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Monday, November 9, 2009

Chasin' Mason by Stacey Joy Netzel

Chasin' Mason by Stacey Joy Netzel
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Western
Length: Full (191 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

When his father announced his engagement to a gold-digger with a lying, scheming fourteen-year old daughter, seventeen-year old Tripp Warner left Warner Ridge Ranch and never looked back. Until the day he got the phone call that his father had died unexpectedly.

Reggie Reed lives with her guilt every day but can't quite work up the courage to track down the son of the man who raised her as his own. When Tripp shows up at his father’s funeral eleven years later--and a hell of a man to be reckoned with--he has no interest in her too-late apology. Worse, they’ve inherited half shares of the family ranch—but only if they work together to catch Mason’s Gold, the stallion a young Reggie let escape and made sure Tripp took the blame for.

Tripp proposes a secret competition to the beautiful witch who stole his life: whoever catches the stallion first gets the ranch all to themselves. It sounds simple, but once they’re out on the range, tempers and passions flare in the Texas heat and nothing goes as either of them expects.

I knew I’d like this one before I ever read it. In my cold-hearted, incredibly logical way, I judged it by the cover. (Enigmatic cowboy silhouette, lively pinto horse… plainly, a winner.) And, I am pleased to share that Stacey Joy Netzel did not disappoint!

Tripp Warner returns to Warner Ridge Ranch – now half his – but his ownership, his own fair claim, is shared with the detestable, the conniving Reggie Reed. For her part, Reggie can understand his feelings… and in fact maybe regrets some of her own past decisions and actions. No one says he doesn’t have a complaint. Tripp doesn’t make anything any easier on the ‘princess,’ either. Sheer hatred kicks this up to serious drama.

Reggie’s memory and love for her step father sets the stage for this fast paced, unpredictable but always-evocative tale. Netzel will play a tune on your heartstrings throughout. Even secondary characters draw powerfully on your sympathy. Nothing could be more touching than all the shades of meaning in the dialogue between Tripp and Nana… and that’s just the start.

A resolution to the inheritance of the shared ranch seems beyond Tripp and Reggie, until they are presented with the challenge of recovering the amazing stallion, Mason’s Gold. Tripp and Reggie hit the open range and continue into a tangle of emotions, from guilt and rage to attraction. Yet, if they don’t let go of the past – they may never live beyond it. You’ll wonder too, if the past events happened exactly as they remember, or where blame really should be placed. Lighter moments don’t exactly abound, but a sprinkling of laughter seasons the mix. And the zippy dialogue is entirely engrossing.

Horse lovers will enjoy wonderfully horsey backdrop, and the subtle consideration for the horses. Horses are individuals, from sweet gelding Prince, to the chestnut foal, not to mention the inestimable stallion Mason’s Gold. Most equine details are accurate, and this includes some incredible scenes; like pursuing the stallion across the open range.

Chasin' Mason promises a lot of cowboy style action, but all the ridin’ and ropin’ manage to share a real good yarn. You’ll read this one more than once.

Netzel teamed up with a super cover artist to put to rest what must have been an old wives tale: feel free to judge this one by the cover.