Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Dorian Bane
Length: 6 hours
Two years after saving Tripp Colby’s life following a brutal bashing, Scott Gillard has decided, with the help of friend and therapist Brandi, to face the past and move forward. The first step is a visit to see Tripp and apologize for what happened. But very few know the truth, suspecting that Scott either beat Tripp or had his friends do the dirty work and because those friends are now in jail thanks to Scott’s testimony, Scott looks bad no matter what anyone says.
Tripp accepts Scott’s apology and offers him a job with the gay rodeo. Scott knows is is a bad idea, but Brandi thinks otherwise and the next thing Scott knows, he is accepting Tripp’s offer. Scott has learned much in two years, such as keeping his temper under control, which is good when a group of Cowboys give him a hard time for showing up. Unbeknownst to Scott, he is being observed by Cory Ackerson, who refuses to acknowledge the rumors flying around about the hot new cowboy.
Even though he is warned away from Scott by his brother Toby, Cory gets to know the man behind the rumors and likes what he finds. The attraction is mutual and their relationship begins to grow, but 16 years of conditioning has left Scott jumpy and not only hurts his progress, but also Cory. Following an awkward visit to see Scott’s estranged father, Cory has had enough and walks out on Scott, refusing to be a secret, even for Scott.
Pulling Leather is the third book in the Pickup Men series. I think that it could be read as a standalone novel, but of course reading the first two books would make the various secondary characters and relationships easier to follow.
I have to say that the beginning of Pulling Leather truly engaged me as a reader, and I enjoyed the dichotomy between the Scott people “know” and the Scott that we discover in the course of the story.
The initial attraction that grows into more is a commonly used technique, as is the closeted man attracted to the openly gay one. What I found interesting about this story was the love/hate feelings I had for Scott. I felt for him and then found his fear of discovery irritating, followed by forgiveness due to his remorse, and back to irritation. Under different circumstances this behavior would really bug me, but Chase kept the drama to a minimum, finding a balance to Scott’s internal conflict, and so my personal feelings never polarized.
Now where Scott was up and down, Cory was relatively stable. He knew his own mind, even if his brother Toby kept trying to think for him, and Scott to protect him, but he never let them take over. The fact that Cory refused to believe the gossip about Scott and trust his instincts was refreshing and again, low on the drama scale. Granted, Scott wanting to protect Cory was supposed to be a sweet gesture, but since Cory was so used to his brother’s treatment, the saying “old habits die hard” came to mind and that was Cory’s issue to deal with.
I have said it before and I am saying it again, Dorian Bane is the right man to narrate this series. With an authentic western accent and totally rocking the cowboy vibe, I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing it justice. Now as good as Bane was in that respect, where I found the performance to be a bit lacking was in the voices of the secondary characters. I heard Eric (from Let It Ride) in Cory, which pulled me out of the story for a bit, but overall, the various characters had generic enough sounding voices that I didn’t notice.
Pulling Leather is a very good addition to the series, with some good conflict, very good and realistic character growth, and a superb narrator that kept me interested from beginning to end. Ooh! I almost forgot, I wanted to say that so far, there isn’t a Pickup Men cover I haven’t liked…a lot.