Dead of Winter (Battle of the Bulls Book 2)
Quickdraw Slow Burn (Battle of the Bulls Book 3)
A little update to my site: I’ve changed Book Reviews to Book Recommendations. I’m not going to be doing bad reviews. This isn’t something I just decided (it’s tacky to write bad reviews as an author), and no one is asking me to write these, so they’re honest. But for the readers, I want to always make it clear from the start that I liked this book.
And I like all of T.S. Joyce’s books.
Joyce has published well over 50 shifter romances. The bulk of her bibliography is in the Damon’s Mountain series, which I haven’t read. It’s 30+ books by now, and I simply can’t lose 2 months of productivity over a book series. Also, it looks like it’s all wolves, bears, and dragons. I know those are the perennial favorites of shifter readers, but I prefer something different.
Like bull shifters. Specifically bull shifters who work as bulls in a bull shifter riding circuit.
To further explain, this is sport bull riding, except the bulls are dudes who shift into bulls, and the riders are fully aware that they are riding dudes who shift into bulls. There’s absolutely nothing gay going on here (as far as I’ve seen, Joyce only writes straight MF) but yes, there are lots of jokes about it. And they are funny. Also, a lot of jokes that don’t work because these guys’ moms literally ARE cows.
I’ve loved (almost) everything I’ve read by T.S. Joyce, and they all have a good amount of humor mixed in with the sort of slice-of-life, cowboys and laborers and down-and-dirty stories of western romance. Where Battle of the Bulls really shines is the humor has been elevated to absurdity for a big chunk of the book. The first book revolves around the new agent for the Top Three bulls trying to get them to be even slightly professional in exchange for a big payday, and they charmingly refuse to do even the most basics of showing up to interviews and wearing suitable clothes. In the second book, the hero starts referring to the heroine as his longtime girlfriend ten minutes after they meet. They destroy everything. They fight daily. Their bulls are monsters they have no control of. They hate each other and they’re besties. There’s a lot of steak eating. They go by their bull names in human form, and it’s not like they have pet names. Two Shots Down and Dead of Winter ARE the names of the main characters from the first two books.
And there’s the heartfelt moments, the small and big tragedies in their lives. They have their traumas, their family struggles and their histories of abuse, the disasters they could have prevented, the losses that make them think they’re too broken to find love. Joyce writes a lot of these men, and she’s good at it. It’s kind of my candy. What woman doesn’t fantasize about fixing men?
Joyce also writes a lot of fan service, and the Battle of the Bulls has a cameo from the fan-favorite Kaid Brothers. The Kaid Ranch Shifters Series is a classic wolf and bear series, but they’re cowboys and honestly, you can’t go wrong with cowboy wolves. If you want to read these books in order to get the full effect of those cameos (my heart was broken when I discovered I’d read Lisa Kleypas out of order and didn’t get the fan girl cameo squee when some of my favorite characters popped up, because they popped up before I knew they were my favorites), absolutely start with the Kaid Ranch.
And if you’re not sure if you’ll like T.S. Joyce enough to commit to two series, start with the Keepers of the Swamp series. I shit you not, IT IS GATORS. And a pet dog. When I found out the third book was going to be about the dog, I absolutely had that “no fucking way this is going to work” reaction that I’m sure you’re having right now just thinking about it, and I promise you, IT WORKS.
Oh, there’s sex in all of these books. I figure that’s assumed in shifter romance, but just to be clear: THERE IS SEX. Not excessive. Just enough.
It is impossible to look sexy next to a cow, but we’re gonna do this anyway.