Paxton Lawson and his sons relocated to Prentiss, Texas following the death of his husband to enter into a horse breeding partnership with the Ralston brothers. Gibson had been a friend of Paxton’s sons in college and a new start in a new place seemed like a way to ease Paxton’s grief. Paxton still misses his husband and the grief he feels has put his life outside the business on hold. The one person he has come to count on in his new town is lawyer Windsor Broadhurst. Windsor is a lawyer to most of the ranchers in the area and a close friend to Gibson and his sons so it only seems natural to Paxton that Windsor would be there when Paxton needed him, bringing him books that they read together and discuss, turning into one of his closest friends within the year. But when Windsor admits to Paxton what the entire community already knew, that Winston has been courting Paxton, he is shocked. All this time, Paxton had been oblivious to Windsor’s true intentions but now that Paxton is finally aware, he looks at the handsome lawyer in an entirely different manner.
Windsor Broadhurst has been biding his time, getting to know Paxton as a friend first before letting the man know how attracted he is to him. During the year’s time, Paxton has turned not only into a wonderful friend but Win quickly realizes that his initial attraction is deepening into love. Finally, Windsor admits that he has been courting Paxton all along. Paxton seems receptive to dating again. But Win wants more from Paxton, he wants his love as well. Paxton must decide if he is ready to move on and accept the love offered or remain in mourning. It looks to be a long, hard ride to a future that both men want and that one is afraid to reach for.
Long Hard Ride is the second in the Prentiss series from Talia Carmichael and I just loved it. It is relatively short at 87 pages but the author packs a lot of characterization and emotion into this story given the length. Right off the bat I was hooked by the older characters. Paxton especially captured my heart. He is trying to deal with the loss of his husband after a long-term illness and not doing a very good job of it. He and Adam had adopted and raised three boys who have now grown into men. But those men still love and depend on their father and are dealing with the death of their “Dad” as well. So it is highly realistic that Paxton has buried himself in the new horse breeding venture along with his sons and relocated to another part of the country, away from places that hold nothing but memories of Adam and their life together. Paxton is someone who grabs not only our sympathy but our understanding at his inability to help himself move forward. It also feels right that when Paxton decides that he will date Win but only allow himself to give “just this much and no more.” Paxton also feels guilty about betraying the love he had with Adam, a very genuine reaction to feeling alive and attracted to someone else for the first time since a partner’s death.
Equally great at capturing our attention and interest are the characters of Windsor “Win” Broadhurst, Gibson, Blayne, Morgan, HC, and all the rest of the populace of Prentiss, Texas. Some of the people are coupled already, which happened back in Ralston’s Way (Prentiss #1). But Carmichael is laying the ground for future stories with the characters she introduces here and I for one can’t wait to see how their courtships play out. Paxton and Win courtship starts out so easily, too easily in fact, that I thought the realistic touches she had brought to the story were going to be lost. Luckily that didn’t happen as Paxton must decide to really open himself back up to another person, and the author lets us feel how hard it is for Paxton to let go.
The sex scenes between the men did “creak” a little, but I found that to be actually endearing as Paxton had let his sexual side die with his partner. And Win with his long hair plaited into a braid that fell to his butt? Well, let just say I love a man with long hair and Win hit my buttons. Loved him. So I am running off to get Ralston’s Way and start from the beginning. I can’t wait to see where Carmichael takes this series next. Cowboys and men with long hair. *waves fan* Please don’t keep me waiting too long.