Book Review: Wrapped and Strapped by Lorelei James

Posted June 15, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Wrapped and Strapped by Lorelei James

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Wrapped and Strapped by Lorelei James
Genres: Western Romance
Published by Signet on November 3, 2015
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Also by this author: "Schooled", Unraveled, What You Need, Just What I Needed, Racked and Stacked, Hang Tough, Spun Out, All You Need, When I Need You, I Want You Back, Want You to Want Me

Seventh in the Blacktop Cowboys western romance series and revolving around friends and family around Muddy Gap, Wyoming. The couple focus is on Harlow Pratt and Hugh Pritchett, three years after their leavetaking three years ago.

My Take

It begins with a vague prologue as to why Harlow took off. Well, okay, more of a glancing suggestion to begin the reader on that lonesome trail of wonder.

I’m of two minds about Dad. He is a jerk, but he is at least willing to learn from his mistakes. It is funny to watch Tierney and their dad gang up on Harlow, all in the name of making up for lost time, hormonal cravings for family, etc., all inspired by Tierney’s coming delivery and their dad’s sudden wake-up call. Thank god that Harlow finally stood up for her choices to her father and Tierney.

Huh. I gotta wonder how smart Hugh actually is when, at the start, he wonders why Harlow keeps avoiding him. You’ll be thinking that she done him wrong, and he wants an answer, but the shoe is so completely on the other foot.

Now Hugh is working hard to make up for his actions three years earlier. Considerate. Willing to talk in bed. And he sure does get miffed about that “spa day”, lol, and the topless steer riding. Nice going, ladies, excellent payback, *more laughter*…um, how can I get in on that??

Whoa, Hugh’s previous marital experiences are horrific. And I absolutely loved their encounter with his ex, lol. Unfortunately, James left off an excellent opportunity to use his ex as Hugh’s excuse to not want to get involved, to milk it for drama and emotional tension. Instead she leaves very vague hints that took forever for me to pick up on.

A secondary conflict is Hugh’s frustration with Renner’s lack of decision about the stock company. Fredrick poses a third conflict with plenty of symptoms regarding the signs of an abusive relationship. As for Gene Pratt being a player…yeah, I suppose he is, but I wish James had played up these other dramatic moments as much as she played up Gene foolin’ around. Then when Gene’s actions cause the showdown, James fizzles.

We get a piece of Karen’s back history; she sounds like a gem!

That chili cook-off was a crack-up. And talk about defensive!? Although I gotta say I have to wonder about Harlow’s reactions. Why would she only start throwing up after she knows about the meat? And, no, I am not condoning what those jerks did. I’d like to have had a hand in Hugh’s actions too! I sure did appreciate what he said in her support!!

“You entered vegetarian chili at a county event in beef country.”

It’s not my cup of tea, but I do appreciate Harlow’s convictions and her willingness to volunteer to help people. And I certainly agree with her convictions that countries should only work with organizations that will respect that country’s values and beliefs. I also appreciated that bit of insight into how and why Harlow got caught up in her humanitarian causes.

“Volunteering made me feel good about myself. People relied on me.”

I enjoy reading up on characters in a series and seeing how they’re getting on, but the romance between Harlow and Hugh isn’t believable. James isn’t making me believe in the attraction. Especially when Hugh was the one originally at fault, and now he’s suddenly laying down the law about their exclusive relationship?? Meantime, Harlow’s been whining about Hugh dissing her and then becoming so possessive, and when he goes overly protective in the bar…oh, brother… As for putting Hugh on the same shelf as Fredrick…gimme a break…he’s nothing like him. Duhhh…

Wrapped and Strapped is all over the place, bouncing from one angle to another, its characters switching up and down and from side to side; it was annoying.

The Story

Flower child, vegetarian, and humanitarian Harlow Pratt and gruff, strapping cattle ranch foreman Hugh Pritchett have been taunting each other for years. Hugh thinks she’s nothing but a spoiled rich girl, and he’s had enough of that life with his ex-wife. Harlow thinks Hugh is an ill-mannered troublemaker who wouldn’t know fun if it bit him on his tight denim-clad butt.

