Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Graham has been riding the rodeo circuit for years, and he and his partner, Jackson, have won the calf-roping championship and set high standards for competitors many times. But this year is different. This year, there’s a complication—a group of animal rights protestors are creating a commotion outside the arena, and more specifically, outside the barn where Graham and Jackson house their horses and Graham intends to stop them. But when he gets face to face with them, he’s halted in his tracks by his sudden attraction to one of the young men. Kaz is a college student, vegan, activist, and gay, and he’s stunned by his attraction to the cowboy who comes out to confront his group. He couldn’t be gay too, could he?
Unwilling to act on his desires for men, Graham keeps them hidden from all but Jackson and now, Kaz. Last year, during the regionals, his long-time love for Jackson led him to accept Jackson’s drunken advances one night, but at the last minute, he chickened out and ran. Now, though he’s still attracted to Jackson, his attraction to Kaz is stronger. And when he bumps into Kaz one night at a local bar, the two go home together after Kaz indicates he’d like to show Graham something. What he shows him is a night of pleasure as Graham submits to being tied with rope and allowing Kaz more than he’s ever allowed another man. But the next morning, after Kaz leaves, Jackson confronts him, and it’s the beginning of the end of their partnership when Graham learns what Jackson has to say about their past encounter and Jackson’s opinion of Graham’s attraction to Kaz.
This is an enjoyable story, and it’s fairly short, though it would have been nice if it was longer. I love both of these authors, and the two together were making those ropes smoke! If you like enemies-to-lovers stories, or you like a little mild bondage in your MM romance, you should enjoy this one. And unlike some novellas with a similar theme, there’s much more here than the romance and sex. The story does a good job of highlighting both sides in the protests about cruelty to rodeo animals and even touches on equine rescue efforts.
Considering the length of the story, I found the characters well-developed—both MCs and Jackson. In fact, I was hoping there was a follow-up story about Jackson, but there doesn’t appear to be one as this isn’t listed as being the beginning of a series. However, if the authors or publishers are taking votes, count my vote in for a Jackson sequel. I’d love much more of this world, and I’d certainly love to see Jackson emerge from the closet and “rope in” his own man.
Cover art by L.C. Chase is perfect for the story.
ebook, 2nd edition, 155 pages
Published June 20th 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published April 20th 2014)
Original TitleRoped In
ISBN 1626494614 (ISBN13: 9781626494619)