A guest review by Sirius.
Summary: Exciting and fun story.
Aging bull rider Cody Grainger needs bullfighter Johnny Arrow for more than just protection in the ring. Their bond of trust goes beyond the professional and into love, but while their relationship holds up to the need for discretion imposed by their sport and repeatedly having to watch each other put themselves in the way of dangerous animals, other barriers still tear them apart.
For one thing, Cody is ten years older than Johnny. But instead of contemplating retirement, he focuses on winning the championship, desperate to stay on top. Johnny is only beginning to find the professional recognition he craves. When frustration leads Johnny to walk away, Cody’s season slumps. While they’re apart, they both slowly realize they are meant to be together. But machismo abounds in the sport of bull riding, and their pride might be an obstacle too big for love to overcome.
Wow, that was a thrilling ride. Keep in mind that my knowledge of bullriding consists of seeing it on TV once or twice in my life and thinking something along the lines – oh wow, these guys are crazy. So obviously I cannot know how well the writer did her research. All I can say is that everything pointed to her researching the setting really well. She gave us a brief vocabulary of the basic terms of what she called “Bullriding 101” at the beginning of the book; everything that she used in the story to describe the sport seemed very detailed and very knowledgeable, but if she did make some mistakes then I am not the person to point them out. The setting did not get in the way of the romance, it meshed perfectly with romance and it described why these men love this sport so much. In fact when I read descriptions like this one, I was wondering whether the writer ever rode a bull herself:
“But Cody was in the zone. He stayed right with the bull and even started spurring with his outside leg a little to show he was in control. He could feel a grin of pure enjoyment on his face. This was flying! The amazing rush of adrenaline and excitement and physical challenge all rolled into the most astounding, exhilarating, satisfying ride of his life. He never wanted it to end”
We see the rides described in details; we see some rather detailed descriptions of what bullfighters do, how much courage and strength they show when they often save bullriders from the potential injuries. I even started to like several bulls and it is not like their antics take a lot of page space, but I thought those animals came alive on the page. So what I am trying to say is if it is done as well as I thought it was done here, those of you who love this sport – not just the romance – will enjoy the book. It was definitely written very convincingly, that much I can tell you.
As you can see from the blurb this romance is about the journey of an established couple. Cody and Johnny have been together for two years and while it is clear that they were much more to each other than just sex buddies, it was also painfully clear that they have a long road to travel before they become a couple who can withstand everything life throws at them and be together for the years to come. I thought the author did such a wonderful job to show that there was nothing over the top that drew the men apart; as Johnny said it was not the big things, but many little things (paraphrase). Mostly we see that the guys temporarily go their separate ways (at that moment it seems very permanent) to do some growing up. There was nothing like a major blow up, misunderstanding, or anything like that. It is just one man was too assertive, too arrogant, a bit too selfish and the other guy was simply having trouble speaking up for himself and at some point he had enough.
Please note for those of you who care, while the guys are broken up, they have sex with other people, more than once. They were very clearly broken up though, so I do not even see how it could be interpreted as cheating, but if you care keep this in mind. I thought that this was also a part of the growing up process, especially for the less experienced man because eventually it just made him realize that he wants his guy back and that he wants him back by choice. I really liked how it was done.
I loved that when they reunited, they still may not have had perfect communication, but they did realize that they needed to listen to each other better and to work at their relationship, and to me it felt believable.
I really loved supporting characters in this book – Cody’s very diverse family (his mom rocked, Travis and RJ were great, but I think I also adored Cajun’s Spice for all the tiny role she had :-)). I thought Johnny’s teammates also were very interesting and with a potential for their own stories.