Sarah's not sure where her life is going, but she knows she needs a change. Determined to find her writing mojo and maybe some direction for herself, she sets off to Texas with her horse in tow, ready to spend some time at her friend's family ranch. But a wrong turn and no map leads her to the wrong ranch, the wrong house, and the wrong shower — where just the right cowboy finds her.
The Verdict: Taken, Not Spurred sounded good in the synopsis, threw some things at me that I'd normally hate, and completely won me over. The story started out with a hilarious bang, and I couldn't put it down till I'd read every last word.
Sarah's running from her dull life back in Rhode Island, and she's hoping some time away from her broken family will clear up her writer's block and free her up enough to become the writer she's always wanted to be. But a hilarious mix-up lands her a few hours from her intended destination, and without realizing it, she's broken into a glowering cowboy's house, where she's made herself at home and is taking a shower when he happens upon her.
I just about died when I realized what was going on in that scene! Tony's shock and Sarah's mortification leapt off the pages, and as she fumbled and apologized, I instantly loved her. Tony wasn't exactly warm, but Sarah was guileless, awkward, and the perfect romance heroine to stumble into such a situation. Tony had his share of awful demons, and his self-imposed solitude was completely disrupted by the rather innocent Sarah, but she was just crazy and kind enough to throw him off his usual game.
Normally, I'd be rolling my eyes at the crazy scenario that played out, but this one was surprisingly believable. Tony had no idea what to do (and a few ideas about what he wanted to do) with the oddball woman in his home, but sending her on her way so late at night seemed wrong. And where in any other story it would have made sense for her to run for the nearest hotel, it's not like she could rent a king suite for the horse she was traveling with. Staying on Tony's ranch, even if he wasn't exactly welcoming was probably the best she could do at the time.
Tony and Sarah surprised me by how quickly they jumped into a no-strings-or-emotions-attached relationship, but again, it was actually pretty believable. Sarah was relatively inexperienced, having had a rather boring sexual relationship with a long-term boyfriend and limited experiences with other guys, but she wanted to experience the steamy scenes she intended for her romance novel, and Tony was the perfect opportunity to do so. There was a sense of adventure in her that made sense of the situation, and instead of shaking my head at how quickly clothes came off, I was instead soaking up every word.
Tony surprised me as well. His past and his internal demons could have made him completely unlikable, but something about the way he was written simply made his dark attitude intriguing. I guess you could say he was the classic brooding, untouchable romance hero who simply needed someone bright and fun to bring out his good side. Of course, he didn't make that easy for Sarah, and for the majority of the book he was in major denial, but that, too, was just perfect.
Taken, Not Spurred is an incredibly fun read, with a romantic hero reminiscent of the byronic Mr. Rochester, coupled oddly but perfectly with his hilariously entertaining opposite. And that quick jump into bed I mentioned? Holy hot scenes! Every moment had more sizzle than the last, but instead of reading like bad erotica, it made everything that much better. I'm still kind of blown away by how this book took things that are often done so wrong as to make me cringe and find a different read and instead drew them out so perfectly that now I'm wondering how my next reading choice can possibly compare. Can I just have book 2 now?