A calculatingly sweet, hard-not-to-like debut set amid the dusty, manly rodeo circuit of Cheyenne, Wyo., by the author of Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America (2001).
Burana tosses in all the elements here for a compelling, one-handed summer sizzler: big-sky country, horny rodeo riders and their roadies—the sexy, easygoing ubiquitous “buckle bunnies” who turn up in skimpy tops and don't mind when their cowboy is married—and lots of beer-swilling in raunchy roadside watering holes that hold Bikini Bull Ride competitions for the regulars. Daryl Heatherly, at 23, a graduate of Colorado State and an aspiring painter with a belly ring and hair to her waist, heads out from Denver, after a nasty breakup from her novelist boyfriend who didn’t appreciate her, and takes off for Cheyenne, where her older brother, Jace, has to ready the family homestead for sale. Their parents divorced years before, leaving Jace, a recovering drug addict and secret homosexual, to keep the horse-farm running. But times are hard, and the rapacious real-estate agent is scratching at the door. Daryl finds a job cleaning rooms at the local Twin Pines motel, and settles back easily into her clutch of good-time girlfriends, like the irrepressible Kimber, divorced with a kid she sends back to her ex for the summer so she can find herself a cowboy. Soon, Daryl finds her own rodeo rider to love: J.W. Jarrett, a compact 41-year-old ex-champion with plenty of buckles and scars to prove it. Divorced, with a young son named Troy, J.W. is struggling honorably to make a living in the relentless Western rodeo circuit, but still lives in the shadow of his more glamorous, successful older brother, Duff Linsey, a cowboy-turned-movie-actor. A love affair grows between the grizzled old cowboy and his sweet girl: He calls her “precious” and she calls him “Daddy.” Burana once again has done her research.
A touching winter-spring romance amid full Western regalia.