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Cattle Valley: Gone Surfin' / The Last Bouquet Paperback – July 21, 2009
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About the Author
An avid reader for years, one day Carol Lynne decided to write her own brand of erotic romance. Carol juggles between being a full-time mother and a full-time writer. These days, you can usually find Carol either cleaning jelly out of the carpet or nestled in her favourite chair writing steamy love scenes.
Top customer reviews
Mayor Quade has been pining for the young lover (and professional surfer) he met, and left behind, after his annual vacation to Hawaii. When Kai unexpectedly shows up in Cattle Valley, Quade is delighted; until he realizes how out of place Kai appears and feels. When Kai gets the chance of a lifetime to study with a famous surfer, and boost his career and dreams of designing surfboards, Quade must decide if he can let him go.
I really enjoyed this story because of the dynamic between a more mature man settled in life and career, and a young man who is really just starting his. The men are about 12 years apart, but their experiences are much more distant. I also liked how, despite the series' name, the idea that everyone must settle and have their HEA in Cattle Valley is challenged. There is a lot of hot sex, but also real issues such as long distance relationships and major life changes that the men must face. Kai's career is just about to take off, but Quade also loves his work as mayor. This isn't simple angst over miscommunication. One of these men must make a hugely life-altering decision in order for the relationship to survive. Of course, many of our favorite town residents pop in, including the town's wannabe cupid, Nate, and the opening scene overlaps with the ending of a previous story. This continues the sense of familiarity I've come to love in this series. Excellent.
The Last Bouquet
This story surprised me a bit. We have learned about Hearn, and his cheating lover Mitch, in previous stories (in particular Jax and Logan's). Mitch was killed in a car accident and Hearn has been mourning him with weekly flower bouquets at his grave. So, I expected this tale to be a cliché wherein the best friend, who's been in love all this time, convinces the protagonist to live again. And that didn't happen! Yeah!
Tyler has been in love with Hearn for some time. But, it wasn't really unrequited. Hearn feels guilty about Mitch's death. He told Mitch he was leaving him just before the accident. The story gets right into it when Jax goes and confesses his affair with Mitch to Hearn. Now Hearn knows what Mitch was really like, and can maybe start a relationship with Tyler. And they immediately start making up for lost time with hot sex. Of course, both men have issues with self esteem and jealousy but those are minor. The real shake-up for them is the little girl Hearn has fallen for at the foster care center. Having just committed, are they ready for a family?
Lynne weaves a secondary storyline about Nate into the main romance by having Hearn run for mayor against Nate. When Nate learns he must show his birth certificate in order to run, he must face his past and tell Rio and Ryan the truth about who he really is. I'm always happy to see my favorite twink, but this story was a little more than just spicy sex with the trio. Even a solid relationship faces bumps, as these three must do here. Also, since they are established, Nate's plotline didn't detract from Hearn's, it supplemented it. This story was excellent, and the added dimension of family took it to a new level. Until now, each romance ended with a committed couple. Most gay romances never go beyond this. But, surely many gay couples would want children just as straight couples do? Of course the answer is yes, and we finally see that here. I hope Lynne brings the issue up for another couple or two. I'd love to see how surrogacy or the like would be tackled. Overall, highly recommended!
- There are some subtle little details in this book that help to create more well-rounded characters, settings, and situations than in some of the previous volumes. I laughed out loud when Kai is surprised to learn how well blowing on your hands works to warm them up. (I did raise an eyebrow when he doesn't know what frostbite is, though. I know he grew up in Hawaii, but come on...he didn't have television?)
- Lynne is still setting up future romances and bringing in characters from previous stories. Unlike with some of the earlier books, though, I didn't find the number of characters in this volume overwhelming. And many of the secondary characters who play key roles in these two stories are my favorite characters from earlier installments.
- The second novella in this volume is one of the best written in the series. It's got a sweet romance--and a heartwarming element involving Gracie, a six-year-old girl--but there's also a nice amount of gravity. "The Last Bouquet" has one of my favorite endings of any of the Cattle Valley stories.
- Everything in this series happens quickly, so there's not a lot of tension or build-up. When Kai arrives in Cattle Valley, for example, after almost a year of not seeing Quade, he spots Quade right away. I was expecting (or at least hoping for) a brief pause describing Kai as he stood there drinking in the sight of his lover, admiring how beautiful Quade is, etc. But instead, Quade looks up and sees Kai right away too. The moment I craved just didn't happen.
- The editing and Lynne's writing are much improved here, but there are still some fairly consistent errors in certain areas. One is the use of question marks on sentences that aren't really questions: "He wondered if his face showed the desperation he felt, not only for Kai's body, but for his heart as well?"
- Nate, who is perhaps my favorite Cattle Valley character, figures into the second story here in a pretty major way (along with his partners, Rio and Ryan). I love them. But I was a little turned off by some of the descriptions of Nate that I felt were inconsistent with how he's been portrayed in earlier stories. He's flamboyant; I got that. But he's incredibly emasculated in parts of the second novella here. Here's an example of something Ryan says to him: "You just stick that pretty little bottom lip back in and let Rio take care of you."
Overall comments: I was disappointed in Cattle Valley 4 and worried that it was an indication that the series was headed downhill. But this might be my favorite volume of the series. I'm sure any one of the books could stand on its own just fine, but I recommend reading them in order, if only because the reappearance of characters from earlier stories is so much fun.