Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
The toughest ride of his life is all in his head.
Bull rider Scott Gillard has been fighting all his life, only to have it culminate in a horrific act of hate committed upon someone who used to be one of his closest friends. While Scott didn’t himself commit the crime, Scott was both the impetus and accelerant for his friends actions and it has cost him everything.
After the brutal beating that cost Tripp Colby his career and almost his life, Scott has left the professional bull rider circuit behind. His past actions and anger have cost him his sponsorships and his career as a bull rider is all but over. But the past two years have been Scott try to become a better man who is responsible for his actions and more accepting of the sexuality he has always denied. Scott is trying to change and make amends but will the other rodeo riders and professionals forgive him and let him come back?
Pickup man Cory Ackerson has never backed away from who he is, even if it meant constant harassment and bigoted attacks. He’s confident in his skills, whether it is acting to save a bull rider on the circuit or putting on his eye liner. A constant on the gay rodeo circuit, Cory is intrigued when Scott Gillard shows up at one of their rodeos looking to make amends and searching to see if there is a place for Scott somewhere in the rodeo scene.
Cory reaches out to Scott when Scott’s entrance is met with anger and Scott’s only action of one of quiet defense and pain. Slowly the two form an unlikely friendship between one who is so flamboyantly gay and one who is still struggling to come out of the closet and find acceptance. When friendship turns to love, Scott must finally decide which path he will take, the one that leads out of the closet or the one that lets fear lead the way away from the one man he loves.
I think that Pulling Leather is absolutely the best so far of the Pick Up Men series by L.C. Chase. Scott Gillard was a creature of fear and hate in the previous stories. And while we may have guessed at the secrets he was hiding, he never completely rose above a shallow portrait of a bigot. Now L. C. Chase gives Scott Gillard his story of redemption and love and pulls the readers along each step of the way.
The prologue offers a glimpse into the action two years prior that caused all the anguish and shattered lives in the process. When Pulling Leather finally begins Scott is coming off two years of intensive therapy and self reflection. Now his friend and therapist thinks it is time for Scott to confront his feelings, make amends for his past actions and abuse, and take those first shaky steps out of the closet. Thankfully, this is a realistic portrait of a man still in need of support, and work. Scott Gillard is uncertain, apprehensive, and emotionally fragile. That all that is hidden behind a large, gruff exterior makes his acceptance and turnabout harder for others to accept. I think L.C. Chase has made Scott such a believable, “rough around the edges” sort of cowboy. His background is especially painful and it is revealed slowly over the length of the story as Scott gains enough confidence in Cory to reveal parts of himself and his upbringing known only to his therapist.
Cory Ackerson is such an appealing character. It will be easy for the reader to connect with such a strong character who is unapologetically, flamboyantly gay! He’s open, non-judgmental yet not without flaws. I appreciated the fact that Chase didn’t make Cory Scott’s salvation as only Scott could do that for himself. But Cory and the manner in which he lives his life works to be a lovely example of life lived outside the closet and not only for Scott.
Some readers may find Scott’s progress too slow but I thought that was one of the most authentic touches here. Scott has a ton of anger and denial to overcome and that is never a swift journey. Other aspects of this story draw on Chase’s strengths as an author. Her rodeo universes, both straight and gay, are realistically portrayed as are the people who participate in them. I believed in this story and her characters because you can almost smell the sawdust from the arena as well as the smell of sweat covered leather from all the rodeo professionals here, male or female, straight or gay. Chase does a terrific job in making all her bull riders and pick up men credible and down to earth. Loved that.
I am not sure how many stories she has planned for this series but I do know it keeps getting better and better with each installment. I hope she continues it because its obvious there are so many more stories in this universe that need telling. Consider this highly recommended but don’t start the series here. Check out the list below and start at the beginning with Pick Up Men! If you love cowboys and the rodeo circuit, this is a series for you!
Cover art by L.C. Chase. That cover is so perfect for the character and story.Love that cover! One of the best of the month.
Sales Links: Riptide Press All Romance eBooks (ARe) Amazon Pulling Leather
ebook, 177 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Riptide Publishing
original titlePulling Leather
seriesPickup Men #3
The books in the Pick Up Men series in the order they were written and should be read are:
Pick Up Men by L.C. Chase
Let it Ride (Pickup Men, #2)
Pulling Leather (Pickup Men #3)