Rating: 2.75 stars
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Length: Novella

Seth Archer has a bit of a crush on his boss. It’s not hard to do, with a man as good looking as Parker, but the ranch owner is happily married and Seth isn’t interested in being a homewrecker. It does make him wish, more than a little, that he had someone of his own to come home to at night, however. Enter the new vet, Mike Henry, new to the area and new to horses, who also happens to be the sort of charming, personable, and good looking man Seth wants.

After a bad BDSM scene that left him with a few bruises and a broken rib, Mike left his ex far behind and is determined to start over again. He likes Doc Walker, the older vet who is serving as his mentor, he likes horses, he likes the people … and he really likes the looks of Seth. When Parker plays matchmaker, inviting Mike to the ranch’s picnic, Seth and Mike really hit it off. But Victor, Mike’s ex, isn’t taking no for an answer. He never gave Mike permission to leave him, and he’ll do anything in his power to get him back. Now that Seth and Mike have found each other, will their new relationship be able to chase away the demons that still haunt Mike?

Seth is a hard worker and an all-around good natured, good looking, good guy, but he’s not interested in playing the field. What Seth wants is to settle down. Not necessarily a picket fence, dogs, and kids, but a stable, committed relationship that doesn’t have cheating, partying, and arguments in it. Seth wants a home and someone to share it with.

Mike doesn’t get along with his dad, and when he started seeing Victor, not only did his dad stop talking to him altogether, so did most of his friends. None of them liked Victor, but when Mike decided to stay with him, his friends fell away. Now that he’s free from an abusive ex, he’s looking for something healthier. He wants a partner, a friend, someone who will listen when he says no.

While the two of them are casting eyes at each other from the first meeting, this isn’t a love at first sight sort of story. More a strong interest at first interaction. Mike’s hesitant about entering into anything new, and Seth wants to make sure the other man likes him back before he makes a move. Both men have been hurt before, and they both know what it is to want something who will have your back, and when Mike needs him, Seth is right there beside him, ready to defend him. It’s a novelty for Mike. Mike also wants a home, a place to feel safe and welcome, which is everything Seth wants to give him.

There are two problems I have with this book. For the first entry in a series, it spends a lot of time referencing characters who are already paired up and know each other well, and at first I thought this might be book four or five in a series. It’s also busy setting up two other characters as potential MCs for their own books rather blatantly, which moves the focus away from Seth and Mike and on to other characters.

This brings us right to the second, and most glaring issue I have with this book. The set up, that Mike is running from his ex who sends a PI after him to bring Mike home, has some potential for tension and plot, only for it to just blow up on itself. There’s not even a real chance for Mike to be afraid of what might happen before it’s done, it’s over, happily ever after. It’s such an insulting, thoughtless ending to the book that I wondered if either the author realized they were getting too long for a novella and so cut it short, or just didn’t have an end in mind and so snipped off the plot thread rather than deal with it. Either way, as much potential as there was for a cute little love story, the ‘ending’ killed any interest I have in this book and left me unable to recommend it. I’m not familiar with the author’s other works to know if this is common for him, but considering that the writing was fairly decent, I’d be willing to give other works a try.

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