Review: Ranch Series by JL Langley

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Rating: 5 stars for the series

We’ve looked at JL Langley’s wolf shifters and her Sci-Regency series, so let’s finish up back where I first started my love with all things JL Langley. And that would be with her cowboys which is fitting with an author who resides in Texas and has a state of imagination to equal it.  Tomorrow I will be talking about why I love The Tin Star, the very first Langley book I read.  I have always had a soft spot in my heart for cowboys.  I think it come along with my love for horses and never left.  I spent a summer as a junior wrangler at a dude ranch called Stupid Charlie’s in Colorado at the impressionable and yes, hormonal age of 15. And if I had had a dick, I would have had a raging woody all summer long from being in the middle of a crew of young,handsome (aren’t they all at that age wearing chaps and boots) cowboys more experienced than I was at that age.  I fell in love with a bay horse named Senagita and a cowboy (all of 16) named Lane and wanted to take both of them  home with me at the end of the summer.  Needless to say, my folks said no to both. Aw shucks was I heartbroken, although I can’t begin to tell you whether it was over the loss of the horse or the boy.  All I know is that I was inconsolable for the longest period of time until I found a local stable to hang out at,  Susan a fellow hunter,  and a horse we both loved called Tiptop. But I never stopped dreaming of cowboys and would go to the rodeo whenever it came to town (oh yes they did, even in DC).

JL Langley’s Ranch series gives me plenty of cowboys to love and hang out with, from Jamie and Ethan of The Tin Star to Grayson Hunter and Shane Cortez of The Broken H while bringing back so many fond memories of life on a ranch.  As she does with all her series, she populated her Ranch books with characters flawed, human and still memorable, ones we give our hearts and affections to easily and completely.  In addition to the cowboys, we also get wonderful idiosyncratic animals too.  There is a horse named Spot who plays keep away and a female dog called Fred who steals each and every scene they are in.  Gather them all together in a small town in  Texas surrounded by family and friends who comes across as equally authentic and realistic as the main characters and you have a series that will mean as much to you as your first cowboy hat and boots.

The Tin Star (Ranch Series #1) stars Jamie Killian as the youngest son of Jacob Killian of the Quadruple J and Ethan Whitehall, owner of The Tin Star ranch.  The Quad J borders The Tin Star and the two families have been intertwined their entire lives.  John, Jamie’s older brother has been Ethan’s best friend so as long as they can remember, even going off to college together.  And hopes had run high between the two fathers that one of the Whitehall boys would marry Julia, the Killian sister and bring the ranches together.  But Ethan’s brother was killed overseas on a tour of duty and  Ethan, well, Ethan found out he was gay, something the older Killians were fine with but that Jamie never knew.  Until Jamie comes out to his father and is kicked off the ranch he thought he would never leave.  When Ethan offers Jamie sanctuary and tells Jamie that he is gay as well, then the sparks really begin to fly as Jamie has harbored a crush on Ethan from the moment he knew he liked boys instead of girls.

Ethan has always been circumspect about his sexuality, neither hiding it or rubbing it in the face of their conservative town folk.  But when Jamie comes to the ranch to live, Ethan finds not only a friend but a lover for life in the form of his best friend’s brother.  But the sparks of hate are flying in town too.  Former ranch hands are looking to get even with Ethan for being fired and homophobia presents itself as stores won’t sell grain to the newly outed Ethan.  Langley makes us feel the hatred rising off Jacob Killian and other townspeople so far gone in their homophobia that all reason and humanity becomes lost.  But  where there is the worst of human beings on display, JL Langley is quick to show that others can come forward with their tolerance, and objectivity to welcome Ethan into the town’s fold, and Jamie too no matter their sexuality.  Powerful stuff made real by Ethan and Jamie’s situation as they work towards a loving relationship and a future together.  Great story, great characters, great book.

The Broken H involves several of the people we meet in The Tin Star.  Grayson Hunter was one of the sheriff’s investigation the crimes of hate on  The Tin Star.  The Broken H is Gray’s family ranch, owned by his parents and run by Shane Cortez.  Shane Cortez had been brought onto The Broken H by Gray’s father when Shane was a young boy.  Gray never knew the entire story but accepted Shane’s presence and was soon following him around everywhere, a clear case of puppy love.  But then one summer changed everything between the two men and Gray left the ranch and went to college.  His parents knew something had happened but never pushed either boy for answers.  Now Gray has returned to town and accepted a job in the Sheriff’s office.  It also means a return to his family, The Broken H, and to face the man he ran away from all those years ago,  Lovers reuniting after time spent apart draws me like a moth to a flame and JL Langley’s treatment of this theme will push all your buttons if you love it too.  There is misunderstandings, and one person trying to protect the other, and above all a deep abiding love between the two men involved.  That’s just so wonderful.

