Red Dirt Heart 2 is the second book in a series and is likely best enjoyed when read in order. Sometimes, when I buy books, I get overwhelmed with all my selections, and that’s what happened to Red Dirt Heart. This whole series has languished on my iPad for more than a year. So, I dusted it off for TBR Pile Week of Challenge Month. I personally adored the first book (while it might not please others) and couldn’t stop when that book ended.
Charlie Sutton is a 27-year-old Australian man who inherited an enormous cattle ranch, over a million acres called Sutton Station, from his father just over three years ago. Charlie was a closeted gay man, fully expecting to live a celibate life, because really, what are the odds that a sexy gay man would turn up at his isolated home three hours drive from the nearest town? Well, six months ago, sexy, young, out, gay, and single Texan Travis Craig came to Sutton Station, and he found Charlie so attractive that he couldn’t help chasing after him. And, filing for an extended visa so he could continue living with Charlie—even if it is undercover.
Charlie didn’t “come out” with Travis. He was inadvertently outed to his ranch hands during a rough patch. That said, Charlie’s still not very comfortable with displaying any affection to Travis in the presence of others, excepting Ma, beloved cook and second mother to Charlie. Charlie feels bad about forcing Travis back in to the closet. He’s also afraid to love Travis too much and risk all of his heart; he expects Travis will get tired of the isolation and Charlie’s moodiness and leave—just like Charlie’s mother did when he was a small boy.
Charlie’s inability to discuss his fears leads to his self-isolation and damages his relationship with Travis. Enough so that Travis is getting the vibe that he ought to leave. Soon, however, that decision isn’t up to Charlie or Travis. Nope. The Australian government has begun proceedings against Travis, stating that his visa paperwork was misfiled and he has mere weeks before he must leave the nation. It’s a cruel twist, for both Travis and Charlie; that they may patch everything up and yet still become separated.
The second book is far different from the first in that it’s addressing the struggle of maintaining a relationship. First love and deep attraction are easy and fun and have issues that are quickly resolved. Continuing love stories are often dominated by doubt, struggle, and grand gestures to reassure one or both partners. That’s the case here, for sure.
Charlie has a lot of amends to Travis for his aloofness, but he does this well. Their struggle with the Immigration Board is not a quick fix, however. It’s not simply something Charlie can apologize away. He’s unwilling to lose the man he loves without some serious fight, though. If it means caring for an abandoned joey, or facing down bigots on the Cattleman’s Association Board, than that’ll be part and parcel of Charlie’s battle to keep Travis. I honestly can’t describe how touching I found the climax of this book. Seriously, both Charlie and I were sobbing.
That said, there is such a sweet bit of humor here, and Travis is a man I’d love to know. Charlie’s personality, unfortunately, is too much like my own for me to expect we’d be friends. The ending is tender and fun, with the right balance of love and humor. I can’t wait to get back into the series—as soon as my schedule allows. In the next few weeks, mind. Not waiting another year to visit my friends at Sutton Station!!
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for TBR Pile Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of this week’s fabulous prizes from NineStar Press. One lucky winner will receive a copy of all the NineStar Press releases for six months in ebook, and another will win a collection of seven print books. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on TBR Pile Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!