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Monday, June 20, 2011

The Bull Rider's Secret by Marin Thomas

The Bull Rider's Secret by Marin Thomas
Publisher: Harlequin American Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (224 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Azalea

Brody Murphy lives one day—one ride—at a time. No home, no responsibility, no one depending on him. As long as the bull rider keeps moving, he can keep it that way. But when Brody meets Ricky Sovo and his mother, rancher Katarina, he finds himself lingering in one place for the first time in years.

Kat's unlike any woman he's ever known—feisty, stubborn and determined to make it on her own. But that independent streak has gotten her in trouble with a couple of local ranch hands. She needs Brody's help. Only, helping means sticking around, and that's not something Brody can do. For Kat makes him want more from life, more than he feels he deserves. She may be his only chance at accepting his past…but he's not sure he can ever stop running from it.

Could two such different people as Brody Murphy and Katarina Sova find anything in common, let alone share a romance?

Brody, a bull rider and, by his own admission not a very good one, lives for the moment and the ride, which is the only thing that makes him forget the death of his daughter, Angel. He moves from rodeo to rodeo, and seems to have a death wish. So deep are his hurt and his feelings of unworthiness that he cannot allow himself to feel anything else...until he meets Ricky Sova and his mother, Kat.

Kat works as a farrier on The Wild Rose, a Texas horse and hay ranch, a job she wants very much to keep. Until now, her work has taken Kat and Ricky wherever they find it, and their lives have shifted as they move from place to place in an old trailer that belonged to her grandfather. Kat wants more: a real house to live in, a permanent job with benefits so Ricky can go to school in town. She needs normalcy, something she hasn't known until now. As a teenager, she became pregnant with Ricky, and Dwayne, his self-centered ne'er-do-well father had no desire to assume responsibility, so the bulk of the work of raising Ricky since the death of her grandparents has fallen to Kat.

Now, the owners of the Wild Rose are on an extended tour of Europe, and they've left Kat in charge. She knows that if she can make a success of the ranch tasks, the foreman position—and the cabin—can be hers.

At a Wild Hog Explosion event, Brody meets Ricky who has come searching for his father. They team up and after the event, Brody drives Ricky home. Kat has just fired two cowhands who've refused to take directions from a woman and is now short-handed. She offers Brody a job, which he refuses. However, later, in town, he overhears the two cowhands making plans to do mischief at the ranch so Kat will be forced to take them back. Feeling a sense of responsibility, Brody goes back to warn Kat...and ends up being talked into taking the job for a few weeks.

I liked the way the plot was set up, and that both Brody and Kat had serious issues. Brody's "no home, no responsibility, and no one depending on him" modus operandi clashed with Kat's need for stability and for putting down roots. Her independent streak, however, may have gotten her into a trouble from which even she cannot get out, and it's up to Brody to do some soul-searching to see if he can be the man she needs.

The Bull Rider's Secret has moments of pure joy as well as tension. The love scenes are done with a deft hand, filled with lots of emotion without graphic details. My only niggle is that Brody took a very long time to come to his epiphany, and I was ready to shake him. Ms. Thomas, however, did an excellent job of tying up the loose ends. Put this on your TBR list. It won't disappoint.