Until a few years ago, I never really read romance. I mostly read young adult books, as I used to be a YA and kids librarian. I particularly loved (and love) YA books that dealt with mental health, neurodiversity, and characters who were true to life. When I started reading romance, that was something I really looked for as well, because I think representing our world the way that it actually is is beneficial for everyone.
Enter Kari Lynn Dell. Now, I’ve never considered myself a fan of cowboys. I grew up in Mississippi, and well…I’m not a fan. But Kari’s editor told me to give her books a shot—not only do they have incredible writing, she said, but they have a truly authentic voice and characters from an author who has lived this life.
I fell in love with Kari’s writing and books almost immediately, and quickly devoured books 1 and 2 in her Texas Rodeo series, Reckless in Texas and Tangled in Texas, but I was really excited to read Tougher in Texas. In this book, rodeo producer Cole Jacobs is stubborn, tough, sometimes difficult to understand; he is also neurodiverse—he has Asperger’s. Then there’s Shawnee, the bold, brave, plus-sized opposite of Cole.
They don’t seem like the perfect couple on paper, but burn that paper because Cole and Shawnee are perfect for each other. They bicker and rub each other the wrong way but their banter is delicious, they center each other, and I swooned the entire time. Cole helps ground Shawnee, while she helps him loosen up a little. Like all of Kari’s characters, they’re real, authentic, and incredible.
Kari made me a fan for life after Tougher in Texas. I will read anything she writes. She even got me to go to a rodeo last month! If like me, you like reading about realistic characters that you wish you knew IRL, authentic world-building, and the most incredible banter, give this HEA a shot.