Ashley and Tucker have been best friends for years. They both want more, but with the exception of a drunken night in Tijuana, they have kept it to themselves. For their vacation this year, they decide to take a 300 mile hike from San Diego to Big Bear Lake. Rather than take the common trail, they are going to go the less traveled route. So, Ash and Tuck, along with their dogs Cho and Hannah, set out on what’s surely to be the trip of a lifetime. Along the road, they discover their true feelings for each other and begin to explore their relationship. Everything is wonderful…until they realize the local wildlife (and the dogs) are acting a little off.
I am an unabashed John Inman fan. He makes me laugh. He makes me think. He makes me swoon, and here in The Hike, he gave me all three of these. He also terrified me. This book is a combination of my two favorite genres, MM romance and horror. Ash and Tuck fell in love so sweetly, but the mountains and deserts hold some ominous secrets, and there is a big one here.
Let me start with Ash and Tuck. They’re adorable. Neither man is an outdoorsman by any means, but they’ve committed to this trip. They’ve spent a small fortune on equipment and food and are willing to dive head first into a situation even the most experienced hikers won’t attempt. I had to admire them for that. I like a tent and a campfire as much as the next person, but I need an air mattress, a shower facility, and a place to charge my cell phone. They had incredible banter between the two of them. As I said, Inman makes me laugh, and Ash and Tuck didn’t disappoint. Here’s a favorite example:
Tuck had the cuteness to blush. “I’m trying to lose weight. I look fat next to you.”
Boy, did I have an answer for that. I wanted to say, “Next to me, you look sexy as hell naked and hungover and humping my leg. Period. All other considerations are moot.” But I didn’t. What I said was, “What brought this on?”
He blushed redder and shrugged.
I tried harder. “You weigh the same as I do, Tuck.”
“But you’re six inches taller.”
“Ok, but your dick is bigger.”
A smile finally. “Yeah,” he said. “There is that.”
I also enjoyed how they relied on, and trusted, each other. When there are only two people on such a big excursion, they need to be able to know their partner has their back. Ash and Tuck were perfect partners…especially when things started to go downhill.
When they finally came together, it was sexy and sweet. It was one of the hottest sex scenes I’ve read in a while, but they were still so loving. The first time they confess their love to each other, I was smiling and tearing up at the same time. Seriously, these guys are so special.
I mentioned things going downhill. Boy do they ever! Ash and Tuck stop at the trailer of Melvyn, a hiker/camper friendly recluse. He feeds them and invites them to pitch their tent at his place for the night. Melvyn mentions he thinks the animals seem to be acting strangely, and he warns Ash and Tuck to be careful. He wasn’t wrong. I don’t want to give too much away, but dammit, the rabbit was a harbinger of doom. Then…there was the roar.
I’m going to say the last 1/3 of the book is a fight for survival. It’s when it’s urgent the men watch out for each other. It’s also when two ordinary guys suddenly become badasses. I was impressed with the way Inman wrote this. Yes, the situation is over the top. However, it seemed real enough I am able to believe something like this could actually happen. When they hear the roar…the angry, horrifying roar…I was right there with them. I could hear it myself, and my heart was in my throat. I was completely captivated and held on to every word until it was over.
The Hike is one of my favorite stories of the year so far. It was a nice departure from a pure romance. I found it to be extremely satisfying. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. If you like your heroes sweet, sexy, and brave, and if you like to be a little scared along the way, this is the book for you. I can’t say enough positive things about it.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.