Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Landon Gaudet, also known as Nutbutter, is a little Cajun with a huge heart. A horse whisperer, loyal friend and brother, a man of all trades at the rodeo including bull riding, Landon appears to be a happy person. But he is missing one thing….his soulmate, the man with the three blue circles tattoo his dreams have shown him. Landon’s twin sister, Lauren, a well known Cajun healer who lives on their property in the bayou, has seen the man in her prophesies too. But Landon is unprepared for the reality of the man his dreams has shown him, Adam Taggert.
Adam, one of the triplet Taggert brothers, is feeling his age. Over six feet and over thirty, Adam competes with his brother, Chris, in the tag team roping events to accolades and top prizes. Unlike the others in his group of friends, Adam has never settled on one person to love. Instead Adam plays the field, moving from one person to another with all the speed of a bronc out of the gate. His one regret is that he gave up Beau Lafitte, the cajun he lost to bullrider Sam Bell. Unable to commit at the time, Beau has become Adam’s biggest regret.
At a party on Beau and Sam’s farm, Adam meets Landon and sparks fly. And what starts out as a fling on Adam’s side begins to turn serious for both of them. But obstacles, real and imagined, start to pile up and threaten to undo the fledgling relationship and all of Landon’s dreams. With Adam’s family disapproving of Landon and Adam’s low sense of self worth, can Landon and his dream of a life with his soulmate become a reality or will it break down under the weight of too much opposition?
Fais Do Do is a Louisiana country dance party and that’s the perfect title for a book about two completely opposite men dancing around each other, hoping for romance and a forever love. From the opening paragraph, Tortuga plunges the reader into Cajun country and the patois of the bayou. Here the cajun patter flows over the tongues of men such as Beau and Landon with a fluidity born of the bayou with its deep French origins. And its not just the parlance, but the culture as well. From pig roasts to voodoo, from swampy waters, to small nut brown men, the Cajun culture (and Tortuga’s love for it) is embedded deeply throughout this story and the characters involved. Here is a excerpt as Adam meets Landon at the party:
“You met Adam?” Sam Bell asked, leading Landon across the yard, the piles of bullriders and their women just filling the place up. Shit, the ropers and the family hadn’t even made an appearance yet. By midnight, the booze and the music would be flowing, and the whole bayou would ring.
Landon did love it here at Beau and Sam’s farm, more than almost anywhere, and Sister was here, Cotton and his gal Em. Even Adrian and Packer.
“No, sir. I mean, I knowed him good, oui? He rides and rides, but I ain’t never spoke to him, me.”
“Safety man. Like him. You.”
Landon nodded. Sam’s words got better every time they chatted together, and Landon was happy for it. Him and Sister, they prayed and lit candles for the man, spent hours on their knees with Maw-Maw’s rosary beads clicking. Sister’d even sacrificed a chicken for healing, pouring the blood out during the new moon to suck the sickness and hurting from Mr. Bell and into the dirt.
His sister was pure hoodoo, witchy as all get out, but he’d never met a better traiteur, or treater. Magical healer. Didn’t reckon he ever would.
“Adam. Cajun. Landon. Tag.”
Landon looked up, the sun bright as a penny, and the glow surrounded a tall, tall cowboy, making the man shine. Landon caught his breath, the universe spinning.
His dream. Shit fire and save matches. Ever since he’d been a boy, he’d done dreamed of this very second. Right here. Right now. The cowboy would have a light blue shirt on, a belt buckle from a 1999 roping championship. There’d be a tattoo on the inside of the man’s wrist when he went to shake — three blue circles ina row, touching. This was his cowboy. His family. The one meant to be his amant.
His. “Hey, kid.” Kid. Like he was some petit fils. “Comme ça?” “C’est bon.” Oh, the man knew some Cajun, did Adam. Landon held a hand out, and, sure as shit came from a goose’s ass, there was that ink on the man’s wrist, permanent. Three blue circles in a row. One. Two. Three.
This one was his, deep down. In his body cells. “Pleased. You want a beer?”
Adam smiled at him, eye lines wrinkling up like to catch the sunlight. “You legal to drink, boy?”
“Shee-it. I reckon.”
To drink. To fuck. To dance. To catch him the cowboy the bon Dieu offered to him.
He wasn’t no child. Not no more.
Adam looked him up and down, one eyebrow arching. “Well, then. C’mon. We’ll have us a couple three beers before things get crazy. These Cajuns, they’re nuts.”
“We is, us, for sure.” It wasn’t a bad thing, though. It was just a true thing.
You had to be crazy to love it here in the swamps.
Reading that passage you can almost hear the honey slow dialect of a man of the bayou, with hope in his heart for this man and their future. Such a lovely way to start this story, with a dance, some beer, and hope. But as the author also grounds her characters in reality, any path to a commitment and love is going to be a long and complicated one, especially between two men so opposite each other, both on the social register and in outlook.
