Troy Gardener’s life is a mess. For years now he has been a happily married husband and father to his wife and daughter, working hard to get ahead to support them in comfort. He has refused to admit his homosexuality all his life, even to his gay brother. But deep inside, he knows the truth, and the guilt is killing him because he knows the people he loves will be the ones hurt the most by his coming out. So Troy has remained firmly closeted in his life and mind until circumstances throw open the door into his sexuality and his life is shattered. Now after losing everything dear to him, including his job, Troy heads west to the cabin his uncle left him and his brother. He needs time to reflect on his actions and try to find a way back into his daughter’s affections if possible. But Troy never counted on a blue eyed gorgeous ranch hand showing up on his property, upsetting his self imposed isolation and his heart.
Liam Southard is literally at a dead end after being thrown out of his house by his abusive father. Collapsed by the side of the road, miles from nowhere, lack of food and water has finally taken its toll on his abused body and soul. Then a miracle happens, and he is rescued by two men who take him back to their ranch to recover. Liam thinks he must be in heaven or the closest thing to it because when he comes to, he finds out he has been taken in by gay ranchers, who cloth him, feed him and give him a job and home. On his first day on the job, he heads into the mountains to investigate a smoke column and finds a gun being pointed at him, and a gorgeous stranger behind the trigger. His first introduction to Troy Gardener is a rude awakening for both men. Even a rocky start can stop Troy and Liam from thinking about the other but more obstacles must be overcome before they find their happily ever after.
I started Andrew Grey’s Range series by reading the last two published books in the series first. I loved them both and couldn’t believe that somehow I had missed this series so now I am going back to pick up the remaining books to acquaint myself with all the characters and the relationships mentioned in A Foreign Range(Range #4) and An Isolated Range (Range #5). Still reading them out of order just because I am curious to see if they stand up as singular stories (they do), I find the series just as beguiling and charming as ever.
Andrew Grey has managed to give us two characters in each book with backstories that range from abusive families, closeted individuals, and sometimes just haunted personalities that stay with you long after the book is finished. An Unsettled Range brings us Troy Gardener and Liam Southard, two characters in keeping with Andrew Grey’s marvelous creations for the Range series. Troy Gardener is a realistic mess of a man. Admittedly selfish and shallow, he has alienated his gay brother and lied to his wife and child with his self denial over his sexuality. Grey brings us a credible portrait of an agonized man finally looking at himself in the mirror and hating the image he sees. It is a shattering moment for Troy and the reader. And it enables the reader to find compassion for this man who otherwise might be too unlikable to root for.
Liam Southard’s past unfolds slowly throughout the book, the horrific details of his upbringing revealed in spurts. It is impossible not to love Liam from the first moment we see him collapsing by the side of the road. Our sympathy is engaged fully at that moment and never leaves this wonderful young ranch hand. Grey has made him the opposite of Troy, someone who has remained optimistic and great hearted, no matter the pain Liam has been through. He is such a lovely, believable character, and is a stand-in for all those young GLBTQ youth cast out of their homes like yesterday’s garbage. I just loved everything about this young man.
As always, Andrew Grey brings a multitude of issues into his story. In this case, it is water rights, Mining companies, and the rights of endangered species. A lovely irony with contrasted with the rights of gay individuals still being fought, especially out west. And we also have the plight of large cat rescue as well. All outstanding elements, all beautifully folded into a heartwarming story.
So, I am off to finish up the rest of the books. I think you will love them as much as I do. Here they are in the order they were written and released:
A Shared Range (Range, #1)
A Troubled Range (Range, #2)
An Unsettled Range (Range, #3)
An Isolated Range (Range, #5)
A Volatile Range (Range, #6)
Cover art by LC Chase is beautiful, it not only speaks to the subject matter but brands the series.