Monday, January 25, 2016

Branded by Tori Carrington

This is the first of the 46 Harlequin Series romances  K.E  and I are reviewing for a feature called The Romance Brown Bag Challenge. I bought a bag of random category romance at a library book sale and we plan to read and review every single one.

 Honestly I'm not sure how to review series romances because of how. . . trope specific they can be. I've read and book buffeted a few , most of which were Presents that I heavily side eyed. So that was my litmus test with this.  How much side-eyeing could be done ?

What I found is that there is something more down to earth about the Blaze categories. I guess they are supposed to be steamy but this one seemed pretty tame to me.

 Branded is a contemporary home on the range cowboy story. It is one of those post 9/11 stories about an ex-Marine who returns to rural Texas after leaving Iraq and becomes a ranch hand. This by the way is our heroine Jo Ellen Athcinson
Our hero is  ranch owner Trace Armstrong . Can I just say our hero and heroine have the most country music star names ever ? Trace is pretty bland but is described as having  12 pack abs. . . I Googled it. It's actually kind of scary looking. Also you have to WORK for that. There's no way you just get that being a rancher. 

Since Jo has been back she's having a hard time facing  her mother who is battling morbid obesity and her enabling father. Trace has his brother (Also a Marine and from a different series) coming home to take over the ranch.  Trace doesn't like him for. . . reasons. IDK I mean I gathered  he ruined Trace's chance at joining the Marines by injuring him or something ?  Trace just seemed whiny, I think I need to read the brother's book to figure out their deal

Anywho, one night Jo decides to go hit on the boss and they start having a fling which isn't the most interesting part of the book. Honestly, the romance of this book felt like such a minor plot compared to the character's individual stories.  So much so that the last scene in this book doesn't even feature the couple but focuses more on the relationship between the brothers. I think the writers realized this because they threw in a serial rapist to serve as an extra plot point (and sequel bait . . . don't ask)
I started with this book because of the female Marine aspect, I mean that's an interesting topic but the gender dynamics of women in the military never comes up. I'm not convinced Carrington gave the female Marine angle much thought because at one point Trace says to Jo ;

 "You're a Marine. You know how to [fight] on the battlefield."

 And I was like---I'm pretty sure women aren't allowed in combat.

I also have another anecdata nitpick---  I'm not sure Carrington uses the word barbecue right or that is to say they use it in every which way possible. It's used as an adjective and noun all over this book. That just seems odd to me, I think calling a get together with grilled meat a  "barbecue" is a West coast thing.

Also, At one point in the book  Jo is wearing red cowboy boot and all I could think was.  

I liked this book, I didn't have any reason to side eye it (except for Alma the ambiguous-but-probably-a-brown- person housekeeper who is in like one paragraph)  so for me this book is recommendable.

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