Review: The Cowboy’s Rodeo Rival by Leslie North

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Author: Leslie North
Series: Grant Brothers #3

Pages: 156

contemporary_romcowboysarcangry

Nate Grant knows that his eldest brother has the respect, his middle brother has the smarts, and he was left to fight for his own piece of the spotlight. Thus, began his daring, dangerous, and often a little bit crazy foray into the world of rodeo. Now, with his career on the rise, Nate is back in town to do a promotional show at the local Strawberry Festival to land himself a major sponsor. But when he arrives expecting to be welcomed as the hometown hero, he instead finds himself challenged by the only person who could ever make him shake in his boots: Athena Moore.

Athena grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Limited money for rodeo lessons or competitions meant that while she could best the boys, she couldn’t follow them to the big leagues. Watching Nate excel really lit a fire in her britches and after school she began training and teaching young girls rodeo skills. Winning against Nate at the upcoming Strawberry Festival will show the girls (and Athena) that they could do anything boys could—and do it better to boot.

But promoting the event means Nate and Athena are forced to spend time together. Too much time to keep their tumultuous feelings under wraps. Now, there’s a grudging respect to their relationship and a heavy dose of passion too. But as Nate and Athena get closer, their competition becomes public via a reality show. When the lines between promotion and passion are crossed, they’ll be forced to ask themselves what it is they’re fighting for…and what they’ll lose if they win.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is the end of my particular ARC marathon, so don’t mind me if I seem drained and the review is a gibberish even harder to crack than a Illuminati puzzle. I’m going to need a rest from NetGalley and review my relationship with that site. It is great, but those damn request buttons are so tempting!! I will need to control myself next time, otherwise I will end with too many ARCs and too little time to read them… like this year. But enough about me, I’m not reviewing myself today (I would barely give me 2 stars right now, by the way…). Let’s put our hands all over the third Grant brother!!

We go back to that Texas town to meet Nate Grant, the rodeo celebrity who drives all woman crazy with his good looks and his womanizer attitude. He is back in town to take part in a rodeo competition that is just a PR stunt for him. But for Athena, that competition could mean her first step into a life as a professional. The weeks before the big day, Nate has several public appearances in order to promote himself. One of them is teaching in Athena’s class for little girls interested in rodeo. The special spark between the two of them is obvious, so Nate’s agents and producers decide that a reality show following both of them could be a great idea…

What the previous book lacked of, this last one has plenty of it. Well, maybe that is going too far, but the third book is way more lively with interesting situations happening almost in every chapter. And yet, I’m not 100% happy with it. Not even a 50%. In all these books I have read lately there were great ideas, nice starting points that could lead to something noteworthy. But in the end, everything is underveloped and the ending tends to be rushed and weird. This one is no exception. I love the idea of following the blossoming of a romantic relationship surrounded by PR stunts. That keeps the reader engaged wondering what is real and what is just pretending in front of the cameras. The tension keeps growing and growing until everything explodes. That climax is so epic, that the damage control should have taken waaaay longer than a half-hearted final chapter.

The length of these books is their greatest asset and their worst enemy at the same time. Due to the style of the author, I’m almost certain that longer books would be burdened with too many boring moments. I don’t want that to seem like hard criticism. These books fill masterfully the spot for extra-light summer readings where you don’t want to invest too much brain processing in order to truly relax during holidays. Nothing shameful about it! It is just that in order to achieve that lightness, some plot and character development must be cut down.

This time the characters don’t seem like a couple of sloths taking a nap as in the previous book. They have some personality that I’m thankful for. Nate is cocky, which helps in the daialogues due to the banter that is usually linked to that behaviour. But he is also humble enough to accept when he is wrong and to take notice of Athena’s emotions. Yes, he is pretty clumsy emotionally speaking; but he is always willing to learn from his mistakes, which makes him a good character in my book. I also like that Athena doesn’t drink the cool celebrity aid Nate is pouring for everyone. She has an opnion of her own and she is not afraid to let him know about it. But even though they have that kind of personality that could bring a lot of deadpan humor into a story, I’m afraid that spice is mostly ignored. Once again, we are in front of a lost chance for good sense of humor!

The development of the romance is OK until the ending, which happens all too fast. But I don’t really mind, because I was mad about another detail that kept my rage entertained. They are constantly bablbing about the competion during the festival. Nate vs Athena in an epic rodeo spectacle. I had great interest in it, because I have no idea what they have to do in that rodeo thingy. In my ignorance, I thought they were bullriders, but they actually ride horses… I was hoping for some enlightment and also to a good and healthy competition between the stars of the story. It pissed me off big time that that huge event was reduced to a couple of lines in a retelling of that day…

ARCs no more (for now)! Well, being honest I still have a couple, but they are the third and fourth book of a saga I have yet to start, so I’m not reading them anytime soon…

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