Tag Archives: ranch setting

My favourite so far in this kinky ranch series

Hot Blood coverHot Blood by A.E. Lister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this one is probably my favourite in the series so far and, bizarrely, it’s really only tangible to the whole setting as it involves a photographer visiting the ranch.

However, there is still some ponyplay, he’s attracted to a wilful and contrary ponyboy he meets on his first day and it’s clear there’s a spark of interest from the younger Puck too.

There’s some of the usual great depth of detail given to the whole kink side of the Braided Crop Ranch which is something I’ve always appreciated about this series, but – as with the others – a lot of stuff is also only referenced as throwaway lines, which makes me lose my connection to the characters.

Still, all in all I did very much buy into the relationship development and I liked the mutual to-ing and fro-ing that went on between Puck and Oliver as they found their feet in how they wanted things to progress.

It has some lovely moments of sweetness too, as Puck is struggling with dealing with the after effects of something which has happened to his best friend and Oliver helps provide him with a strong comfort to finally take action.

Interestingly, this one has no mention of any of the other relationships already established at the Ranch, something I felt overtook the narrative in Dark Horse, but I would still have expected both Adam and Kamal to have at least mentioned they had boyfriends!

(NOTE: The author’s note mentions that this takes place before the events in Stable Hand, so no boyfriends for either of them, I somehow seem to have missed this when I requested the ARC originally!)

Overall though this was a very quick and easy read with lots of good parts and I will always enjoy seeing how well A.E. Lister writes the kink element of this series.

#ARC kindly received from the author and publisher via Indigo PR in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Blog Tour: Something Undeniable by Rory Maxwell

Something Undeniable | Rory Maxwell

Split Rock Ranch #1

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Release Date: October 6th, 2022

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Micah Avery has called Split Rock Ranch home for most of his life—it’s one of the few places he can be totally himself without worry or judgment. The ranch, the horses, and the people are Micah’s future, and he couldn’t be happier. The fact that it’s also home to the ranch manager he’s determined to marry one day is icing on the cake . . . all he needs is for Ryan to notice him.

Ryan Astor came to Split Rock Ranch at a time when he was desperate to start over. It was just supposed to be a stop on the road, but instead he found a home and a family—that family includes Micah, the sweet kid who’s been the ranch mascot since before he was tall enough to see over the stall doors. Ryan’s finally found his place, and he can’t imagine wanting anything to change.

Then little Micah Avery grows up. And Ryan’s suddenly confronted with a whole mess of feelings and desires he never expected. Now he needs to decide if he can give in to what they both want without jeopardizing everything they have.

Something Undeniable is a slow-burn, 37k-word novella with an age gap, mutual pining, and plenty of heat. It’s the first book in the Split Rock Ranch series, but can be read as a stand-alone story.

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Micah vs. the water trough

Shocking cold smacked him in the back as he plunged into the trough. Water closed over his head and he threw his arms out, managing to drag himself up enough to suck in a breath. “Fuck,” he gasped, clinging to the metal edge, blinded by the water in his eyes.

A moment later, strong hands wrapped around his biceps and hauled him, sputtering and coughing, back to his feet.

“You okay, kid?” Ryan’s deep voice, caught somewhere between concern and amusement, cut through Micah’s stunned haze. He blinked up at Ryan, trying to clear the water from his clumped lashes.

“Um…” Micah was fine. He was just going to dissolve into a puddle of embarrassment, thank you very much. Ryan’s brow was furrowed in concern. Sexy concern. Crap. “I—fine. I’m fine,” Micah managed to say. He looked down at his soaked clothes and groaned. “Just—wet.” He licked at the water dripping off his upper lip, not that it did much good.

Ryan’s nostrils flared and he looked like he was going to say something scolding. Then Maggie put her booted foot on the still-flapping hose and shut off the water, keeping Rascal away with her free hand. “Micah, how the heck did you manage that?”

Micah shrugged. Or he tried to. Ryan was still gripping his biceps as if he might tumble right back in if given the chance. Maybe that was a safe bet because the heat of Ryan’s hands was soaking into Micah’s skin and making his knees weak. “Don’t know,” he managed to say somewhat evenly. “I think the hose is out to get me.”

“Now that I’d believe.” Maggie shook her head and started hauling it back toward the barn, coiling it neatly as she went.

