Rating: 4 stars
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Colt Woods has made a life for himself at Clean Slate Ranch, getting a fresh start after a breakup with his boyfriend and a crisis at work. Colt has made a family of friends and co-workers, but things are stressful with his best friend Mac now that Colt shared a devastating secret about their past. He is even more uncertain now that his ex, Avery Hendrix, is back in his life. Avery has come to the ranch to help with restoring a ghost town and suddenly Colt is facing mistakes from his past head on.
Avery is surprised to find Colt at Clean Slate when he comes for the job. When things went sour with the men years ago, Colt just took off, leaving Avery feeling abandoned. He isn’t sure he can trust Colt with his heart again. But as the two spend more time together, Colt becomes clear that he wants Avery back in his life, both as his boyfriend and his Dom. Avery is still uncertain, but he can’t deny his feelings for Colt or his desire to see if they can make it work this time.
Things are going well for the men as they quickly fall back into their sexual and BDSM relationship. And Colt seems to have changed, becoming more grounded, less jealous, and more willing to be open with Avery. But Avery still lives far away and when his consulting job on the ranch is over, he will have to leave town. He wonders if the distance will be a hurdle in their relationship once again. Avery is also still working through some trust issues after the guys had trouble the first time around. However, both Avery and Colt want to move forward with their new lives together, and they are determined to find a way for things to work this time.
Roped In is the second book in A.M. Arthur’s Clean Slate Ranch series. We meet both men in the first book, Wild Trail, and many of the side characters cross over between books. While I think you could follow the story without having read the first book, there is a subplot about Colt’s relationship with his best friend that starts in Wild Trail, so I do think that this one is best read after the first.
I really enjoy the set up for this series and Arthur has done a nice job developing the setting with the ranch, the small town, and the ghost town restoration. I really like the side characters, as well as the bonds of friendship and family that these guys have all built. The relationship between Avery and Colt overlays well with this set up and I really liked revisiting these characters.
Arthur gives us a nice sense of Avery and Colt’s past relationship, as well as how things are developing this time around. We get a series of flash back scenes that cover their earlier relationship and we can see the guys meeting, as well as how their relationship changed from a platonic Dom/sub connection to a sexual and romantic partnership as well. I wish we could see more of what had happened to cause their break up (we are told but we don’t see those scenes), but overall I enjoyed the way that the backstory on their relationship is conveyed and it was nice to see that connection rekindled.
At times I felt like their issues are all over the place, and there are lots of things that come up over the course of the book. Avery worries about whether Colt wants him for him, or for the fact that he wants a Dom. This comes up a lot and takes a while to be addressed. There is the issue of the long distance, problems with Avery’s family, major issues with Colt’s family, and the big question of trust that Avery struggles with. So it felt like a lot going on between them and I could have used a little more solid resolution, or at least not quite so many balls in the air. One conflict, in particular, shows up again at the very end of the book and I felt like a lot more time was needed to really make that situation feel resolved.
Despite these issues, I am definitely enjoying this series. I am particularly excited for the next couple, as Arthur gives us lots of intriguing bits of them in this story and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. Arthur has a great set up here and I think this one continues to be an engaging series.