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 to become a ranch hand. This, by the way, is our heroine
Jo Ellen Atchinson
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. Trace’s brother is (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 Trace and his 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 though because at one point Trace says to Jo ;
“You’re a Marine. You know how to [fight] on
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. Maybe it’s the East coaster in me that wants to call it a “cook-out”.
Also, At one point Jo is wearing red cowboy boots and all I could
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.