Ryan finally released him, and Micah immediately missed the warm, steadying touch. A breeze kicked up and he shivered as it sliced right through him. Crap, this was going to suck. Did he have spare clothes up at Maggie’s? It had been a while since he stayed over.

“I probably have something you can wear,” Ryan said, reading Micah’s mind. “Come with me.” He turned to lead the way back to the barn and Micah followed automatically. He had a lot of practice listening when Ryan used that tone.

Walking with his legs encased in heavy, wet denim sucked big time, but it didn’t stop Micah’s eyes from dropping to check out the way Ryan’s jeans hugged his ass as he climbed the stairs. Looking that good in pants should be illegal. At the very least, it should come with a warning label. Caution: Prolonged Eye Contact May Be Bad For Your Mental Health. Not that it would help Micah. He’d never been very good about following rules he didn’t agree with.

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About the Author

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Rory Maxwell discovered romance novels on her mom’s bookshelf when she was probably too young to be reading them—the reward for being a nosy kid with great reading comprehension. The magic of a dial-up internet connection led her to the wonderful world of MM fanfiction a few years later and she fell love with the genre. In 2019 she woke up with a plot bunny, opened a word doc, and started trying to figure out how this writing stuff worked.

Rory grew up outside of Washington, DC, moved away, and then came back for reasons she doesn’t fully understand. An artist and writer, she always has too many exciting ideas and not nearly enough free time. One day, she hopes to escape to the mountains and open an LGBTQIA+ friendly bed and breakfast where she can work from home and write as much as she wants.

In the meantime, she splits her time between her day job and writing MM romance with endearing characters, lots of feels, plenty of heat, and a dash of kink.

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To celebrate the release of Something Undeniable, Rory is giving away a $5 Amazon Gift Card

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An at times frustrating but ultimately enjoyable slow burn

58870391His Reluctant Cowboy by A.M. Arthur

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

While I ended up enjoying this more than I thought I was going to, I found myself incredibly frustrated at times by events in the narrative.

There’s also a couple of inconsistencies which, while they don’t affect the outcomes of the story, do take away slightly from it (involving what occurred to Michael’s mother which I won’t spoiler).

I loved Michael’s dad Elmer, and was happy to see him be more a focus in the narrative having been a secondary character in book one of this series. He’s a grumpy but kind-hearted man and I was very happy he and Michael managed to resolve their decades old falling out.

Josiah frustrated me immensely and I think a lot of that is simply to do with ALL the traumas the man has had to live though. I know the aim was to draw the reader’s sympathy, but instead it just make him seem pathetic a lot of the time.

That’s a harsh criticism to lay down, I know, and I don’t want to make it sound like I’m victim blaming because I’m not, but there were times when a different direction could have been taken in the narrative and it seemed like the most dramatic and trauma-inducing one was chosen each time to try and make him appear more vulnerable but instead it made him weaker as a character.

Still, he does begin to grow in his own confidence and self-worth once he’s at Elmer’s farm, helping him after his stroke, and I eventually did start rooting for he and Michael to move from friendship into a romance.

However, overall this is an incredibly slow burn romance, which makes sense given Josiah’s background (although again, here there was just so much trauma related events that I became a bit numb to them all in the end) with two characters who do work well as a pairing.

But I found the sexual element of the story was another area where I would have liked to have seen more interactions between them once they did turn their relationship physical, especially given that Michael makes himself vulnerable for Josiah and that whole scene is beautifully done. I wanted more of that.

There’s guest appearances from the guys at Woods Ranch and it was great to catch up with Hugo and Brand again and I’m pretty sure that the author is lining up a redemption arc for the Sheriff which I’m in two minds about whether or not I want to read it, as well as possibly a story for fellow ranch hand Jackson.

I really liked the Clean Slate Ranch series, which this is a spin-off from, but so far neither of the two books in the Woods Ranch series have been as strong for me as they were. However, A.M. Arthur is an author I usually enjoy reading and the Clean Slate books got better as the series progresses, so I’m hoping it will be the same here.

There’s a very strong sense of place, which this author is so good at, and the small town vibe is well presented, there’s good secondary characters and overall the last quarter of the book pulled up my enjoyment significantly and I was very happy with where the relationship is left at the end.

Note the trigger warnings for the book, it includes references to off page sexual assault, homelessness, references to a past street life including sexual exchanges in return for accommodation and a toxic relationship on page, plus an on page violent assault.

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Carina Press via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review

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