Okay, anyone know why the new WordPress’ so-called “improved posting experience” ATE my original of this review?

There may not be a better example of the bodyguard trope in romance than the classic Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner movie.

Count on Lorelei James to create a book that goes toe-to-toe with a movie – and might even top it. Hillbilly Rockstar is the name of it, and it’s the newest entry into her Blacktop Cowboys series.

I suspect that we’ve met both Liberty Masterson and Devin McClain in previous Blacktop novels. I’m a shameful James fan and haven’t read more of the series. But it doesn’t matter, as this is the novel in which they both get to shine.

The premise is classic. Devin’s got security issues, and his people hire Liberty’s people. I mean, hello? How else can this storyline get started? We know this about the bodyguard trope. There’s not a lot of way around it. The magic here is what happens once the two start working together, Liberty pretending to be his personal assistant and not minding – much – the sneers of a band who think they know better.

Blue streak in her hair or no, Liberty’s no groupie.

So the story is really about how their romance comes about. In fact, Devin’s security threats are almost a second thought as the story unfolds, and that’s perfectly okay. This isn’t meant to be a romantic suspense, which it would become if the threat to Devin was more serious.

Really, what can you say? It’s delicious watching Liberty and Devin fall in love. If anything, I’d argue this is more Liberty’s story than Devin’s; she’s the rounder, more real character. There’s further for her to go before she can overcome her past scars. From clothing to career to learning to care, this is her journey. Devin, he just has to quit with the groupies – which he has – and take care of his band. Which he, largely, does. He has that over-the-top charisma that makes a really good rock star, and it’s tempered with more than a streak of introvert to him. But this means there’s also less of a path for him to follow in order to grow; at the end, he’s not much different from the man he was at the beginning.

But oh, who cares? I mean, we could make that same claim about Kevin Costner, right?

Where Hillbilly Rockstar gains the edge, though, is the racy stuff. Woo whee, this is author James’ strength. I know there are hordes of readers who pick up her books just for her knowledge of the fun stuff that can transpire between a man and a woman in a bedroom, and it’s hard to fault them for that. James is an author who can create amazing characters you’d like to have populate your real life. Her settings are fully researched – I can’t find a single fault with the rock and roll details in Devin’s life (although I did have a few questions for my cadre of experts, especially about the venues as the tour progressed) – and the plotlines plausible.

Really, why this woman isn’t on the best-seller lists – all of them, and for months and years on end – I don’t know. Then again, when I look at some of the drek that does make it, well, there’s no accounting for taste.

Skip those. Spend time with Lorelei James.

Disclaimer, which can’t possibly be cool the second time around but here goes anyway: Lorelei herself sent me a copy of this, in a cool pink-bound ARC edition that’s going on my shelf of keepers and not just because she autographed it. I’ve known Lorelei for years and think she’s the cat’s meow. But lest you think that stopped me from doing anything but loving this book, perish that thought. Lorelei is a seasoned pro, and she knows the value of a well-written but negative book review. In fact, I don’t blame her if she’s a bit upset, hoping I would have written her one. But … well, she’s too damn good a writer for that to happen. Really, if it had needed to, I’d have had no qualms about doing it. But I didn’t need to. So there.

  1. […] when someone dares to criticize the plot of their books, I’m gonna shut up now. You all know Susan thinks Lorelei James wrote the best bodyguard story since the movie, so right there, this book’s going to have to live up to that. And it’s spread over […]

  2. […] around here, the gold standard of the bodyguard story is Lorelei James’ Hillbilly Rockstar, so this book’s got some work to do, right off the […]

  3. […] Ahh, the bodyguard trope. You guys know that I think it’s hard to touch this one, given how well Lorelei James did it a few years back. […]

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