Rating: 2.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
When Robby gets the call that his father has suffered a stroke, he packs up his life in the city and returns home to the ranch to help out. His father is going to recover, but he’ll never be able to work the ranch again. Robby is glad to be home. He missed the ranch, his brother, Drew, and the hands. He missed his life there. But Robby also goes back into the closet, worried about disappointing his family.
When Joon shows up, Robby is struck by the just how beautiful his brother’s best friend is. Joon is a character and a contradiction. He is abrasive with Drew, but sweet and polite to everyone else. Robby doesn’t know what to do with Joon’s flirting, but the attraction is strong between them. Joon, for his part, has shown up on the ranch both to support Drew, but also to run away from his controlling father and an arranged marriage. While he isn’t much help on the ranch, he does what he can, all the while flirting with Robby and antagonizing Drew.
But things are not easy. When they run into trouble in the city, Joon is the target. Robby is frustrated with his attraction to Joon, because he feels like he can’t act on it. And when that boils over and the men have a sexual encounter, Robby puts distance between them. When Robby and Joon finally have a conversation and Robby explains, they decide to start a relationship while Robby figures out how he wants to come out. But things go from bad to worse when there’s an attack, and Robby no longer wants to keep Joon a secret. The last thing either man expected was to find love, but it found them anyway.
As soon as I read the blurb for this one, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, it became apparent rather quickly that this was not the book for me. The writing and narrative style was not one I enjoyed. The lack of world building and detail also worked against things for me. While the story has good bones, ultimately, this book didn’t work for me.
This story was filled with stereotypes and cliches that didn’t sit well with me. Joon feels like a bit of a caricature of a rich South Korean, though raised in America. His father has certain expectations, and since Joon doesn’t fit any of them, he’s an outcast his father hates. But it seemed like a plot point to bring Joon to the ranch and nothing more. Robby’s story is a familiar one; he’s a boy raised on a ranch who couldn’t be himself and so strikes out to make his own way, only coming home when there’s a tragedy. But for me, given the rest of the characters, his reason for staying in the closet feels undeveloped. Maybe when he was a teen it made sense, but his family has given no indication that they would turn against him. It pained me to see him still holding on to that when we are given no indication his family would have a problem. Also, there was just not enough character development for either MC. For me, they read as one dimensional.
There were parts of both MCs that I really enjoyed. Joon’s banter with Drew was at times adorable, and believable. Robby is a sweetheart who doesn’t know how to get out of his own way. The two men were opposites, and yet they could work as a couple. But my problem with the romance aspects of the story was that it never went below surface level. There was an immediate attraction between them, quite a lot of push/pull as they figured it out, and then suddenly they were in love. The conversations were not in depth, and while I could see their attraction, I couldn’t understand what drew them together on a deeper level. I wanted so much more from these two and it just didn’t materialize.
But even more than that was the lack of detail in this book. I have no idea where the story takes place. The ranch is barely described, and there’s very little actual “ranch” things being done on page. When they are, it’s just a sentence or two. It’s apparently near a city, but I don’t know which one or how far away it is. Seemingly not far, as they go to the city for items they need. Add to that the time jumps where little is described, and the story felt rushed. It never delved deeper than the surface and, because of that, I couldn’t get absorbed in the story.
All in all, the lack of detail worked against this book in a major way for me, and the aspects I liked weren’t enough to redeem it. I wanted so much more from this story and the MCs, and was left disappointed throughout. Though it’s the first of a series, and the author left some clues as to who we might see in upcoming books, I don’t think I’ll be continuing. Sadly, I’d have to say give this one a pass.