Review of His Reluctant Cowboy, by A.D. Ellis

I received an Audible code for a review copy of His Reluctant Cowboy, by A.D. Ellis.

Description from Goodreads:

Out-and-proud volunteer dance instructor, Reid Alexander, is a California boy accustomed to living in flashy luxury. He is less than thrilled upon inheriting his late grandfather’s South Dakota horse ranch. Yet, he must endure three months of cowboy hell before he can even consider selling the property. As the ranch foreman, Walker Corrigan’s entire life is Pine Ridge. When Reid arrives with cold-hearted plans to sell, Walker endeavors to endear the place to the younger man. 

Reid is unprepared for the sudden attachment to Walker, the land, and – unbelievably enough – the horses. 

Walker’s long-suffering heart takes an unexpected gallop straight toward Reid. Both men are on-board with exploring their relationship, and Reid discovers ranch ownership is more gratifying than he’d once imagined. But Reid is forced to reconsider his place on the ranch when threats put the property and employees in danger. 

Menacing events call Reid’s integrity into question, and he considers saving everyone the hassle and throwing in the reins. But how can he leave when his heart now feels at home on Pine Ridge Ranch and in Walker’s arms? 

Review:

I’m in an awkward position reviewing this book. I received an Audible credit for it in exchange for an honest review. However, the credit came from the narrator, Brad King, (not the author) and the narrator did an awesome job. But the story didn’t work for me. What do you do in that case? I guess you say just that, huh? King’s narration is very good. Ellis’ story left me cold. 

I disliked Reid in the beginning. But even after he gave up being a brat and became tolerable I was troubled. His growth came in jagged spurts, and nothing about it felt very natural. The romance was sudden and felt very much like the only two adult gay men on the ranch fell in love because they were the only gay men on the ranch. There was no gradual growth or anything like that. And as soon as the two men were together they were suddenly in love, declaring forever, and calling each other Baby. I thought the dirty talk during sex was super cheesy (King deserves some props for pulling that off with aplomb). And I almost went ragey with the way it had to be stressed (more than once) that the love between Walker and Reid was better than the love Walker had with his dead partner. That just was not necessary and was tacky to boot. The villain was practically a joke and the resolution came about because of a very convenient coincidence. Plus, I hate the cover. There I said it. 

All in all, not a winner for me in the story department. But again, great narration. My dislike is for the book.

Review of Monster of the Week (The Rules #2), by F.T. Lukens

Cover of Monster of the Week.

I received an advanced copy of F. T. LukensMonster of the Week through Netgalley. As it happens, I’ve also pre-ordered a paperback copy. But I won’t have that in hand until October.

Description from Goodreads:

Spring semester of Bridger Whitt’s senior year of high school is looking great. He has the perfect boyfriend, a stellar best friend, and an acceptance letter to college. He also has this incredible job as an assistant to Pavel Chudinov, an intermediary tasked with helping cryptids navigate the modern world. His days are filled with kisses, laughs, pixies, and the occasional unicorn. Life is awesome. But as graduation draws near, Bridger’s perfect life begins to unravel. Uncertainties about his future surface, his estranged dad shows up out of nowhere, and, perhaps worst of all, a monster-hunting television show arrives in town to investigate the series of strange events from last fall. The show’s intrepid host will not be deterred, and Bridger finds himself trapped in a game of cat and mouse that could very well put the myth world at risk. Again.

Review (with spoiler):

I generally adore this series. I absolutely loved the first book. I can’t say I loved this second one quite as much, but I did really enjoy it. I’ll start with what I like. There is a lot of love here. Bridger has a wonderfully supportive crew and the theme of Found Family is a wonderful one. The cast of regular characters are quirky and fun and effortlessly diverse. And I really appreciated that Lukens allowed Bridger to cut the toxic family member from his life, rather than force an artificial reconciliation. 

Things I didn’t like as much was the plot dependance on the ambitious, ‘evil professional woman.’ It’s more nuanced than that here, but it’s still a pretty shitty trope that I hate. I thought things got a little didactic at times. And the focus of the book was less on the action and antics of the cryptic, here in Monster of the Week, and more on Bridger’s school life. I preferred the former. 

All in all, I can’t wait for more of Lukens’ work. 

Review of Safe Passage (Black Flag #1), by Rachel Ford

I received an Audible code for a review copy of Safe Passage, by Rachel Ford.

Description from Goodreads:

Go big or go home. For privateer Captain Magdalene Landon, it’s all about going big. For Kay Ellis, it’s about getting home. Together, they’re about to architect the most daring heist in the galaxy. Kay knows too much. She knows it’s a matter of time before a Conglomerate hitman finds her. She’s desperate for safe passage back to Union space. Then Magdalene shows up, promising a way home in exchange for that information. It’s a risky bet, but Kay is out of options. So she strikes a deal: the heist of the century for her freedom.Kay is playing a dangerous game, and she knows it. She’s made herself Enemy Number One of the Conglomerate. She’s relying on privateers for her safety. It’s a fool’s game. But the worst part is, her fool’s heart is starting to warm to the enigmatic captain. And that’s a risk for which she hadn’t planned.

Review:

I can’t say I enjoyed this book much. I didn’t find much that grabbed me. I felt the world wasn’t well developed, the romance was abrupt, the casual use of attempted heterosexual rape as motivation unoriginal (especially in a lesbian romance), and the characters were too Mary Sue like. Here’s an example, they kept people alive when they shouldn’t have. It felt like an artificial mechanism to move the plot along AND that the just author didn’t want them to seem like bad guys, especially considering those same characters end up dead anyway. It seemed inconsistent this insistence on ‘doing the right thing’ when they are basically thieves (and have already killed others).

This tendency to use obvious and inelegant artificial events for plot progression was also present in the romance. The characters got together, then one broke it off for sudden and stupid reasons. Then later apologized so they could get back together just as abruptly. You see it all coming a mile away.

Similarly, all the twists are as obvious as the sun. You know from very early on what is going to happen and when. 

The writing itself is fine, minus a tendency for characters to call Kay by name too often. And the narration too…for the most part. I actually greatly disliked how Rich voiced the characters. But that’s a matter of taste not quality. 

All in all, I think this was just a poorly matched book for me. I went in with high hopes. I love sci-fi romance, but this one wasn’t a winner for me.