Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Does just the thoughts of a rodeo fill you with anticipation of fun, knuckle cracking suspense and danger? And good looking cowboys too? What happens when you take all that and add in demons, vampires, weres of all types, and a ghost or two? The answer to the last question is Midnight Rodeo: Homecoming ,a collection of three stories by authors Kiernan Kelly, Julia Talbot and BA Tortuga.
The Darque and Knight Rodeo is famous for its wild bulls, great bull riders ,over the top bullfighters and much, much more. If only the humans who came to watch knew who and what were really behind the gates and stands when this rodeo came to town. Three stories look into the lives and loves of the Darque and Knight Rodeo. This rodeo is run and employees nothing but Supes as the Supernatural are known, in search of a home, love and a family.
Those stories are Welcome to the Pack by BA Tortuga, Oklahoma Rain by Kiernan Kelly, and Big Bear, Little Bear, by Julia Talbot. Don’t miss out on a single one!
This book checked all the boxes for me. It’s got the rodeo and cowboys (as such), it’s got weres (both cat, wolf, and more), vampires, demons, and paranormals…all on the search for love, home, and a family. It’s also by Kiernan Kelly, BA Tortuga, and Julia Talbot, a trio of authors who always manage to bring it home with their stories and viewpoints. All three stories are centered around the Darque and Knight Rodeo (love that play on words).
I’ll be taking a look at each story as they appear in the book. First up? A werewolf homecoming of sorts in “Welcome to the Pack”.
“Welcome to the Pack” by BA Tortuga – 4.75 stars
Bullfighter Denver returns home when his twin brother and pack Alpha, Denton, is killed by a bull at The Darque and Knight Rodeo. Denver left the pack when it was decided that Denton would be the Alpha and now Denver is returning to reclaim the role and get the pack in order. It’s been decades since Denver has been back and the pack isn’t all that happy to see him. Denver must fight for the right to be Alpha and try to heal the hole caused by the loss of his brother. Only another outcast, Blaine, seems to be in his corner. A necessary support to have when all the bulls they fight are possessed by demons!
My favorite story of the three but not by much. The universe building here is superb. I can’t get enough of this rodeo and all the beings that make up this rodeo! This is a tale of two brothers, really. One has died by the beginning of the story but Denton’s presence is felt throughout as Denver greatly misses him and is often compared to his brother. Denver has been working the “mundane” rodeo circuit as humans are called and now returns to his former pack in disarray. They’ve gotten sloppy, mean, and not exactly welcoming to Denver. As Denver fights his way back into the pack, he finds a mate and a home. Along the way the readers finds out such details as there is a caged demon inside of each bull. I’m sure that many cowboys would find this entirely plausible! The cat shifters, a pride, that runs the cafeteria, food stands, and give massages to those they care for. I would love a story about that Pride and its members.
Blaine, an outsider by way of his unusual birth and size, is a wonderful character. I adored him and his relationship with Denver. This is the longest story of the three and could easily have been its own book. And series. Plus there is a Russian tiger shifter, Dimitri, in need of a mate. I need that story as badly as he does his HEA! I wonder if BA Tortuga takes bribes?
Oklahoma Rain by Kiernan Kelly – 5 stars
Blaze Morgan looks like a mundane but he’s not. Instead Blaze has a hidden psychic talent that allows him to scout out the locations in small towns along the rodeo circuit where Darque and Knight can set up for a while. Blaze supplies patches when holes appear in the magic wards that kept their real identities masked and the magical nature of their rodeo hidden from the mundanes that buy the tickets at each stop. Blaze even has a talent for mind control but that only applies to the humans he meets and not any Supes he comes into contact with. That proves to be a problem when Blaze finds a homeless pair hiding out on the deserted farm where Darque and Knight are getting ready to set up for a run.
Zack and 10 year old human Mikey have been using the farm as their home for a while and Blaze’s appearance shattered the temporary home they have made together. Telekinetic Zack saved Mikey from abusive kidnapper, and the farm has served them both as a place for Mikey to try and heal and a haven for Zack. Blaze invites them to join the rodeo as they can always use another psychic but not everyone is happy to have a human child around.
This story got me too. Loved poor damaged Mikey and his relationship with Zack. Zack, Blaze and Mikey make a wonderful family but not everyone is happy to have them there. Kelly builds the suspense and anguish skillfully as she does the love and bonding between the two men and the wounded child. As it all comes to an explosive ending, the reader is fully engaged and ready to do battle along side Zack, and Blaze to keep their family safe and together.
Loved this story too as so many other types of beings appear here to deepen the universe all three authors are building. Vampire Cody and Demon Philip own and run Darque and Knight, dragons are used as barrel racers and a single burp can set the tents on fire. Cheetah shifters and wolf shifters and so many others are bull riders, barrel racers, and more. There is even a Grand Wizard Dermid who sets the spells that enchant the rodeo to keep it safe. It just keeps getting more fascinating the more you know about it.
Big Bear, Little Bear, by Julia Talbot – 4.5 stars
Grizzly bear shifter Ozzie is the barrel man and clown for Darque and Knight Rodeo. Little Black Bear shifter, Ben, trains and supplies the best rodeo horses while managing on being the worst bulldogger. And Ben has the biggest crush of Ozzie but Ozzie thinks Ben’s too young and inexperienced. Then Ben is badly hurt and sent home to recover. When Ben comes back, Ozzie is surprised how much he has missed the little bear. But there’s something different about Ben, something he’s hiding and Ozzie is determined to get to the truth and let the little bear know how much he cares.
Of course, the barrel man and clown is a Grizzly shifter! How perfect! And Julia Talbot gets the feel of a bear in human form just right as they lumber along with their love of honey, fruits, and finally each other. The author brings the natural history of bears into her story in subtle but genuine ways and it just elevates this story up another notch. Ben’s injury almost killed him and the ensuing trauma has had enormous side effects, as it should. Ben’s gentleness and forlorn demeanor plays off beautifully against the jovial good nature and confidence of Ozzie. They are made for each other and Julia Talbot’s lovely story charts the path of their romance from start to finish. More please, much, much more!
I really adored Midnight Rodeo: Homecoming. I can only hope that this book is a precursor of more stories to come. Darque and Knight Rodeo is full of amazing beings, each with their own stories to tell. How did Philip and Cody get together? A demon and a vamp? What about Dimitri and the Pride of cat shifters? Plus there is Denver’s triplet brothers to get in trouble and surely other paranormals that could use a job at a rodeo? I can think of character after character with a story that needs telling and these three authors are just the ones to do it.
I highly recommend Midnight Rodeo: Homecoming. Its fun, lively, engrossing….just a great read. Pick it up and become involved in the lives of the supernatural and paranormal as they find their way to HEA and a home. You will be happy you did.
Cover by Anne Squires. Love this cover. I only wish there had been a bit of a supernatural air about it, maybe claws on the hand or something.
ebook, 228 pages
Published July 16th 2014 by Torquere Press
ISBN 1610407776 (ISBN13: 9781610407779)