The Word Nerd Reviews
Strike a Pose (Model World) ~ Jackie North
Updated: Oct 22, 2022
"He could look all he liked, bay at the moon, and slink home after, with no one the wiser, not even his own heart."
Strike a Pose is Jackie North’s contribution to the Model Love multi-author series. I was so excited to return to the Farthingdale Ranch, I'd really missed those guys, and I can honestly say I was not disappointed!
Make a wish on a shooting star. Cry to the moon like the coyotes do.
There are so many things Sid cannot have, so many things he tells himself he does not need. His job at Farthingdale Ranch is good enough, right? Then along comes Heston, a glamorous and gorgeous top-tier model from New York City who makes Sid want and then want some more.
Heston has come to Wyoming to do a pre-fall photo shoot in the middle of July. It’s hot as hell, his skin is drying up, his hair is breaking off, and he’s got a hangnail. Then along comes Sid, lanky and sweet, and Heston begins to think there’s more to life than modeling.
No one will be surprised if I state that I'm a huge Jackie North fan, and this book has gone into my Top 3 of her books (so far, anyway!). Strike a Pose appealed to me on many levels: the storytelling was engaging, the characters enchanting, and the writing style tied together the relaxing vibe of the Ranch with the city's frenetic activity.
Jackie North always has a captivating writing style that engages the reader, and Strike a Pose was no exception. Although the story was written in an (as always) easy-to-read style, the writing had a hazy, lyrical feel to it. While this mood was felt throughout the story, the pacing ensured that it took on a different quality depending on the story's setting.
"In his mind, a picture formed. He could imagine it quite clearly. He and Sid, dressed in cowboy hats and broken-in blue jeans, standing on a hillside as clouds sifted over the mountains, bringing rain like a blessing to patter down upon the sun-baked earth, cool air breaking through the heat, bringing a delicious shiver. In New York, the rain smelled like the subway, Diesel engine oil, crease, and dried pigeon poo turning to mush in the rain."
On the Ranch and while Sid, Heston, and the model crew were 'camping', the feeling was relaxed and almost languorous in parts. Yet, in the city, this lyrical writing style, coupled with the faster pacing suiting the city environment, seemed to add to the stress, of not fitting in, that Sid was experiencing. It was as if the frenetic pace of the city, and Sid's discomfort in what he was doing, were at odds with what he was craving: the peaceful and almost somnolent vibe of the Ranch. The result was an almost dreamlike quality to the writing in both settings, giving consistency to the flow but leaving the reader no doubt in which location they were currently immersed.
"All of Wyoming seems like it's in motion all of the time, but my little corner of it, Farthingdale Ranch, is an oasis of calm and peace. You can heal there, and I'll watch over you while you do it."
I am in awe of Jackie North's ability to describe the various landscapes in her stories. In Strike a Pose, there was the added difficulty of two environments opposite to each other, big city and country. Regardless, the descriptions allow the reader to feel the sun on their face and the grass beneath their feet, hear the chuff of the horses, feel the fountain's spray, and experience the rush of people and cars. It takes skill to create imagery that fully immerses the reader into the story's setting, without weighing the narrative down in excessive detail and minutiae. It's a fine line, but Jackie North is always on the right side.
"It's quiet there and in the summer the wind blows the sweet scent of pine off the mountains ... we don't have loons, but we have owls that hoot in the night, and coyotes who cry at the moon when it's full ... that wind blows across the surface of the water on the river, and the grasses shift beneath that same wind, which is never still."
"As the SUV went up and down the sloping hills that were shadowed by long strands of inky black as the sun went behind the mountains, Heston rolled down the window to look at the colors in the sky, an amazing parade of streaked purple clouds, edges of orange fluff sliding into pink and then deeper pink. ... Sure, Wyoming was a dry, dusty, windy place, but this particular sunset was beautiful."
As far as characters go, I loved both Sid and Heston from the beginning. Although I do admit that Heston was my favourite. Both were beautiful souls and fitted in so well with the others on the Ranch. This author always creates characters that stay with you long after you've finished the book, and it was so easy to want to see Heston and Sid get their happy ending. It was also wonderful seeing all the cameos of the boys we've come to know and love on the Ranch.
Drawing a slow breath, Sid straightened up and looked at Heston, at his beautiful face in the growing twilight, at his green eyes sparkling as though the stars were already bright in the sky and reflecting off them.
"That you would want to stay."
If you haven't read Jackie's Farthingdale Ranch series (or any of her other books), Strike a Pose is an excellent place to start. It's not essential to have any in-depth background information on all the events on the Ranch that happened before this story. If you do, you'll enjoy the cameos and have a deeper understanding and appreciation, but not knowing takes nothing from the enjoyment of this book.
"You're the most beautiful man I've ever seen. Sid gasped. As beautiful as a Wyoming sunset."
Strike a Pose is a beautiful story that will tug on the heartstrings but ultimately leave you smiling like a goof and with a warm fuzzy feeling.
"Maddy was watching them, and he looked at her, his eyes a little blurry and damp, and she nodded and smiled as if to say, Yes, that's how it is around here. You're going to be loved this way forever."
If you enjoy a well-written duck out of water type story with characters that you may instantly fall in love with, then I suggest you run, don't walk to grab a copy!
Strike a Pose is available as an ebook from Amazon US ǀ AUS ǀ UK