Rating: 3.75 stars
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Marty Fairgraves is known as the gay pickup man in the California rodeo circuit. Marty has been out of the closet pretty much his entire life, so he doesn’t understand how the man that he loves lives his life on the opposite side of the closet door. The last straw comes when Marty is injured saving Tripp, but Tripp is too afraid to acknowledge him by asking if Marty is okay as he’s wheeled into an ambulance and taken to the hospital. From that point on, Marty is done with Tripp. He can’t live his life being the bull rider’s dirty secret.
Tripp Colby is haunted by his past, afraid to step one toe out of his dark and depressing closet. When Marty pushes him away and seemingly moves on with his own life, Tripp is hurt and confused. And he vows to do anything to get Marty back, even maybe…eventually, coming out of the closet. But it’s not as easy as it seems. His fears, his father, his sponsors, and the homophobic rodeo circuit he’s a part of hold him back from moving on with his life with Marty.
When Tripp finally comes clean about his past and his fears, Marty doesn’t immediately take him back. Instead Marty sends Tripp on a mission to confront his past and discover the man he is and could be. But that journey, as freeing as it may be, comes with a dark side that may end things between Tripp and Marty before they even get back together.
Before I get started on the story, can we talk about this cover? Good Lord, it’s beautiful. L.C. Chase is a definite double threat – a more-than-talented storyteller and an amazing cover artist. This cover is what drew me to the book in the first place. The depiction of Marty (I know only because of the eye color) is gorgeous. Yep, one of my favorite covers.
I love cowboys. I’m from the south; it’s almost a requirement. Maybe it’s the jeans. Maybe it’s the swagger. It’s definitely the boots and the hat. Who knows what immediately attracts us to the beautiful men on horseback (or bull in this case)? What I do know is that sexy just barely begins to describe them.
In Pickup Men, L.C. Chase takes readers into the world of the rodeo, into the lives of two men on different sides of the social spectrum, and gives them a story that is sad and sweet at the same time. I really liked this story. Chase has a way with words. The writing is good and I was glued to the book from beginning to end. I had just a couple issues with the story itself, but we’ll get to that in a minute. But it’s a good story – short, sweet, and easy to read.
The best part of this story is the character’s struggles – internally and as a couple. I think what I like most about Marty and Tripp is that neither of them is always right. They both make mistakes that cause major problems in their relationship, but they always end up working on it together. Marty, for the most part, is understanding. He is stubborn when it comes to the closet issue, but I’m pretty sure he learns his lesson. Tripp is our broken hero. He has deep set issues to work on and is only able to do that with Marty’s support. They are both strong, stubborn men, but I think that makes them so likable.
So my issues with this story didn’t really happen till near the end of the book. First, the villain. It’s obvious throughout the book who the jerk of this story is, but the reason that the author gave for him to be the way he is feels a little repetitive inside this story. I mean, come on, what are the odds? Second, Tripp faces his past and suddenly he’s healed. There was no period of healing. There was an awkward moment for him, but suddenly he’s ready to turn his life upside down without the fear of consequences that he lived with all his life. It was hard to believe. Also the ending itself feels kind of rushed. I think I would have liked the final chapters better had the story been longer there. The emotion and the angst from the rest story were kind of thrown by the wayside to get to the end and it was a little disappointing.
What I can say is that despite the quibbles, I did like Pickup Men. I loved the characters. You will pretty much always find that I love the cowboys…be it inside the rodeo or on a ranch. And I’m crossing my fingers that Eric and Bridge get a story. I liked the story for the most part, especially the relationship buiding. Not everything in the story is realistic and the ending is rushed, but overall it’s good …and it has cowboys.