Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Bully, bigot, and all around asshole, Scott Gilliard was thrown for a loop when his friend came out of the closet, even more so because he was afraid that because of his association with Tripp, everyone would figure out his secret. And he can’t have that. But when he heard from two of his supposed his friends that they beat Tripp nearly to death, relief didn’t come. Instead, Scott panicked for his friend, left to find him stranded, battered, and broken, and drove him to the hospital. When he was arrested on the suspicion of assault and battery, Scott told the truth, even though it alienated him from the entire bull riding circuit.
Two years later, Scott drives to Tripp and his partner Marty’s ranch. And after a tense apology in which Scott doesn’t exactly give all the details, but enough to show his sincerity, Tripp asks Scott to come work with him on the gay rodeo circuit teaching bull riding. Afraid to face the circuit again, but not seeing a better alternative, Scott agrees. Scott knew he’d have to face his demons sooner or later, but he never knew what to expect. Easy forgiveness from Tripp was unexpected, but the rest of the gay circuit is not so forgiving. Not until he meets Cory, but no matter what he feels for the pickup man, Scott still isn’t out and not sure how to be.
Out and proud Cory Ackerman is intrigued by Scott’s arrival at camp and when everyone either ignores him or bullies him, Cory befriends him. With an overbearing older brother glaring at his back the entire time, Cory does his best to lure Scott out of his shell. But regardless of his attraction to the big bull rider, Cory doesn’t know how to live in the closet and doesn’t intend on learning.
Scott’s fear of Cory’s blatant display of his sexuality almost costs him the chance of a relationship, but learning to live a happy open life is harder for Scott, who has always thought being gay was dirty and something to be ashamed of. On the verge of losing the love he never knew he could have, Scott has to face himself and his past in order to be the many worthy of Cory.
Ohmigod! The asshole has been redeemed. I didn’t think it could happen. If you’ve Chase’s Pickup Men series, you’ll remember Scott Gilliard from book one. He was the dick that the author led us to believe beat the crap out of Tripp and left him for dead. Yeah. That guy. So imagine my surprise when he turns out to be Tripp’s freakin’ savior. Who’d ‘a thunk? I was shocked and pleased. This story is all about Scott’s redemption and growth, and not just his screwed up view of homosexuality and how it should be compared to how it is. The guy has issues, but rest assured, Chase covers and resolves them all.
I’ll be honest, I had a little bit of a tough time getting to know Scott, but I think it was mostly because I didn’t want to. I was there for books one and two. I saw the pain—physically (I thought) and mentally (for sure)—he caused. An asshole is an asshole is an asshole. So where Scott had to prove himself to the supporting cast in this story, he also had to prove himself to me. And here’s something I learned about him and also something I really liked: Scott Gilliard is human. He fucks up. A lot. He sticks his foot in his mouth. He loses his temper. He walks away when he should stay and fight. But he learns from his mistakes. He knows how to say “I’m sorry.” He knows how to atone for his perceived sins. He knows how to take a hit and shake it off. He’s in the slow process of learning how to listen, even when it’s something he doesn’t want to hear. He’s not perfect. And that’s pretty perfect.
Cory is the sunlight in this story. For all of Scott’s confusion and frustration and impatience, Cory counters everything the bull rider tosses out with patience, understanding, and levity. He’s bright and fun. And the fact that he’s a cowboy in guy-liner and lip gloss, it’s beyond hot. He’s bubbly where Scott is grim. He’s positive where Scott is negative. He pushes when Scott pulls. He’s the other half to Scott, even if takes Scott way too long to figure it out. I love their vast contrast and perfect balance. Once they’re on the same page, Scott and Cory are pretty much unstoppable.
I love a cowboy romance as much as the next girl, but damn, LC Chase knows how to write them. The ups and down, the back and forth—there were times I didn’t know if these guys would ever find the light at the end of the tunnel, but lo and behold, Chase does it again. And this time adding in a family dynamic that is heartbreaking. Scott really has been through the ringer, and this author does a wonderful job stringing readers along with tidbits of information here and there, just enough to keep interest until she’s ready to make the big reveal. And it is a good one.
I loved this book. Redemption of a villain doesn’t happen near enough, and to end up in a light so brilliant really sets this story apart. I can only hope there will be more to come in this series. I highly recommend Pulling Leather by LC Chase.
Cover: And again with the cover. Geez. This author/cover artist knows what the heck she’s doing. The entire series of covers are beautiful and continue to get better. This one is my favorite so far. Wonder what she’ll have next.