Author: Lyla Sage

Published: 2024

Mood: If you’ve been feeling way too much negativity in the world around you and need a gentle read that will make you laugh and blush and maybe shed a tear or two and that’s it.


I spotted Swift and Saddled on a book store display, and I was immediately drawn in by the cover. A tattooed chick on a ranch, getting hit on by a cowboy? As a tattooed sometimes-cowgirl myself, I was instantly intrigued.


I had some initial angst when I got it home and realized it’s the SECOND book in a series, and I haven’t read the first. But then I became so completely consumed with work stress that I completely forgot about my stubborn refusal to read a series out of order, and also forgot the reason I hadn’t yet started this book. So I stuck it in my purse for a short trip to Vancouver.


Swift and Saddled did not disappoint as vacation reading. I eagerly consumed more than half of it at the airport and on the plane – and the flight is only an hour long. This book is quick, easy reading with likeable characters, realistic dialogue, and plenty of chest-heaving tension.


If your dream guy is a soft spoken cowboy and you’re looking for a new favourite chick lit author and mini-series, this could be your perfect match.


photo of Swift and Saddled paperback, against copper-stained deck slats


Swift and Saddled is about Ada Hart (perfect name for a heroine), a fiercely independent interior designer from San Francisco who is trying to grow her business. She gets a contract job in Wyoming that could change her life, renovating a house on a huge ranch.


When she arrives in town she has a brief, sexually charged encounter at a bar with an extremely attractive cowboy. He respects her space and leaves her alone to work. She can’t resist such respect for her boundaries, and ends up chasing him down a hall to make out.


This is super out of character for her, and she’s immediately embarrassed and filled with regret – but not nearly as bad as when she finds out that Weston Ryder (perfect name for a hero) and he’s her employer.


The plot follows a familiar and comfortable arc: girl resists boy, boy can’t stop thinking about girl, girl slowly lets her walls down, and they have lots of steamy sexy times. But author Lyla Sage gives you something fresh enough to keep those pages turning, by sprinkling the story with unexpectedly authentic character traits and situations.


For starters, they talk just like people you’d know in your life, and feel more like friends than characters on a page. Ada’s ex-husband was cold and controlling, and left her with emotional damage and body image issues that aren’t simply fixed by meeting a new man or being in the country. Weston is the quietest, most people-pleasing member of his family, and experiences depression. Their baggage is the biggest obstacle keeping them apart, which is quite the authentic modern dilemma.


Well, that and the fact that Ada is only there to renovate the house. But like saddling up your most trusted horse, the one who knows where to go and what to do without being asked, you’re never really worried about how things will end.


illustration of a moustache that is curled at the ends


I’m no expert in the broader romance genre, which I explained when I reviewed the only other neo-Western romance I’ve ever read: The Reluctant Cowboy. (I’m not counting Marilee, because that book is offensive to the word ‘horseshit’.)


BUT what I lack in romantic inclinations, I more than make up for with my highly diverse reading tastes. Aside from the obvious Westerns, I regularly read fantasy, YA, chick lit, graphic novels, humorous fiction, horror, certain niche mysteries, the occasional Sci-Fi, and certain areas of non-fiction.


I enjoyed Swift and Saddled so much that I immediately looked up the author’s other books. I would 100% read these as palate cleansers between heavier reading, or on the beach, or on my deck overlooking the field on a sunny day.


Sure, there were times where I was like, “this man is a bit obviously written by a woman” because Weston strayed into speaking and behaving more like the modern Millennial gal’s ideal guy than any cowboy (or other type of boy) I’ve ever met. Like he was too perfect – but that’s what you want in a romantic lead.


Plus, who am I to say there isn’t an extremely woke thirtysomething cowboy out there who is shy, respectful, cooks and cleans and nurses calves and fixes fence, gets advice from his friends on little ways to show a woman he’s thinking about her so she can work through her feelings, and asks for consent every step of the way, even after they’ve had sex because he understands that saying yes once doesn’t mean it applies to anything else?


All in all, Swift and Saddled made me want to add a little more romance into my reading. Looking forward to more of Sage’s books.