Picture Perfect Cowboy
I’m always happy to find something spicy that doesn’t wallow in angst, and Picture Perfect Cowboy is precisely that.
Jason Waters, retired rodeo champion, agrees at the last minute to fill in for an injured friend in a naked men reading books calendar photoshoot to raise money for a literacy charity. The photographer, Simone Levine, stuns him – not with her pink hair, or with her many tattoos, but in her open admission to being a part-time professional submissive. See, Jason has long harbored fantasies of spanking and punishing a partner, but his deeply conservative upbringing makes him fear acting on it. Getting to spend the weekend playing with Simone is the most liberating thing that’s ever happened to Jason – but what comes next?
In a nice change of pace from angsty erotic romance, neither of these people is hugely messed up. In fact, they’re both extremely kind, with Jason using his retirement to train therapy horses and Simone sending thoughtful gifts. Jason has money, but he’s not a billionaire-sex-dungeon cliché. Simone is submissive but is a fully realized human being who stands up to Jason when his behavior outside of the bedroom makes her feel demeaned. Their conflict is reasonable and requires maturity to work out. Hooray for well-adjusted kinksters!
I appreciated that the author clearly did research and filled in her setting. Jason’s horse training includes sensitizing the horse to women as well as men. The rodeo trophies are so heavy they’re almost unliftable. Simone creates a professional, supportive atmosphere on a nude photo shoot – and she lives in a believable NYC one-bedroom!
Downsides of this book? It’s part of the Original Sinners series, and that series’ protagonists, Nora and Soren, appear in this one. While the author holds out for a long time without making them annoying, she finally breaks and has Soren and Nora both intimidate Jason (Jason! Who made a career out of dominating 1,500 pound violent bulls!) This really hurt my enjoyment of Jason as a hero. Nora, in particular, is irritating as the world’s most amazing domme, except she’s also a switch, and when she’s a sub, she and Soren have the world’s most amazing D/s relationship. Go posture on your own page count, Mary Sue and Gary Stu.
I also felt that for a book where so much of the obstacles come from Jason’s upbringing, any confrontation with his parents was strangely absent (it’s not even on-screen, just referred to in the epilogue). The author also suggests, but never resolves, that there might be problems with Jason’s fandom and role-model status. Simone’s life is public. I have to think that if a former rodeo world champion hooked up with a fetish model, someone would pick up on this and either make a tabloid story or raise hell about his current work with kids.
If you like a good burning-level story, but you’d rather your characters engaged in physical flogging than the emotional type, congrats, this is your book.