When they’re forced together at the Split Rock Ranch and Resort, everything changes. They might be polar opposites, but working out their differences skin to skin, in the dark, seems to help their incompatibility a lot. But when trouble from both their pasts comes calling, Harlow and Hugh have no one else to lean on. Can they trust one another enough to make it through the hard times together… or will their tentative truce fall apart?

The Characters

Harlow “Harlot” Pratt, Tierney’s free-wheeling sister always flitting about the world on her “humanitarian” missions, has come back to the Split Rock to help her family out and tend bar.

The recently divorced Hugh “Grumpy” Pritchett is the foreman and livestock manager for Jackson Stock Contracting at the Split Rock. Mary is the sister to whom Hugh isn’t speaking. His ex-wife, Cleo Ashland, had been the spoiled daughter of Ramses Ashland who owns the Ashland Ranch and Stockyards. Tallulah is Cleo’s daughter.

The Split Rock Ranch and Resort is…
…owned by Renner and the very pregnant brainiac Tierney Pratt Jackson (Wrangled and Tangled, 3). Rhett is the expected baby. Isabelle is their three-year-old.

Harlow and Tierney’s father, Gene Pratt, has been a prat most of their lives with his interest primarily tied up in Pratt Financial Group. Now he’s gotten a wake-up call. Karen is his valued executive assistant. Jean was the mother who died in childbirth. Barbara was the nasty “Christian” stepmother who got rid of Rosa, their beloved maid, and Beedie, the “butler”.

Tobin Hale works under Hugh, sort of. He’s primarily concerned with a new breeding program that includes Dream Killer; BB is the legendary bull; CC is his promising son while DD, Triple E, and Double F are still too young. Jimbo is one of the horses.

Harper Turner (she’s married to Bran Turner who is gaining a reputation for tying flies; Saddled and Spurred, 2); Tanna Barker and Harley (Zinnia was her sister) work Wild West, the clothing store; Janie Lawson, the general manager, is nursing the new baby (Brianna is her and Abe’s daughter; Wrangled and Tangled); Jaxson Flint is Dodie’s grandson — Dodie is the cook; and, Lela and Yvette are maids (Dave is Yvette’s husband). Lainie Lawson, a nurse, is Hank‘s wife (Corralled, 1) and keeping an eye on Gene’s rehab. Dr. “Fletch” Fletcher is the local veterinarian (Turn and Burn, 5). Eli. Ike is a cattle broker. Larissa “Riss” Thorpe drives a cattle truck.

The Mud Lilies are…
…a group of wild old ladies with a part ownership in the Split Rock whose battle cry is “Lilies Before Willies”. The ladies include Garnet, Miz Maybelle, Pearl, Bernice, Tilda, and Vivien. And they’re bemoaning the loss of all them young bucks, including Devin who has married Liberty (Hillbilly Rockstar, 6), Abe Lawson (Wrangled and Tangled), Kyle Gilchrist (One Night Rodeo, 4), and Max.

The Buckeye is…
…a bar in Muddy Gap that is run (and part-owned) by Sherry Gilchrist, Kyle’s mother. Emil Pharris and Tort Franklin are some of the cowboy patrons.

Dr. Mazur is a cardiac surgeon in Denver. Charlie is a hospital coordinator. Greg is Pratt’s tailor at Bergdorf. Gigi and Madge are the coordinators of spa day. Sheena is the pleasure business expert. Dolores is quite good at artistic waxing. Alton and Piker are some of the hired hands on the stock drive. Bleeker is the school that has offered Harlow a teaching position.

The relief team headed…
…to a yearlong tour in Laos was led by Fredrick. The team included Daphne, Nico, Pat, Rialta, and Erika. Aida is a counselor in Florida.

The Cover and Title

The behatted Hugh’s nicely muscled back draws the eye right in, and then I noticed that gorgeous pink and blue sky. The landscape is a typical Wyoming plain with those distant mountains with a tiny barn way back there, enhancing that sense of distance. The royal blue title is almost unnoticeable tucked up in the left side of the sky while the white of the author’s name spans the bottom of the cover.

I am utterly clueless on the inspiration for the title, Wrapped and Strapped, unless it’s the more metaphysical idea that Harlow and Hugh have wrapped around each other, circling and circling, until they finally strap themselves together.

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