shutter speedRating: 2.75 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story

D.E. Garret, aka Dudley Do-right, is a bullrider just trying to get through the evening events in Nashville when a smartass photographer blinds him with his flash. Instead of an apology, Garret gets a bunch of insults from the man. The lack of manners on top of a bad night enrages Garret and their next meeting includes a fight outside the arena doors.

Kelly Daniels, independant photographer hired by the event coordinators to take photos of the rodeo cowboys, hates taking jobs that involve sports. A past traumatic experience has taught him that mixing his smart mouth with dumb athletes is never a good combination. But Kelly needs the rent money and takes the job. Almost immediately Kelly has a confrontation with one of the bull riders and ends up with a punch to the gut.

But first impressions aren’t always the most lasting ones. Can an apology overcome a bad first start and let the men stop fighting long enough to act on the attraction between them?

I love B.A. Tortuga and find that she writes some of the best regional voices and colloquial dialog in the business. And when it comes to her cowboys, especially the rodeo cowboys, well to borrow a saying, it always comes out “fine as frog hair” and just as memorable. Shutter Speed is the seventh story in the Roughstock series, although not considered one of the “core” stories.

While I liked the story, it suffers from a number of elements that keep it from being a story I loved and would recommend. The first is the location, a nondescript arena somewhere in Nashville. Totally lacking in local flavor or any regionality, that blandness continues through to the event and the characters. I was confused as to exactly what event was taking place. Was it a rodeo? A charity event? A dance contest was mentioned, but with no specific function title or description of events, I was left wondering why there is a gathering of cowboys to begin with. Normally, when bull riders and rodeos show up in a Tortuga story, you are almost guaranteed to feel the sawdust on your skin and the smell of manure in the air from her vivid descriptions alone. Unfortunately that aspect is missing here and the story suffers from its loss.

The dialog too is lacking any individuality, another surprising fact. Too often I was confused as to who exactly was speaking which line. Was it Garret or Kelly? I should have been able to tell the difference in the flow of their words and the choice of language but that didn’t happen, leaving me to go back and forth to determine which character was speaking at the time.

Although not great, her characterizations are layered enough to warrant sympathy for Kelly and Garret. Each has enough complaints about the other’s actions and words to make the reader understand the source of their enmity. However, to go directly to a fight seems extreme given the circumstances. I wish that the story had been longer than its 29 pages. Perhaps more pages would have given the author time to set up the characters better and give the readers a more complete ending than the abrupt one that was given.

I love so many of the Roughstock stories and consider the core characters to be favorites of mine. So if you are new to the series, don’t start here. Go to the beginning with the Season One stories and continue on from there. Sink into some of the best rodeo stories that will leave the reader feeling that they have had an intimate visit on the rodeo circuit with unforgettable men and the lifestyle they love. Those are the stories and people that will stay with you and give this one a pass.

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