Friday, August 10, 2018

Racked and Stacked by Lorelei James

Opposites don't just attract in the West—they sizzle—and Wyoming has never been hotter than in the latest sexy Blacktop Cowboys® novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Hang Tough.

Growing up with three older brothers, Larissa "Riss" Thorpe defines the term tomboy—a moniker that never mattered to her until she crossed paths with sexy cowboy playboy, Ike Palmer. His declaration that he prefers his women soft and feminine is the one benefit to becoming his business partner. Since Riss is obviously not his type, there's little chance they'll mix business and pleasure when they're in close quarters on the road together.

Former cattle broker Ike Palmer was ready for a new chapter in his life when he partnered with Riss, a contrary redhead who lords her mechanical abilities over him at every turn. Ike raised his three younger sisters; he knows a thing or three about how women work. The problem is... Riss is unlike any woman he's ever met.

With the odds stacked against them, Riss and Ike will have to choose between the stubbornness that keeps them apart and the fiery attraction that could lead to something more...

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Book 9
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An hour later, after the bride and groom were off on their honeymoon, Riss and Ike were watching the DJ pack his equipment and the guests retrieve their coats.

Riss heaved a sigh. “I’m whupped. Bein’ the maid of honor was stressful.”

“It’s certainly been an entertaining night,” Ike said.

“Coulda been better.”

“How so?”

“It doesn’t really feel like a Wyoming wedding unless at least one fistfight breaks out.”

“Just say the word, sweet cheeks, and I’ll track Ryland down and punch him in the face for you.”

“Aw, lookit you, Palmer. Showing your chivalrous side.” She cocked her head. “Or are you just itchin’ for a fight because it’s a Saturday night and you’re a cowboy?”

“I’m thinkin’ a concussion might erase the mental image of what profile pics the Mud Lilies intend to post on Tinder.”

“And Bumble.”

“You certainly went the extra mile for them.” He paused. “Why?”

“Even though they were distracting us, they wanted advice or they wouldn’t have asked. Besides... I feel for them. Imagine outliving your husband after being married for so long. Sounds like they were used to getting it regular, and then wham! They ain’t getting any at all and they miss it. Maybe it’s unusual that they’re not looking for companionship—they’ve already got that with each other. It takes guts to try something new to reignite their sexuality. A need for intimacy is a human thing, not an age thing. I hope I still crave that lovin’, touchin’, squeezin’ when I’m past what society considers my prime.”

Ike was quiet for a beat before he said, “You never fail to surprise me.”

Riss didn’t break the moment by asking if that was a good or a bad thing. Instead, she said, “And with that... I best be getting home. I have a drop-off tomorrow.”

“You okay to drive?”

“Yep.” She pushed her chair back. “Been an hour since that glass of bubbly.” She paused and debated on bringing up the subject they’d mutually avoided.

Those eerily beautiful blue eyes locked on to hers. “What?”

“Truth time: I’m all for extending this truce.”

Ike’s back straightened and his face turned stony. “Meaning?”

“Meaning, we need to seriously talk about my future runs with Jackson Stock Contracting. Last year didn’t shape up how I expected it—and we didn’t discuss it. So I’m not sure if I somehow didn’t measure up to JSC standards. Now we’ve proved that we can be civil to each other, so I’d like to know JSC’s plans for this year.”

He granted her that insincere salesman’s smile. “I promise I’ll e-mail you a preliminary schedule next week.”

Sure you will.

“And just so you know...” He seemed unsure whether to continue before he did. “I’ve had a blast doin’ all this wedding party stuff with you.”

“Really? I thought it sucked.”

His eyebrows shot up. “You did?”

“Nah. Just razzing ya. It’s been fun in a way I never thought it’d be.”

Ike unfolded that long lean body out of the chair, then stood close enough to cast her in shadow.

“What now?”

“Gimme a damn hug.”

Her heart pounded and that made no sense. “Why?”

