This one was an automatic pick-up because I have come to really love this series and if that weren’t the case, just the fact that I knew it had to do with horses was a big draw.
Each book typically has a different author and there is only a loose connection to other books in the series along with the fact that the backdrop is Tucker Springs. Books can be read as a stand alone. I can trust that each set of heroes will have some sort of personal flaw that they need to overcome, but that’s about all I know. It gives me a feeling of anticipation to see who and what is coming next. In this case it was Nathan who worked for one of the characters in book one and who is friends with characters in books four and five and a stranger to town, Ryan.
The story opens with Nathan leaving his place of work with Mike the acupuncturist and heading out to the stables to ride his new prize mare, Tsarina. He plans to complete her training so that she can compete in Dressage. Today, he just wants to enjoy a nice ride. All that is blasted to bits when a motorcycle crosses the bridle path, spooks Tsarina and he takes a nasty fall with Tsarina landing on him and snapping his leg. Nathan reacts to the motorbike rider’s offer of help by punching him in the face out of anger thus breaking his hand.
At the hospital, Nathan is a pitiful case, but he is no longer angry at the bike rider so accepts his apologies and takes his number when he offers to help with anything. He isn’t thinking that far and just wants his couch and a pain pill.
At home, his temporary roommate who is going through relationship difficulties offers to help, but Nathan isn’t big on relying on others. He realizes that he can’t keep saying no to help so he contacts Ryan to take him up on the offer to exercise Tsarina and teach Ryan to ride and later he has to accept help from Owen to get down the stairs in his apartment building. Work is a painful nightmare, but then he meets up with Ryan to head out to the stables.
Ryan is a natural in the saddle and Nathan is attracted. Then they go out for dinner and hit it off. Nathan is still hurting and still helpless with his body healing in two casts, but he always has time with the attractive Ryan to look forward at the end of the day. Nathan is gun-shy of relationships because he’s been burned twice, but then again, nothing is going to happen with Ryan because Ryan is a drifter and only plans to stay a few months. He tells himself that nothing’s going to happen because he won’t let it, right?
I started out with high interest and my interest did stick around a little, but it sort of mellowed as they were moving through the stages of friendship, dating and then lovers. The crisis when it came left me bewildered somewhat. I think I got lulled in by the fact that everything was working out and the issue just came out of no where for me. And then there was some deep emotional time for Nathan, but I wasn’t that engaged and felt like a bystander just waiting for him to wise up. I didn’t connect with this story. I do enjoy a friends to lovers romance and they certainly gave realistic time for a relationship to build. I have come to the conclusion that it was Nathan himself with whom I didn’t connect.
Nathan is the narrator in first person so the reader is in Nathan’s head. I liked Ryan better and I do wish that the narrative would have given both points of view. Less Nathan would have been a relief. He was a bit self-centered (not that we all aren’t). He constantly worried about himself and not once did he think of Ryan or his needs. Ryan was the opposite and he seemed to constantly look out for Nathan. Truthfully, other than companionship when being alone in a strange town I didn’t get what Ryan saw in Nathan. Not that I disliked Nathan, I just wasn’t into his character either. To be far, that self-centeredness did end up being the flaw that Nathan grew beyond in the end.
But regardless, these two guys did get together. In spite of two casts, Ryan and Nathan figured out how they could be together and I’m with Nathan- the image of a sexy tattoed, muscled Ryan riding a horse in the summer sun in his tight t-shirt drenched in sweat gave me some pretty pleasant thoughts too.
All in all, it was a likable story and I look forward to more from the series. Those who enjoy M/M Contemporary Romance where the focus is on the character development and romantic relationships should give this series a try.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book.