REVIEW: Ambushed! by Vicki Lewis Thompson
Dear Ms. Thompson:
I know I haven’t read you in a while although I think I read a few of your “nerd” books and enjoyed them. I think I stopped reading contemporaries for a while and your books suffered the ax from my shopping list along with other stalwarts of the time like Susan Andersen. But in the past couple of years, my interest in reading contemporaries has increased as has my affection for the category novel. I haven’t been reading as many Blaze books as I have in other categories so this month I sat down to read all six Blaze releases and Ambushed! was one of them.
If I had to use one word to describe Ambushed! it would be charming. The hero was charming, the heroine was fun, and the story was sweet. There isn’t a lot of depth but it was a decent way to spend an afternoon reading.
Gabe Chance is the youngest of three brothers who are still recovering from the loss of their larger than life father, Jonathan Chance. The patriarch’s death has left a big hole in the life of the entire family and has created some familial tension as Jack, the eldest, tried to extend their father’s legacy. The Chance family are known for breeding the best paint horses around and Gabe has a champion paint that he rides in cutting competitions. Gabe is nearing a hall of fame earning mark and wants to continue to compete but Jack believes that the fees are too high to justify in the future.
Morgan O’Connelli moved back to Shoshone to start up a real estate firm. Her family had moved all over the country and spent some time in Shoshone when Morgan was a teen. She felt a connection to this town and the friends she made and always vowed to come back. As the Fourth of July rolled around, Morgan mounts an unfamiliar horse to participate in the annual parade, a life long dream.
When Gabe sees a gorgeous redhead battling an appaloosa, he moves to assist her and in the end, maybe distracted by her too tight shirt with the popping buttons, puts her up on his prize winning horse and invites her to ride with his family. His family is none too welcoming, having suffered a number of uncouth propositions from other land sharks after the death of the Chase patriarch.
There are decent conflicts in the story: Gabe’s desire to continue on the competition circuit weighing against Jack’s need to be what his father was to the family; Morgan’s lack of interest in a family paired with Gabe’s deep seated familial belonging. Yet, the conflicts are there simply to move the story along and neither of the issues are dealt with in any real depth.
Where the story shines and how it is elevated above others is the humor that is woven throughout. Gabe is portrayed as a rueful scapegrace who pretends to live life on the surface but Morgan quickly points out that he is just as single minded about competing as Jack is about running the ranch. Morgan is a very confident woman. She’s confident about her body and her sexuality and her skills outside the bedroom. I loved that. There is a scene in which Morgan is unpacking her boxes and comes across her vibrator and an old issue of Playgirl. (as an aside, it wasn’t until law school that I learned the majority of Playgirl subscribers were gay men). She decides she’ll put the vibrator to good use as Gabe has “flown the coop.” Only Gabe shows up on her doorstep.
Judging from the way she was glaring at him, she wouldn’t allow that to happen in the next million years.She looked as if she’d like to beat him over the head with that vibrator. She was obviously pissed, and he could understand that. Apparently it didn’t matter to him whether she welcomed him with open arms or not. Smiling or frowning, she was the most delicious woman he’d ever met, and he ached for her.
She kept tapping that vibrator against her thigh. “You’d better state your business, cowboy, before a neighbor drives by and gets the wrong idea.”
“I need to talk to you.” He tipped the brim of his hat up with his thumb. “How about it. Can I come in?”
Tap, tap, tap went the vibrator. “How long will it take you to say what you have to say?”
“Not long, but as you pointed out, with you in that getup and me standing at your door, it looks like we’re negotiating a price.”
“All right.” She stepped back and used the vibrator like an usher with a flashlight to motion him in. Then she closed the door and faced him. Once again she tapped the vibrator against her thigh.
“Could you put that damned thing down? You’re making me nervous.”
Instead of doing as he asked, she switched it on. “Oh, pardon me all to hell.” She advanced on him, the buzzing vibrator poised like a dagger. “I would hate to make you nervous.” She poked him in the chest with the thing.
Call me names, but I laughed like a loon at this scene. I also loved the sexy integration of the use of condoms. Thank god someone in romancelandia is using them! Particularly since Morgan had an aversion to children.
The romance is too brief to really deal with the conflicts (it happens over the course of a few days) but I laughed out loud in several places and I really enjoyed reading the confident female with the aw shucks guy that Gabe played. It was a welcome respite to the brooding alpha male and his female counterpart. A little levity can go a long way.