Review: Turn and Burn by Lorelei James

Format: e-ARC
Publisher: NAL 
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Source of my copy: publisher via Netgalley
Series: Blacktop Cowboys #5
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Tanna Barker is a world champion barrel racer. But her personal life has been less of a success, and she’s feeling adrift. After her mother’s unexpected death, her father has remarried, and sold the Texas ranch she called home. Now a rodeo injury has left the restless spitfire holed up in Muddy Gap, unsure what her next move should be.
Until she meets her match in a wild, wild cowboy
Veterinarian August Fletcher has always put his job first. He’s never found a woman who could handle his on-the-road lifestyle. But when sassy, sexy Tanna blows into town, he finally finds the woman of his fantasies. And there’s something between them, but she claims she’s been burned by love ’em and leave ’em road dogs before. How can Fletch prove that he’s in it for the long haul, and that their sizzling relationship is better than winning any rodeo medal? It’ll take some sweet persuasion to convince Tanna that Muddy Gap is where she belongs.

I'm a huge fan of Lorelei James' Blacktop Cowboy series, which features characters from the same hometown of Muddy Gap, Wyoming. I was really excited to get my hands on Turn and Burn, the fifth** book in the series.

Turn and Burn is set two years after the events in One Night Rodeo (book four). Our heroine was Tanna Barker, a wild Texas cowgirl and a world champion barrel racer rodeo queen, who after being hit with one awful tragedy after another both personally and professionally, doesn't quite know what to do next in her life. For now, she's going to spend the summer in Muddy Gap working at the Split Rock resort--she's hoping to work on getting over her horse phobia after a rodeo accident and it also allows her to be close to some of her old friends who had since left the rodeo for hearth and home. On her way there, she met and had a one-night with August Fletcher. They didn't exchange names and she snuck out of his bed the next morning. She didn't think she'd ever see him again... but, of course she does!

As a large animal vet in Wyoming, August Fletcher, or Fletch, always puts his job first and he was always on the move. He prefers short-term affairs with women because he found none who can handle the demands of his profession. But after his one-night stand with Tanna, he couldn't get her out of his mind. When they run into each other again, Fletch saw it as a second chance with Tanna, but she was not one for anything long-term. Fletch would have been okay with that himself except he felt that there was something special between them. So, he proposed that they keep seeing each other until she leaves town. Fletch, who soon started to really fall for Tanna and wanted something a little more permanent with her, hoped that he can convince her to stay.

Since Tanna's terrible rodeo injury, she had developed a debilitating fear of horses. She couldn't go near a horse, much less ride one, without having a panic attack. This may be a career ender for the three-time world champion barrel racer unless she pulls through it. Fletch, despite knowing that if she can get over her fear and race professionally again he'll lose her, worked with and pushed Tanna harder than any one. Both were stubborn and anti-anything long-term so it was great reading how their relationship developed. I really like their banter and their playfulness but there were also a lot of heartfelt moments. Turn and Burn has all the feels!

As with the other characters Lorelei James created in Blacktop Cowboy series as well as in her other series (e.g., Rough Riders), I grew to love Tanna and Fletch and become invested in their finding their happily ever after. Tanna was independent, blunt, sassy and wild but she had her vulnerabilities, and Fletch was smart, strong and a formidable vet, but he's a workaholic who was very close to burning out. Both were perfectly imperfect, very likable, very interesting characters.  

And Turn and Burn packs a steamy punch! Tanna and Fletch definitely burn up the sheets so you might want to grab a cold drink when you read this book. However, it wasn't a sex-fest in that while this is a romantica (steamier than the average romance novel), there's a solid plot to go along with the  smexy moments. Also, there were all these emotions brewing in Tanna and Fletch behind the hot smex so it made the moments special rather than gratuitous smex for the sake of having a smex scene (I'm looking at you Suzanne Wright). 

For those readers who are following this series, all of the lead characters in the previous books all made an appearance, including Celia and Kyle (from One Night Rodeo, who are my absolute favorites in the series). It's been about six years since the first book of the series started so there's a lot of pregnancies and babies. Muddy Gap favorites like the Mud Lilies, a group of hilariously wild senior ladies who can drink with the best of 'em, and as well as other single Muddy Gap hotties who are just begging for their own HEA also make an appearance. 

Turn and Burn is not to be missed! While it is not my favorite in the series it is well-written and an excellent read. It has hot cowboys, wild women, Western humor, sweet moments, steamy moments, heart-tugging moments... basically everything you expect from a Lorelei James novel. If you are a fan of hot cowboys or just a well-written romance, I really urge you to pick up this series. [[A little disclaimer: If you're like me and ménage is not your cup of tea, then I suggest you start with book 2, Saddled and Spurred, which was what I did. The rest of the books after book 1 do not have any ménage.]]

**Turn and Burn can be read as a standalone--of course, like with most series books, you'll appreciate the secondary characters more if you read the previous books but you DO NOT need to read them in order to enjoy this one.

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