Well, I figured since I fell in love with these books (and several others) not long ago, I should make a little review and tantalise you guys with something delicious I discovered recently.
Cattle Valley is in fact a series of gay novels (over 20 ebooks now) by Carol Lynne centring around a fictional town called, you guessed it, Cattle Valley. The town was started by a man who was a bazillionaire, who’s son was killed in a hate-crime many years ago for being gay. This man bought land from the government, and created a town where people of all sexual orientations could live and love without judgement or prejudice.
This, of course, neatly puts tons of hot gays and lesbians into one location. Ever read a book, fiction or RP where EVERYONE is gay and it just doesn’t feel natural? Well, this is how Carol deals with the co-incidence of having a town populated by almost exclusively gay, lesbian and bi-sexual couples (and one transvestite who appears as a side character in a later book. I don’t know if she makes more of this character in subsequent stories because they’re not out yet).
So, what’s good about it?
As the name suggests, Cattle Valley revolves around a small town in a valley, surrounded by cattle farms. So yes, this means cowboys. Hot, sweaty cowboys in tight, worn and faded jeans man-handling enormous cows and bulls all over the shop, while flexing their lovely muscles and accidentally-on-purpose revealing their ripped six packs. I like the gays, I like the cowboys, and so it follows that I like the gay cowboys. It’s a win-win situation. My inner yaoi fangirl squees when I see a new book is out in this series.
Carol also deals with different styles of relationship. Traditional gay couples, less-than-traditional d/s couples, and several threesomes are scattered around her novels, at least one of them involving a woman with two men, but most of them between three guys. (A note on threesomes – in these books they are committed relationships that happen to contain three men. Sometimes when I say ‘threesome’ it has the connotation of a one off encounter but not so with Carol’s books usually).
She also carefully and touchingly deals with the challenges all these lovely men face in their lives. One of her characters is paralysed from the waist down, another novel’s main character has AIDS and another is diagnosed with Manic-Depression. Another is a pastor who must deal with his faith and the community who was betrayed by their previous preacher. Army veterans with PTSD, chefs with attitude problems, abusive exes, rodeo riders, sheriffs, surfers, fire-fighters *nosebleed*, divorced dads, the members of the town each have their story throughout the 20+ novels.
One of my pet peeves is how a novel will sometimes start off with a character faced by these challenges and how somehow they all go away once the character has fallen in love and had mad mansexy timez. Although we like to think mansex cures all ills, it just doesn’t. In Cattle Valley, however, the characters usually still have a lot of issues by the end of the books. They aren’t miraculously walking, or cured of AIDS, or over the trauma of war. These things don’t just go away on their own in real life and they don’t just go away on their own in Cattle Valley. Which makes the struggles you see the characters face all the more real and believable. (And, for me, I love these guys even better than I might have if they weren’t so three dimensional).
What’s even better is, as the series continues, characters who you fell in love with don’t just disappear. They are the friends, colleagues, family of the people in books to come, and their relationships are so neatly woven it took me a while to realise how cleverly knit together the series was as a whole.
You’d also think after 20 books Carol would have run out of new ways to have smexy timez. She doesn’t. It’s still hot and steamy but then, I find all mansex hot and steamy so maybe I’m just easy to please in this arena. (Oh, and I don’t think she ever forgets the lube and condoms. Gotta love a modern woman!)
Warning (or maybe Advertising): There’s girlsex!
Well, Cattle Valley doesn’t just cater to gay men. It also caters to the ladies who like ladies. And since we’re all about free loving on this website, I had to mention this. Carol Lynn does not write the books centred around the lesbian couples (and I haven’t read them because I’m just not into girls so I can’t pass judgement) they are written by Jenna Byrd for the series. And these smexy ladies make appearances in the other Cattle Valley books that I have read. If you like girlsex, read them, I say.
What’s not so amazing about Cattle Valley?
Um, I really struggle to think what sucks about this series coz nothing does. It’s easy, sexy reading and I love it. If you’re after a vocabulary lesson or a deep philosophical discussion on life, the universe, and everything, perhaps these novels aren’t for you.
I suppose if I had to pin down one tiny thing then it’s how Carol likes to tease us at the end of each book with a glimpse of what will happen in the next book – or rather, WHO will happen in the next book. She has this seamless way of weaving character interactions together that you don’t even realise you’re desperate for THAT GUY’S story until that last chapter when she hints he’ll be the focus of the next book. It makes me want to scream at her for teasing me! Um, I guess that’s a bad thing? Actually it isn’t, but in one or two these glimpses are less natural and more shoe-horned in so they’re a bit jarring at the end.
Also the books are usually less than 100 pages long and I prefer longer novels.
In a nutshell, I recommend you try the books. Even the first one is worth the effort and once you read that I’m pretty sure that most of you will enjoy it and want to read more.
Carol Lynne doesn’t just write Cattle Valley, she has several other series and stand alone books are available at http://www.carol-lynne.net/ (for a shorter series I recommend her Poker Night series – very enjoyable)
All the Cattle Valley books are at http://www.cattlevalley.net (including the girlsexy Jenna Byrd ones).
This review is my honest opinion. I don’t know Carol Lynne, and she doesn’t know I worship her from afar.