Review of Ralston’s Way by Talia Carmichael

Rating: 4 stars

Morgan Ralston and his brother Gibson have always run their family ranch the Ralston way meaning Morgan’s way.  Then Gibson decides to go into the horse breeding business and with the new business comes new partners and new ways.  The expanding business calls for an upgrade in their computer systems at the ranch and Blayne Dalton computer guru has been called in by his old friend Gibson to overhaul their computer needs.  But Gibson has more surprises for his brother.  In addition to the cute computer nerd, Blayne, Gibson has brought in Blayne’s brother as a chef, his other brother as a horse trainer and their father as a partner.  Soon the Ralston ranch is flush with new ideas, new people in the Dalton family. And Morgan can’t help but notice that very cute and very gay  computer guy who always seems to be where Morgan needs to be.

Now Morgan has always run things his way but with his brother determined to change things and Blayne’s attention not only to detail but to Morgan too, what is a cowboy to do?

Ralston’s Way is the first in the Prentiss’ series from Talia Carmichael about two interlocking ranching families and their friends.  I am always a sucker for gay cowboys and this pulled me in from the start.  Morgan and Gibson are running the family ranch by themselves having lost their parents.  When Gibson starts a horse breeding venture, he pulls in his friends from the university, a trio of brothers and their father, as partners.  Talia Carmichael seems to be building a series with families dealing with loss in one way or another. Morgan and Gibson Ralston have lost their parents, Paxton Lawson, father to  Blayne and his brothers, has lost his husband to cancer and brought his  family to Texas to try and recover.  And more peripheral characters that have larger roles in subsequent books all have holes in their lives from losing someone important to them.  I really like the community she is building here.

Talia Carmichael does a splendid job with her characterizations and plot lines.  Her characters are people easy to care for and take interest in.  And while the courtship between Morgan and Blayne is brief, it is also intense.  I really enjoyed watching this couple get together and can’t wait to see what the author has in store for each of the brothers as well as Paxton Lawson, a wonderful person deeply wounded in his grief.  Despite its short length, this is a wonderful story full of characters I loved spending time with.

My only quibble here is the short length of the story.  It is only 80 pages and its volume needs to be increased to really give the story and its characters their due.  My issue with the length of this story is one I reiterate over and over with regard to Total E Bound Press’s authors whether it is Lavinia Lewis, Bailey Bradford or Carol Lynne so perhaps this length is a required number of words from the publisher.  At any rate, the shortened story does their authors a disservice in my mind, as stories of excellent promise come out as stunted instead of flowing naturally to the length needed to do the book justice.  Just my opinion.  If someone can tell my why so many 80 page books, I would be grateful if no less frustrated.

But this looks to be a promising series.  I started with the second book and immediately went back to the beginning to get to know them all right where it all starts.  You will want to start your journey here too.

Books in the series are:

Ralston’s Way (Prentiss#1)

Long Hard Ride (Prentiss#2)

Art work by Posh Gosh.  Love the cover, the only thing that  strikes me as odd is the way the black band with the Prentiss name on it cuts across the torso of the cowboy, making his belly  seem (dare I say it?) pregnant.  An odd mis step from a wonderful cover artist.