worried about she being much older than Cash will affect their relationship but Cash assures her that he finds her as attractive as he finds that pop star Madonna to be. That part has me worried, by the way, because I'm not sure how often one can find a straight macho cowboy in Honky-Tonk Valley who actually likes Madonna. The internal conflicts aren't too heavy, so the story is as long as it is due to a number of sex scenes. These sex scenes include a threesome thing which is Carter's "present" to Gem.

While I should applaud the author for going the whole nine yards and then some when it comes to making sure that her characters are more often than not naked and, er, "rode hard", I find it hard to remain interested in the story because this one feels exactly like a sequel. The characters make casual and ill-explained references to events that take place before this story and their soap opera seem to be an ongoing thing that started in some previous book. Characterization is very superficial in this story, given that it rarely goes beyond how flexible the characters are with their body, so with me having no clear idea what is going on here, I find this one too easy to put down. No, the sex scenes don't really intrigue me either because it's like following cardboard cut-outs stimulating erotic acts.

Perhaps this one is best read by people who have been following this series, whatever it is called, or readers who really don't mind the story as long as there are enough sex scenes to tickle their fancy.

Rating: 53


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