Six feet tall, dark-haired, dark-skinned, and good-looking (I might be fangirling here!) Toma Rozene is returning home from a film set to help in the family business after her father is injured. She takes her father’s place with her five brothers on the rodeo circuit rescuing fallen riders at risk from the bucking bronco’s and the stampeding bulls. This is unusual because women are not normally bullfighters. Toma’s trying to work out where she should be going with her life and has the summer on the circuit to try to decide.
On her first night in the ring, she rescues ‘pocket size’ Eve Angeles the current reigning World Rodeo Queen from a bull that has managed to get loose and created mayhem in the ring. Eve is golden-skinned with long dark hair in a ponytail swept over one shoulder. To be able to barrel race she works on her family’s farm as a full-time job and helps in her grandmother’s restaurant. She has almost saved enough of her winnings that she can set up a non-profit to help manage a herd of wild mustangs which are her passion.
The two women’s early meetings are a little rocky, but the slow burn starts, and you are led through dust and heat, horses and stables with dark starry nights and inner turmoil into a first-class romance.
Pros And My Favourite Parts
Castro expertly takes us through the sights, sounds, and smells of the Rodeo. The barrel racing is expertly covered, as is the role of Toma in the bullfighting team. All the action, the speed of the events, the spills, and how they happen, are the parts I loved most. Don’t worry if you’ve no idea about the Rodeo. I’m a Brit reader and I loved and understood it all. Castro is a real expert and demonstrates how much she cares about the whole environment.
Both Toma and Eve have large families and the strength of their relationships with them is a big part of the story. Their sense of belonging and responsibility is woven through the story, and I really enjoyed how much of the warmth is embedded in humor. A good example is Eve’s grandma, Alieda who is plain speaking and loves to embarrass Eve. She is delightful.
I think the best scenes of all are when Toma is feeling vulnerable. The words and descriptions Castro uses are sure and certain and have you there engaging with those feelings. Phew!
Cons And Heads Up
Sometimes there is nothing better than a slow-burn romance with two main characters that you can believe in who have moments of being vulnerable and indecisive as to the route to take. This is one of those books. It will take you out of yourself and into another world. As a reader you can settle in and just enjoy.
Excerpt from Prize Money by Celeste Castro
“Uh oh, guys and gals, cowgirl down!” Pierson’s voice cut through her confusion. “We got a bull on the loose, and he does not look happy. No siree. Folks, this isn’t uncommon that a bull breaks free; they’re so damn rowdy and hell-bent on raisin’ heck. Look at him go! Dang, he’s a big boy! I pity the bulldogger that’s gotta ride him!”
“Frida!” Eva croaked as she became aware of the unfolding scene. Her breath came in short spurts as she tried to ease the tight feeling inside. A pickup-man sprinted on his horse to catch Frida. Grabbing her reins, he made for safety. Her eyesight sharpened in time to see the spray of clumps of dirt and two thousand pounds of bull, four angry hooves, and two blunted horns heading straight for her. She closed her eyes, held her breath, and braced herself for impact. Instead, she felt the weight of a body atop her own—a bullfighter to the rescue. He used his momentum and rolled them out of the way.
“Let’s move, cowgirl.” Eva locked eyes with her savior. It was a woman. She knew all the bullfighters on the circuit; not one of them was a woman. It was Wonder Woman. The woman with the belt buckle. The woman from—
“You good?” Wonder Woman shouted.
Eva nodded that she was.
“Come on then!” Eva could only stare; could it really be her?
“Up and at ‘em, cowgirl. Up! Up! Up!” Wonder Woman got to her feet, then pulled Eva up and spun her around so she was holding her from behind. She lifted her into the air, then shoved her into the outstretched arms of a pickup-man atop his horse. He grabbed Eva by the waist, and they headed away from the chaos. Out of Eva’s peripheral vision, she caught sight of a crushing impact: Wonder Woman being knocked to her feet, taking horns to her body, being rolled again and again, and then the gate shut and she saw no more.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781951954031
Publisher: Interlude Press
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