Tour’s Books Blog

November 22, 2009

Short Review – Cowboy Cravings by Morgan Ashbury (Ménage)

  • Title: Cowboy Cravings
  • Author: Morgan Ashbury
  • Type: Contemporary erotic romance
  • Genre: Western; ménage;
  • Sub-genre: Wounded dove from NYC finds cowboy love
  • My Grade: B- (3.7*)
  • Rating: NC-17 to x
  • Length & price: 52,000 words – Short novel for $5.99
  • Where Available: ebook available at Siren
  • FTC Disclosure: ebook bought from publisher’s website

Here’s the thing with this m/f/m ménage, its sold as a Siren Ménage book and listed as ‘sextreme’, but it doesn’t read like their usual ‘sextreme’  book, which undoubtedly will disappoint some.  I thought Cowboy Cravings was well above average for character development, believability, plot, and overall writing quality for a contemporary ménage story, especially one from Siren, where sex scenes usually overwhelms the slight plots.  Others will find the book too mild for the ‘sextreme’ rating that Siren gave it and be disappointed.

Annie Rutherford went from the home of her verbally abusive father to a marriage to a verbally abusive husband, Jim Rutherford.  Jim dies in a store burglary while she’s in the hospital recovering from a coma caused by his punching her, causing her to fall down the stairs resulting in a miscarriage and her inability to have children.  But his death set her free – and his unexpected insurance gave her the money she needed to go start over, as the owner of a small dry goods store in Branchton, Wyoming.  The book opens on the day of her first anniversary of arrival in Branchton.

Jessie Conrad and Grant Douglas have been friends their whole life.  When Jessie’s parents died in car accident, it was Grant’s parents who took him in and finished raising him as their own.  Now Grant and Jessie run the combined ranches of the Conrad and Douglas families as a single operation – and both have fallen in love with the shy Annie.  When neither was willing to back off, and unwilling to risk their friendship, they had decided to just be friends Annie.  That hasn’t worked for them, so after a lot of talk, they decide to do something they never did, share Annie – if they can convince her to give them a chance.

A year in Branchton has allowed Annie time to heal and begin gaining some self-confidence.  She’s just starting to really live, thanks in part to Jessie and Grant who have become good friends of hers.  She’s also just barely discovering her sexual self, hoping her late husbands claim that she was frigid was wrong.  She even made friends with Veronica, the sophisticated manager at the bank who looks and talks like she hates Branchton even though she transferred here from the NY home office.  Another New Yorker in town is Billy, the owner of the local repair shop that does everything from motorcycles to toasters.  Odd that three New Yorkers all ended up in tiny Branchton with months of each other.  Odder still, they all stayed.

Annie doesn’t realize that she’s about to become the epicenter of several kinds of action.  Jessie and Grant are ready to make their move to lay claim to her, Rick Rutherford, Annie’s violent brother-in-law, is let out of prison.  Three people are coming after Annie for something she doesn’t know she has just as she’s finally getting a chance at a little happiness.  Her very first horse ride with Grant and Jessie turns into an intriguing proposition she finds she wants to accept.  Fulfilling the desire of the three is interrupted – so is the second chance they have a few days later.  Grant and Jessie accept this with humor and grace, but are damn glad to finally get Annie where they want her – in bed with them.  While the lovers are tentatively feeling their way into this nontraditional romance, the people after Annie are rapidly losing patience and going after what they want.

Cowboy Cravings isn’t the typical Siren Ménage raunchy sexfest.  It is warm, rather gentle love story with a good dose of suspense, a sense of humor, and a little hot sex.  It has a well developed plot, although the storyline does a stutter step in unraveling the backstory details that can be annoying at times.  As a character, Annie is far more believable than the usual ‘wounded dove’.  Annie doesn’t suddenly become a whole different person.  Her pain and insecurities are still a part of her.  Neither does it troll the pathos of emotional turmoil.  The suspense is supplied by the secondary characters stories as they play out in the background and only involves the main characters directly at the end.  The writing is mature and, aside from the choppy historical backstory, well developed.  The ending is clever, but the final sex scene seemed more obligatory than natural.  Grant and Jessie are pretty much too good to be true nice guys, but overall, still believable enough to work.

At $5.99 for a short novel, is it worth it?  I’d say yes, barely, but qualify that with a reminder this is very much an atypical Siren Ménage book, so keep the style and content in mind.  The price should have been $5.50 tops.

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