The eleventh book in the Cattle Valley series is the classic example of why this is a serial, and it's almost impossible not to read it in the right order. Bo Lawson is a spin off character from another serial, Campus Cravings. He was Lark's first lover, and he had a quite important role in Lark's book, A Biker's Vow. In that book, Lark and Kade were considering to move in Cattle Valley, and Bo tagged along when they went to perusing the area. He liked the place and he decided to stay; in the very first scene in Cattle Valley he set his eyes on Rance, but in the following books there was no indication on what happened to them. In this perspective, you are not forced to read all the Campus Cravings books to enjoy this one, but maybe it would be better if you read at least that book, A Biker's Vow.
Bo is a friendly and handsome man, so friendly that he managed to stay friend with Lark even after their relationship ended and he married with a woman. Bo lived in a Canadian "free love" community, and why he married a woman it's not quite clear, since Bo's preferences are all for men. But in the community the marriage's bond it was not so important, it was almost like a roommate statement, if you are married, you share a room, nothing else. Bo's main characteristic in that story it was his HIV positive status, something he shared with Kade, and this allowed Kade to see that, even if positive, you can still have a normal life, with some precautions more, but still a life. The same acceptance Bo found in the community, he finds also in Cattle Valley, and when his story starts, he is in the middle of wooing Rance, trying to overcome Rance's barriers.
It's not Bo's HIV+ status that put a stop to their story, it's something in Rance's past; I like this taken on the story of the author, she deals with Bo's illness in a light mode, but not underestimating it; I believe that she willingly decided to not make it the turning point of the story but at the same time giving the right importance to the matter. Actually, once the reader finds out Rance's secret, compared to Bo's trouble, I had almost a reaction like, "well, is it all? And you have a problem due to that?" and since I'm quite naughty, I also anticipated the enjoyable conclusion that Bo arrives to... I don't want to give up the story, but it's all a question of right angles ;-)
Book 11 in the series is one of those books that is nice and good, without any breaking event, but nevertheless essential to the story; it serves also to know something more about Jay, the almost androgynous new Cattle Valley's character, and about Asa, the multimillionaire gay man who decided to move in Cattle Valley, but that I still haven't quite framed.
Amazon Kindle: Cattle Valley: Eye of the Beholder
Cattle Valley Days (Cattle Valley 12) by Carol Lynne
As I have already had the chance in the past to notice, Carol Lynne can write light and almost unbelievable love story, where everything is perfect and the happily ever after is just there around the corner, and then, she suddenly comes out with a full drama, like Cattle Valley Days.
From the blurb and the beginning of the story, I was ready to read one of those wrap up books that usually an author writes when a series is going on for so long that she fears the readers could have lost the thread. These books usually are light and funny, a all come together type of story where old and new friends meet, they share happy news and are all good. In this one, Carol Lynne also gets together even the Good Boys, the characters from the Good-Time Boys series from which she span off the Cattle Valley one.
As it should be, the main characters of Cattle Valley Days are once again Nate and his partners Ryan and Rio. Nate is plunged till his head in trouble to organize the Cattle Valley Days, the rodeo weekend during which there are also sports tournaments, carnivals and a great ball on the street. For Nate this is the final test, the time he can prove to the city that he is a good mayor; only that Nate is not able to delegate, and he is taking all the decision on himself, from the big things to the smallest trouble. This reflects bad on his relationship with Ryan and Rio, for different reason: Rio was used to have Nate around him all the time, even if they have an official job as owner of the local gym, they actually spent all the time matchmaking their friends, and waiting for their Alpha man Ryan to come back home. They were like boys at play, taking all with lightness. Now Rio is all by himself and he feels lost; he also fears that he is living again the nightmare of his parents' divorce, when he was forced to choose between them: if put in front with the question if he prefers Nate or Ryan, he really doesn't know what to do.
On the other hand, Ryan at first is supporting of Nate. He knows what it means to be in charge, and he thinks to understand Nate's stress. But then the lack of Nate's availability starts to get even to him. And maybe he starts to feel like he is no more the Alpha man he was before. Nate is trying to do everything by himself, he doesn't search Ryan's counseling, and Ryan doesn't like it, he wants to be there for his man, he likes to be the mainstay of their relationship.
So on, the story was less light than I was expecting, but it was still a simple quarreling among lovers, nothing major and something they obviously can deal with. Then Carol Lynne decides to give a dramatic spin to the story, something that involves not only Nate, Ryan and Rio, but all the town of Cattle Valley. And this is like an earthquake to all the series, since, more or less, Cattle Valley till now was like the Paradise, a place where everything was perfect, where everyone knows everyone else, and where it was only a question of time to find an happily ever after for your own. Maybe after 11 books, Carol Lynne decided to give a taste of reality even to her perfect little paradise place on earth.
It was a surprising read, something unexpected. At the end of Book 11 I was waiting for Jay's story, and when Cattle Valley Days came out, truth be told, I was a bit disappointed: why Carol Lynne felt the need to write something more on an "old" trio like Nate, Rio and Ryan, when she had so many new possibilities with characters like Jay, Enrico, Asa or Mario? Now I understand that she needed to prove that, in Cattle Valley you can dream, but nevertheless, it is a place like all the others, where there are good and bad things. It's a splash of reality that gives deepness to this fictional world.
Amazon Kindle: Cattle Valley Days
Amazon: Cattle Valley Vol 6: Eye of the Beholder / Cattle Valley Days (Volume 6)
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (August 19, 2009)
Series: Cattle Valley
1-2) Cattle Valley 1: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/21160
3-4) Cattle Valley 2: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/28565
5-6) Cattle Valley 3: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/32648
7-8) Cattle Valley 4: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/40542
9-10) Cattle Valley 5: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/52870
11-12) Cattle Valley 6
Cover Art by April Martinez
Cover Art by April Martinez