“Because I suffered through your blow job philosophy, deflected rumors of our secret sexcapades, helped offer senior citizens hookup advice and interrupted our buddies consummating their marriage... all in the past four hours. I’m feelin’ vulnerable and I need a damn hug.”

“Whatever will people think?”

“Probably that we’re both hammered.”

Riss laughed. “Come here, baby, and let me make it all better.”

Ike wrapped her in his arms.

Oh yeah, the man gave great hugs. And he smelled amazing too. So maybe she held on a little longer than was polite.

But Ike wasn’t inclined to let her go either.

Then his breath teased the top of her ear. “Bet this’ll get tongues wagging all over town.”

“Kneeing you in the groin would stop the gossipmongers.”

“Always with the violence.” He kissed her right cheek, then her left. “You’ll hear from me soon.”

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
3.5 stars
M/F Romance

Riss and Ike have never truly seen eye to eye. They have best friends who fell in love, so their interaction was more forced than voluntary. The two of them like to take jabs at each other. So, when their friends make them maid of honor and best man, they decide a truce is in order.

Riss is used to dealing with sexism. Being a female truck driver, she has to be tough to stand her own ground. So, for her, Ike isn't an issue. She gives as good as she gets. She also has had a tougher life than most. Growing up in the shadow of all of her brothers, she loves them to pieces and would lay down her life for them, but she also wants to stand on her own.

Ike is a rugged cowboy who likes to push Riss' buttons. He raised his sisters and has always been there for them. What starts out as a truce suddenly changes into a friendship when Ike comes to Riss' aid. Ike has some tough lessons to learn, but Riss will be with him every step of the way.

The two of them are great with the banter. They also have great chemistry. It was a little drawn out in terms of their relationship and personal issues, but overall, this was an enjoyable story.

Mary Jo☆☆☆☆
The awesome telling of frenemies-to-lovers with all twists, turns, and heat that one has come to expect from Lorelei James.

I absolutely adored this book. The characters were well-written, the story believable, and the heat between the two arcing off the page.

Strong alpha females are often written as highly successful, career-oriented women, but in this instance you get the same focused character who happens to be like a lot of people – blue collar, hardworking, and doing the best that they can. If it means working two or three jobs to make ends meet, that's what they do. No complaining, no whining.

Same for men. Most men we read about are successful or upwardly mobile. Rarely do we see a male lead admit that his business is floundering, that he can't make it work. This rare glimpse into life as most know it is great because it shows that two people who are struggling with bills can find time for love and make it work.

This is the ninth book in the series, and whilst richer if read in order, this is an excellent story in its own right.

Riss and Ike are a fantastic couple, from when we meet them coordinating their respective best friends' wedding thanks to an agreed truce, to the wonderful ending – and every page in between. Whether you had met them in previous books or not, you would learn just why these two are how they are – and what it takes to change... everything!

Riss was brought up by her older brothers, and her view of herself is as a tomboy, she works as a trucker, and she views sex as recreational rather than emotional. We soon understand why, when we meet her brothers. I loved her – and when her strong independent streak results in her badly injuring herself and in need of care, unexpectedly Ike steps up to help.

Ike brought up his three sisters, and whilst he is attracted to Riss, he blows hot and cold, one minute older brother, the next sexy cowboy. Ike is also struggling with his career status, and it is lovely to see that he trusts Riss with the issues he is having and asks for her advice. This mixture of romance, business, the impact of family on both, and the unravelling of their feelings for each other is perfect. These are two people who have to work for a living, who are not perfect, and who don't get lots of lucky breaks. They worry about the cost of healthcare, the lack of spare money, and the future.

This is a really good read, thank you for another engaging installment.

Lorelei James is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Need You Series and the Blacktop Cowboys® Series. Her books have won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, as well as the CAPA Award.

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Berkley Romance

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Racked and Stacked (Blacktop Cowboys #9) by Lorelei James to read and review.

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