stick shift coverRating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Journey has spent years traveling the world and writing about it for his blog. He has never been interested in settling down — either in a permanent home or with a regular partner. But when his uncle dies and leaves Journey his small hobby farm, complete with alpacas, an adorable mini cow, and an ornery cat, Journey realizes that running the farm may be exactly what he wants right now. And the one person he wants to share the experience with is his best friend, Red.

Red has been in love with Journey for most of his life, but he knows better than to admit his feelings and ruin his friendship with his straight best friend. With Journey gone so much, Red could try to put his feelings out of mind, but now that Journey has returned, they are impossible to ignore. Still, when Journey has to learn how to get things started with the farm, Red is willing to do anything he needs to help. Even if that means sharing the one and only bed.

At first, both Journey and Red are in over their heads with farm life, as while they both spent summers visiting, neither has any experience running a farm. But, with some time, they begin to get into their groove and both men realize they really like the quiet life. As they spend more time together, Journey finds himself have strange feelings around Red. Journey has never had a particularly strong desire for sex, but he has always considered himself straight. But now he is noticing Red in ways he never has before and realizing that he is totally attracted to his best friend. For his part, Red is wary, as being with Journey is something he has wanted for years and he is worried he will get his heart’s desire only to have it snatched away. But Journey is figuring out that he has the person he wants for his future in Red. Now, Red and Journey just may find that they have the love of their lives and a happy new home right in front of them.

Stick Shift is the third book in the Big Bull Mechanics series and it is a fun friends-to-lovers, bisexual awakening journey. Neuhold does a nice job setting up the connection between Red and Journey, so I could really feel that bond of friendship, even as they haven’t seen each other much in recent years. Red’s longing for Journey really comes through, as well as Journey’s slow realization that he is attracted to Red and having feelings of more than friendship. I liked seeing the exploration Journey has as he recognizes these feelings and tries to understand his changing perspective on his sexuality. There is a nice sweet comfort between these guys, a sense that they just fit so well together, along with a lot of heat as they begin to explore the physical connection between them.

The set up here was a tiny bit rocky at the start for me, as Journey comes into town just after his uncle’s funeral having inherited the farm. The one farm hand spends about 20 minutes showing them around, then has to immediately leave to move out of state. If this woman really stuck around the farm just to make sure the animals were taken care of, wouldn’t she wait at least a few days to make sure these guys had any idea what they were doing first? Of course, the plot requires her gone so the guys can stumble their way through the early days alone, but it just felt a little off. Also, within about two minutes of Journey deciding to keep the farm, Red decides that not only will he help Journey (though he also continues his job at the garage), but he is also going to immediately sell his house and move out there with him to help run it. Again, it works for the plot, but it seemed to push realism for me that Red would just instantly jump into this whole life overhaul. It also felt like a stretch how this farm even survives given the only income seems to be the fleece from a small group of alpacas and renting them out for parties. Even Journey’s ultimate money making plan seems unlikely to support this whole farm (nor does Journey seem to do much on the farm aside from taking the animals out the morning and in at night). So those are all my little niggles, but most people probably won’t be bothered by any of it. Overall, the animals on the farm are adorable and it is fun seeing Red and Journey settling into farm life.

The rest of the guys from the garage make an appearance here, as well as various men from the Four Bears series. The group scenes are always a lot of fun and the guys are wild but lovable. There are some interesting developments here that seem to lead to some future pairings, so I am excited to see where all that goes.

I found this one a great installment in this series. I really love this world Neuhold has created and the tone and vibe is just so much fun. I loved Red and Journey and enjoyed their story a lot.

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