Saturday, October 4, 2014

Spaghetti Western by EM Lynley

Title: Spaghetti Western
Author: EM Lynley
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: LC Chase
Genre: Contemporary Western
Length: 220 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

A Novel in the Delectable Series

Cordon Bleu-trained chef Riley Emerson arrives in Aspen, Colorado for a summer at the best restaurant in town, only to discover his jerk of a boyfriend has dumped him, leaving his heart and his plans in tatters. Doubting himself and longing for a change of pace, he takes a low-paying position at the Rocking Z guest ranch, though he expects nature up close and personal won’t hold a candle to his exciting Paris lifestyle.

When born-and-bred cattle rancher Colby Zane spots a newcomer being pawed at by a passel of horny cowboys at Aspen’s Club Rawhide, he rushes in, throws the guy over his shoulder, and rescues him. Sober, Riley Emerson is sweet and sexy, but not interested in more than a one-night stand. Still, Colby’s over the moon when Riley later arrives as the new cook on his family’s ranch.

But all’s not well at the Rocking Z. Unsurmountable financial problems force them to seek a cash infusion from outside investor Fitz Wellington. Fitz is hot for Colby, and he won’t sign on the dotted line without some very personal incentives. The future of the ranch is at stake, and Colby’s just that desperate, but saving the Z might mean losing Riley.

Well, this was a roundup of emotions, a couple crossed signals, and an excellent ending. I've been reading this series, where the books can be read in any order, and enjoying them greatly. We get a tiny cameo from Josh Golden from Lighting the Way Home, another novel in the series, but the story lies in the mountains of Colorado.

Riley and Colby are such opposites, but they have a huge similarity – they’ll take what the other one says at face value, which makes for a couple of problems. If the other guy is saying what he thinks you want to hear, and not what he’s really thinking, or letting you make assumptions, it’s going to take a while to get to the truth.

Which is fine: they take us along for the ride. Riley’s walked face-first into a door with his perfidious boyfriend, who turns his life completely upside down so they can be together, and then again when boyfriend doesn’t want so much to be with Riley after all. Riley’s self-destructive reaction to that needs someone who’s thinking clearly enough to save him from himself, enter Colby, and then exit Riley, because that episode’s over and done.

So when Riley takes over the kitchen at what turns out to be Colby’s ranch, they’ve got a really bad foundation for anything lasting. Given their shifting workloads and need for secrecy, they also have a bad time getting together for the no-strings-attached nights that each thinks the other wants. And when things start to change and the grabby PITA investor shows up, they’ve got another set of problems completely.

These two guys whipsaw us and each other while they’re figuring out how to save all the bacon, and it’s fun to watch. You can pretty much see each of them sliding over the cliff called love, grabbing at straws and other handholds to keep from getting involved when each thinks the other’s only in it for right now. It delays an obvious solution to another problem, but the joy of this story is the journey as much as the destination. It’s a good look at early love, and the intersection of desperation and the unthinkable.

Fortunately, Colby’s family is pretty accepting, and Riley’s sister, the only one of his family we really meet except through some unhappy memories, is all for this match of haute cuisine and down-home cooking. Riley’s got to learn a whole new culture, where a pasta salad and marinated fruit aren’t enough calories, stick to the ribs food means survival, and where land isn’t just a possession.

The author’s found a new, higher gear in her writing and her character’s interactions, which carries the story along and a quick clip. Everywhere but into the sex scenes in the later part of the book, where a same-saminess encouraged me to skim and I was happy where it was allowed to fade to black in a few places. A few things could have stood to be fact checked with a native, but most folks won’t spot that. I live out here, I notice.

But I loved the ending, so full of hope and woven of clues laid all along the way—this story has so much wrapped up that even if Riley and Colby don’t make it after all (though I hope they will!) the Rocking Z surely will. 4.5 marbles

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