And lurking just behind all of this is the theme of the awful price GLBTQ youth pay for coming out to those who mean the most and won’t accept them, their families.  Over and over gay youth are kicked out of homes and families due to hatred concerning their sexuality.  Some survive when others intervene, some do whatever they can to exist on the streets, and some just don’t make it.  The plight of gay youth discarded because of who they love is brought home more forcibly when characters we have come to love have the same backstory as they do and we feel what they have gone through by the power of an author’s writing.  We see Ethan, Jamie, John, Aunt Margaret and many of the other townspeople we came to care for in the previous book and we get a glimpse of a possible couple that people want to see united.  That would be John and Royal.  JL Langley has put the cut pages from the book on her website and they will make you want more, so much more of John and Royal.  She tends to do that with her peripheral characters because they are bursting with life as much as the main couples to our continued appreciation and joy.

The Christmas Tree Bargain is the third story in the series.  It was published as a stocking stuffer by Loose id.  A heartwarming short story, it brings together all the cast of characters from the two novels at Christmas time.  We get to catch up in their lives on a very special occasion.  This story is not to be missed if you love the other two as much as I do.

So there you have it, the Ranch series by JL Langley.  Her fans have been screaming for more, especially John and Royal’s story but so far to no avail.  She says she’s busy with Sterling and Rhys, Trouble and Rexley, and Bannon and Lord Demon among others.  Since I want all those stories too I wouldn’t think of interrupting her.  If they start speaking to her, I know she will listen, eventually.  I’m good with that.  I have these books and all the rest to reread until a new one comes out.  Pick out a series and start from the beginning and I know you will feel the same.

Author Spotlight: An Interview with J.L. Langley

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Author Spotlight is on J. L. Langley.

I first wandered into JL Langley’s world with a story called With Love from the Hearts With The Ashes anthology.  Here I met her shifters Laine Anderson and his mate Dev and encountered JL’s wonderful blend of humor, vulnerablilltiy, angst and above all, heart that she  imbues in all her characters for the first time.  I read it once, and then promptly turned back and read it all over again.  I laughed and cried as much at the second reading as I did at the second and wanted so much more.  I wanted more of her shifters, more of JL Langley’s worlds.  Thank goodness there are plenty out there to  discover and journey through.

Next up came The Tin Star and JL Langley’s cowboys. Sigh.  How i loved them too.  You will hear more about them later on.  They will have their day, no worries.  My next love came with the wolf shifters.  That would be the  With and Without series.  Their fame has spread far and wide. Don’t speak too loudly or you will encounter the Sterling and Rhys bandwagon that careens around wildly, full of loud  fans screaming for Sterling and Rhys to be the next couple to get their own book.  One of them might even be me, uh hem.  And yes,  we will be talking more about all of them later in the week, so no fretting on the shifter front please!

Today is the day that My Regelence Rake is being released from Samhain Publishing so I know they are being bombarded by JL’s fan for theircopy of her latest  Sci-Regency novel.  Sci-Regency, what an unusual genre to be  sure.  Only JL would have thought to blend science fiction and the English Regency world and make it not only successful but downright addictive.  It all started with My Fair Captain and that delicious droll worthy cover.  This novel has remained a steadfast favorite of mine as it’s worn, dog-eared pages can attest to.

So this week, it’s all about the worlds of JL Langley and I will be giving away one copy of My Regelence Rake to one lucky commenter during the week.  The winner will be announced on Friday.  So to start off our week, let’s begin with a chat I had about how the term Sci-Regency came about.

MM:

Thank you, JL, for coming here today and participating in my first author interview. I have always been fascinated by the term Sci Regency.  Did you coin that  phrase?

JL:

“I did come up with the term and series name Sci-Regency. I’ve always loved Regency romance but wanted something different, unique. With the laws in the 1800’s being gay was punishable by law therefore it would’ve been very difficult to live openly as a gay couple. That seems so bittersweet to me. I wanted to be able to have my cake and eat it to, so to speak, so I combined Regency with Sci-Fi and wa la a truly happy ending was possible. Not to mention some cool technology and a way to bend the rules of society ever so slightly.”

MM:

I have a hard time picking out favorite characters of yours, I just love them all.  Do you have favorite characters?

JL:

“I love all the characters in this series but I have to say Steven and Raleigh, the King and King-Consort, are my favorites. I plan on doing a sort of prequel for the two of them eventually.”

MM:

My start with Regency fiction was Georgette Heyer and The Grand Sophy, a fondness that continues to this day. Do you have favorite Regency authors?

JL:

“I have several favorite Regency authors, but if I had to name one it would be Julia Quinn.”

MM:

I have to admit Georgette Heyer was my first introduction and I still love her. I love the way you blend such Regency mainstays such as horse racing, fencing, Tattersalls, and Regency dress with a science fiction setting. I love the way Regency social niceties and rules are given a m/m twist to them in your series. Here young unattached men are not allowed out without suitable escorts or chaperones. Do you ever find yourself just laughing out loud as you turn old ways on their heads in your stories? It’s such a great blend that you have achieved.

