Stef Hamilton wants to spend some time with his best friend, Tanner, and although Stef is a city boy, the allure of a Lord of the Rings tour is too appealing to pass up, even if it means Stef has to get on a horse. At the last minute, when Tanner can’t make it, Stef decides to brave the country life, especially when he sees his tour guide, Cassidy Martin.
Cassidy loves country living in New Zealand. It’s where he feels most at home and his horses are part of his family. His tourist business is where he makes most of his living and Cass meets lots of people. However, he wasn’t prepared for smart-mouthed Stef, and that man sure knows how to get to Cass.
Stef takes getting up on a horse in stride, mostly, and can’t wait to see his favorite movie locations in person. Except Stef has his sights set on Cass, and the man is giving him mixed signals. But the weather has other plans and, as the lighting as well as the chemistry between the men sparks, Stef has to step up to show that this city boy can make it in the country.
This story is more difficult for me as I have enjoyed Jay Hogan’s work in the past. I also enjoyed both Stef and Cassidy as characters, but felt that they stumbled into a story that needed more attention to details. The setup was fairly standard with two opposite men, one from the city, one from the country, meeting up and the attraction is instant. However, it went a little past instant attraction here and, while I am okay with well-done instalove, Stef and Cass only spent two incomplete days together and were then making life altering plans.
Stef was introduced in Powder and Pavlova as Tanner’s best friend and, while Tanner and Ethan do make an appearance here, this book works okay on its own. We didn’t get to see Stef’s full on sassy attitude in the earlier book and his personality was able to be on full display here and he’s the opposite to Cass’ more quiet side. Stef is full on out, while Cass had been married to a woman and never felt it necessary to let anyone know he is bisexual. Cass doesn’t have any issue that he is attracted to Stef, he just knows how difficult a relationship could be due to geography.
My issues with the book had to do with the lack of attention to detail. Without giving specifics to not give away key points of the story, things that were said in one chapter did not carry through to the following chapters, basic medical repercussions are ignored and not addressed, and bodily functions that are specifically mentioned are then ignored shortly after. All of this made for the story getting bogged down with the weight of all the inconsistencies. The beginning of the book also dragged on for as me as Stef spends a good portion of one chapter getting seated on a horse and the story was slower to get started.
The men spend a small time together where they are able to interact meaningfully with each other and while trying times can bring people closer, this didn’t work so well for me to then believe in them so quickly. There were also a number of side characters brought into conversation, such as Stef’s brother, and Cass’ father and stepmother, that ultimately didn’t add anything and the characters came off more as props. I also was anticipating that given the series is centered around New Zealand, we would get to see more of the area on page, but the majority of the book is set in one more isolated area and the allure for me of being set in New Zealand then didn’t come through as much.
While this one didn’t work out too well for me, I will still take into consideration what the author writes next and hope for a better outcome.