Hot Cowboys and an Older Woman: DRAWN DEEP and REINING MEN

December’s bit a bit slower, review-wise, leaving me with more time to actually enjoy reading my review books, and I liked these two quite a bit.

I’ve been enjoying Cari Quinn’s Lost in Oblivion series (written with Taryn Elliott) and wanted to give something else of hers a try. When Drawn Deep came up on NetGalley, I was stoked. Older woman? Younger man? Who’s also a virgin? Sign me up!

Kim’s spent the years since her divorce flitting from one younger man to another, never staying long enough to develop any sort of real attachment. The instant the guy starts having feelings for her, she bails. Wanting to change her ways, she’s determined to resist Michael, the nude model from her drawing class. But Michael has other ideas. Having spent years in a relationship that left him mostly isolated, he’s not ready to commit to anyone again, either. What he wants is for Kim to show him everything he’s been missing. Neither count on their hearts getting involved.

I really, really liked this one. It worked for me on all sorts of levels. Despite the 14 year age gap, the pair are on the same level, maturity wise – and Michael might even be a little ahead of Kim in that respect.

Michael’s missed a lot when it comes to relationships and intimacy, but he’s making up for it quick-like with Kim. Aside from a few fumbles at the beginning, the man comes across as almost…perfect. And while perfect can make for a boring character, he’s not. He’s quiet and assured and knows exactly what he wants, and he’s willing to fight for it.

I think the reason perfect Michael works is because Kim is nowhere near perfect. She’s assured in someways, horribly insecure in others, and convinced she knows what’s best for Michael. Because he doesn’t try to shove his way in or placate her, she falls for him, little by little, until she freaks out so badly she’s going to have to do a lot of groveling to get him back. She does grovel (in a rather spectacular fashion, if I do say so myself) but this was one of the few points of the book I didn’t like – the ending felt rushed. Kim was finally on somewhat even ground, willing to admit she wanted Michael and what could happen between them, then…well, there was the groveling. It all happened within a chapter (maybe a little more) and I wanted more build up and a longer resolution.

If you’re looking for a good May-December romance, Drawn Deep is a fun, entertaining choice.

I loved Em Petrova’s Country Fever series, and her menage stories are some of my favorites. I was kind of disappointed to leave the little town of Reedy, Wyoming behind, but when the first book in the Boot Knockers series (Pushin’ Buttons) popped up, I got over my disappointment.

Reining Men is the third book in the series. Paul’s only been a Boot Knocker for about six months, having worked as a ranch hand for some time before that. He’s got the week off, and he’s not happy about it. Not after he sees Lissy among the women on the stage. His best friend Jack ends up as her Boot Knocker, and he steels himself for a week of lurid come ons from Jack and tormenting himself with images of Lissy and Jack together. Naked.

Jack’s wanted Paul for months, and he takes every opportunity to push his boundaries. Then he sees Lissy up on stage, and all bets are off. He’ll have Lissy and Paul in his bed by the end of the week. As the three grow closer, Paul’s forced to face some truths about himself that he’s been avoiding, and all three start to realize that sometimes it’s more than just sex.

Sigh. I want to like these books. I do. And to an extent, I do enjoy them. But they play on the premise of insta-love, something that bothers me to no end, which means I really ought to just wait until Petrova comes out with a different series. Though I have to say, it is pretty fun to see which Boot Knocker will fall next.

The main draw here is the relationship between Jack and Paul. Paul was raised in a conservative family, and those teachings are scored deep into him. He’s grown more comfortable with the idea of men being with men, but it’s more of a don’t involve me, I don’t want to know sort of thing. Jack isn’t having any of this. He wants Paul, and he wants more from Paul. He backs off when he goes too far, and he’s quick to apologize and give Paul space. And when Paul starts meeting him halfway, he’s patient. It was his patience I loved the most. He knew that if he treated him right and didn’t rush, he’d get everything he wanted from his friend. To get a better idea of how far Paul’s come in his thinking, you’d need to read the first two books, because his character arc really starts in book one.

Lissy’s different from the two women who came before her, series-wise. She’s confident and athletic, and I actually really liked the physical descriptions of her body. It sounds weird, but it’s true. A semi-pro beach volleyball player and competitive show jumper, she has muscle. She’s fit, and her body proves it. Too often athletic women are seen as unfeminine, so kudos to Petrova for giving us a heroine with some muscle – and the competitive drive to go with it.

Unfortunately, Lissy’s kind of superfluous. If you take her out of the equation, you know that Jack and Paul would end up together, thought it might take them a while longer to get there. Their connection has a depth you’d expect from knowing each other so well, and it shows. The connection with Lissy…not so much.

I’m not sure if I’ll make a return trip to the Boot Knockers ranch. We’ll have to see who’s next in line to fall.

Copies of Drawn Deep and Reining Men provided by the publisher in exchange for review.

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