JL replies:
“I don’t know about laughing but I do love it. I really enjoy writing this series, it’s hands down my fave. I joke that I could gladly write this series and in this word for the rest of my life and be a happy woman, I really do love it.”

MM

I know you have told us but I can’t remember. Of course quite a few of us are shouting Trouble and Rexley at you! But I have to say I agree with you about Steven and Raleigh. I love their relationship and look forward to every scene with them in it. And you introduce a Cousin in this series, hmmm. Lord Demon? I know you had a recent excerpt with his name in it. Who is next in line for a book in this series?

JL:
“Blaise and Raleigh’s nephew, Dalton, (He’s the cousin “Lord Demon”), is next. After them will be Blaise’s little brother Bannon and then Rexley and Trouble. There are several guest appearances in this book by not only Steven and Raleigh, but Aiden and Nate and Rexley, Trouble and Muffin.”

Do you outline your books or have a story arc in mind when you start a new one? You are balancing so many elements in your Sci-Regency series from marriage proposals, intergalactic intrigue, and perhaps even genetic manipulation yet you still give us scenes full of passion, humor, mystery and love. What gives you the inspiration for each book?

JL:

“I do outline,but I loosely outline and leave room to change. In fact the last half of Colton’s book does not resemble the original outline at all. So it’s more of a guide than an actual outline because things are subject to change. Each book is a little difference. This one for example has less of the series plot with the IN than the others. It sort of depends on what the characters give me. For example in Dalton’s book, there is a pretty good look into Regelence government as well as Raleigh’s background. In Bannon’s book it’s very much back into the series plot. I do have an outline of sorts for each book in the series, but I am very character motivated in my writing, so things can and do change on occasion.”

Thank you, JL. I can’t wait to hear from you. I really appreciate your participation in my contest and Author Spotlight.

From the author’s website:

JL has been talking since she was about seven months old. To those who know her it comes as no surprise, in fact, most will tell you she hasn’t shut up since. At eighteen months, she was speaking in full sentences. Imagine if you will the surprise of her admirers when they complimented her mother on “what a cute little boy” she had and received a fierce glare from said little boy and a very loud correction of “I’m a girl!” Oddly enough, JL still finds herself saying that exact phrase thirty-some-odd years later.

Along with the motormouth, JL also displayed a very vivid imagination and artistic ability. The artist first surfaced in way of drawing and painting, then became more apparent with dance. JL was a member of the National Art Honor Society in high school and has won several regional and national titles in dance, specifically tap and jazz. In college she majored in Graphic Art, but chose to make dance her profession. She taught tap, jazz and ballet for fifteen years before settling into her career as a writer.

Today JL is a full-time writer, with over ten novels to her credit. Among her hobbies she includes reading, practicing her marksmanship (she happens to be a great shot), gardening, working out (although she despises cardio), searching for the perfect chocolate dessert (so far as she can tell ALL chocolate is perfect, but it requires more research) and arguing with her husband over who the air compressor and nail gun really belongs to (they belong to JL, although she might be willing to trade him for his new chainsaw).

This author also writes (m/f) under the name Jeigh Lynn.

JL Langley’s website is under construction but you can follow her through her  yahoo group, The Yellow Rose.

And her free short stories can be found at Fiction with Friction.

September’s Over, and The Week Ahead includes an Author Spotlight and Book Contest!

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The last day of September is here and once again it seems as though the month just flew by along with the Canada geese overhead.  I haven’t seen any hummingbirds for several days now and wonder if the last of the summer migrants have passed by as well.  I will leave the feeders up until next week just to be sure but the autumn wreaths are on the doors and the various maple trees have already started to turn glorious colors so the feeders I am steadily filling now are the ones that contain sunflower seeds.

My favorite month is a day away and so much is happening.  My fish are getting a deeper pond for winter and the work starts tomorrow.  Several family birthdays and celebrations are happening so I am busy with new dishes and desserts to try out.  I love new recipes and will be passing on the ones I find most successful.  October is also bringing new releases in books that I have been waiting for and closure to the Lost Gods series by Megan Derr.  I have loved my journey through the books that are the Lost Gods saga and now await the last, Chaos. Andrea Speed’s anti hero Roan get another installment too on the 5th, a date circled many times in red to make the occasion.

The first day of October starts out with a bang of a new release.  That would be My Regelence Rake by JL Langley.  JL Langley produces about one book every year.  So to celebrate the latest in her Sci Regency series, I will be giving away one copy of her book from Samhain Publishing to a lucky person who comments during the week.   It will be a great week ahead as we talk cowboys, shifters, and of course how did Regency end up in Space?  The winner of the book will be picked by Kirby on Friday!

Monday:                   Author Spotlight: J.L. Langley

Tuesday:                   Sci Regency Series Review

Wednesday:             With or Without Series Review

Thursday:                 Cowboys with JL Langley

Friday:                       My Regelence Rake  and winner of the Contest

Saturday:                   The Tin Star and why I love it.