As with all her Roughstock stories, Tortuga brings in a number of elements to supplement the main romantic storyline. Present are Beau and Sam. Sam who is dealing with a near death accident in the rodeo arena, is still in recovering with his brain injuries. Beau is trying to adjust to a difference in their relationship and Sam. Coke Pharris, renowned bullfighter and his lover, Dillon Walsh, rodeo clown are involved with this group too. All of these men have intermingled past histories, including that of Adam and Beau before he fell in love with Sam. It helps to have read the core books in the Roughstock series because that will give the reader a foundation of knowledge with regard to this ever enlarging group of friends and coworkers.
It also helps to have some knowledge of a rodeo and the various events and jobs that go along with it. Otherwise, a “safety,” the role of a clown or bullfighter, and other sundry terms and positions might fly over the reader’s head. But if you have even a remote idea of the rodeo world, then this series and book will make you want to fly out to the nearest event and climb into the stands for a better looksee at the men and animals that compete on a daily basis. Tortuga has this universe down pat, and through these men, the reader will get an authentic feel for the hardship and passion the ropers and riders have for their sport.
Tag Team – Fais Do Do has a couple of aspects to its story that might make people either uncomfortable or bogged down in the narrative. There is some heartfelt angst that one character in particular will have to endure. And it will be caused by the one person who is capable of inflicting such pain. For some, it will lessen their connection to this character and that would be unfortunate. Because I do feel that this is a pretty realistic if unpleasant viewpoint and might not be as uncommon as some would think in southern (or any) society.
The other is the colloquialisms or vernacular spoken by Beau, Landon, or Laurel Gaudet, “Sister” as she is known. It is pretty thick, just as musical and full of French words and phrases, enough to confound anyone not familiar with the Cajun dialect. Here is Landon and Sister in their home:
Landon looked over at Sister, who was busily stirring the eggs. “Yes, ma’am?”
“You gon’ go be with him forever and leave me here alone, you think?”
His heart said he was in love with Adam, but Landon said what he knew to be true. “Sister, I ain’t never onced left you. Never once for always. I will take care of you ‘til the Rapture.”
They were twins. He wasn’t about to leave her with no way to take care of herself, and he needed to see her face. Half of him was missing when she wasn’t there.
Her dark eyes looked relieved, and she found a smile for him. “You think your man will like me?”
“Why wouldn’t he? You’re…” He searched for the right word, but fuck if he didn’t know one. “Laurel.”
She laughed, whacking him with one hand. “Uh-huh. Tell me about him.”
“Oh, lady, he’s fine. Tall and strong with these eyes like chips of rock and he can ride…” He sighed, seeing his cowboy up in the saddle, moving like Adam was one with the horse, like the wind itself.
“I knew he had to love horses.” She grinned, eyes dancing.
“He’s a cowboy. A real cowboy, not just a bullrider.” “Oh, Bubba. You have it so bad.” He put down the tack he’d been repairing for Albert and
looked over, serious as a heart attack. “He’s it, Adam. For me. I been dreaming on him my whole life. I ain’t sure I’mhis one. I fear that was Mr. Beau.” Laurel shook her head, dark hair all wild and loose. “Mr.
Beau was made to comfort Sammy in the black times, Bubba. I know that.”
Landon shrugged. “Sure. I know that, but we don’t know God, not for true. I think maybe he has a mean streak, giving people to the wrong folks. Mr. Beau is a good man, a Cajun.”
“Maybe your man, he just is a little stupid, eh? Maybe he got him some Cajuns crossed.” Laurel put her spoon down, came to him with open arms, hugging on him hard. “God ain’t mean, not a bit. The Devil, he’s a trickster and a liar and he fools folks, but God loves him us. I know that.”
“I want to believe that, Sister.” He rested his head on her, eyes closing.
“Then quit fighting it and do so.” She patted his back, her hands warm, and he could see why people came to her for the healing. Her touch felt soothing, and her voice held the surety of an angel who’d seen God’s face.
“Yessir, and thank God for it. Someone got to keep you boys whole.”
“Mmm.” He hugged her tight, absorbing some of her strength. “We need to get back to cookin’.”
“Yep. Need to make a soft cake for Auntie down the road. We got to pray over her bad tooth. I think it’ll take the both of us.”
He wrinkled his nose. Tooth stuff was always smelly. Still, he always helped when he could. “All right.”
“You’re a good man, Bubba.”
“You think so? I ain’t… You know I ain’t as book learned as all them boys I ride with.”
“Pshaw.” She put a hand over his heart. “You got all you need right here.”
“I sure hope so, Sister. I surely do.”
I love the way it sounds and is used to bring these marvelous characters to life. But I also recognize that some readers will have trouble with the dialog, making it a barrier to the personalities instead of a path to who they are as individuals and as a rich culture grounded in geography and history.
My only real quibble is that I felt the resolution of the issues (huge ones) between Landon and Adam came about too easily considering the events that tore them apart. At 185 pages, the author had plenty of time (and length) to extend the reconciliation out to a reasonable amount of time. But that is it for quibbles, mostly. There are some editing issues, with the wrong name used in a sentence when they are clearly talking about another character. But overlooking those, this is a terrific story as is the series. Consider this highly recommended.
Cover illustration by A. Squires is perfect for the story and series. Great job.