Buckling Down
by Moira Keith, contemporary (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-519-1


27-year old Levi McKenna is determined to make a triumphant comeback in the National Finals Rodeo this year, but fate has plans on Buckling Down that poor fellow with the owner of the Vegas bar called Cowboy Up, Sydney Hart. They actually go way back - he and her brother are good friends, like pretty much every folk in this area who ends up marrying someone close to them, heh. But he has his eyes on a rekindled rodeo career while all she is looking for is a good man who will not break her heart or treat her as if she's second best in his life.

Actually, there isn't much heavy conflict in this story despite the characters looking for apparently very different things in their lives. Buckling Down is a pretty slow-paced but nonetheless readable story that begins with the reunion of our hero and our heroine and it slowly makes its way to the happily ever after from there. The characters are pretty familiar and their romance isn't the most interesting I've heard. Still, they are okay.

I find the descriptive passages describing the setting more interesting than the characters, actually. Reading Buckling Down, I get this impression that not only does the author seem to know the place and the rodeo very well, she is also doing a good job in drawing me into that world.

What really doesn't work here is the way the secondary characters exist merely to point out the obvious to the reader when they are not egging the main characters on. Sydney's brother strikes me as an especially artificial character. His occasional behavior and speech pattern feel more like that of a nosy best girlfriend of the heroine.

All in all, this is a decent, if not particularly exciting or memorable, read.

Rating: 70


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