A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I’m enjoying this Clean Slate Ranch series that so far has featured love matches for three young men who were friends in San Francisco—two in law enforcement, one a fireman. A series of accidents and heartbreaking injuries and the death of a friend sent them north to work on Mack’s grandfather’s ranch. In book three, it’s Reyes Caldero’s turn to finally find love and happiness and he finds it with Miles Arlington, Mack’s lover Wes’s bestie. Complicated? Not really, but it does show that the book is best read after reading the first two since the characters are intertwined.

Miles takes a job as chef for the newly created ghost-town attraction that Mack is starting on a plot of land surrounded by the main ranch. Wes has talked him into it but Miles is really going because his former abusive lover, Dallas, is back and threatening to ruin the peace of mind Miles has nurtured over the past year away from him.

Reyes is tall, dark, handsome and a former firefighter. He’s stepped into Mack’s role of foreman of the ranch now that Mack is devoting all his time to making the ghost town a success. He and Miles are assigned to bunk together and though they’ve previously met, they finally get a chance to really know one another. And though a romantic attraction develops over the course of time, neither is ready to jump into anything—especially Miles who never told anyone about being sexually abused last year.

The story is fairly long, and it’s the perfect kind of slow burn romance I enjoy. Each man has ghosts to deal with and each needs to learn to trust the other before they can act on their attraction—maybe Miles more so than Reyes, but the author allows time for both the main storyline and several subplots to develop.

Dallas, meanwhile, has set out to find and then harass Miles from a distance, and he refuses to back off. I was pretty happy with the action in this adventure romance and very surprised at what occurs near the end of the story.

I had never read this author before this series, but I’m definitely coming back for more. There’s a sense of family, friendship, trust, and support throughout this story and the secondary characters were as well-rounded as the two MCs. Thoroughly enjoyable, I definitely recommend this to lovers of MM romance, especially if you’d like a little Western flavor to your romance.

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The cover features a cowboy dressed all in black facing a man wearing jeans and no shirt. Though not very unique, I can see that it does represent the MCs closely.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2018 by Carina Press
ASINB07C9F6436
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesClean Slate Ranch #3

A MelanieM Review: Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

 

Reyes Caldero keeps his past buried deep and his emotions buried deeper. But what he doesn’t say he always makes up for with his actions. When the hot chef he once saved from an abusive ex turns up at Clean Slate Ranch, the quiet cowboy is happy to act on their sizzling chemistry, even if he’s not ready to share his secrets—or his heart.

Miles Arlington needs to get the hell out of San Francisco, and heading north for a job near Clean Slate Ranch seems like just the thing. It doesn’t hurt that his secret crush slash onetime rescuer happens to work at the ranch. Miles has never been one for the outdoors, but the superhot Reyes has him ready to saddle up.

Reyes is happy to keep things casual, even though his heart has other ideas. And when Miles is forced to confront his past again, Reyes and Miles will have to put all their trust in each other if they want any chance at building a future together.

Saddle Up by A.M. Arthur is part of the Clean Slate Ranch series, one I haven’t read. However, I didn’t feel that diminished my enjoyment in reading the third book in the series where several of the couples were well established.  Arthur gave enough of their back history and the universe for this series that I felt that I knew some of the relationships not to feel that there were holes in the story or overall fabric of the group dynamics.

A.M. Arthur does broken men so very well and Reyes and Miles are no exception.  Each man is both running from their pasts. Reyes from his gang member teenage years and a horrific, brutal crime that he has kept his deepest secret secret.  Miles from his abusive, possessive ex-boyfriend and a night he can’t remember, an ex-boyfriend who won’t leave him alone. Both have come to Clean Slate Ranch for second chances.  Reyes as the head cowboy at the ranch and Miles under a new name as the head chef at the Saloon at the Ghost Town they have just opened up.

Assigned to bunk in together, both fight their attraction to each other while fighting their own demons.  Miles his fear and Reyes his anger, a combustible combination.  I liked how Miles slowly found his footing through creativity through his food, the Ghost Town’s history, and of course, the horses.  Helping him is Reyes, falling in love even though Mile’s isn’t in any emotional condition to handle it.

I liked their romance.  And perhaps, this is where not reading the other stories does hurt, but Reyes’ anger issues threw up red flags for me where Miles was concerned.  For someone coming off of a controlling, stalker abusive ex, to then have a older man wanting to “protect” him showing huge flashes of barely in control anger?  Uh, maybe not.

It does come out later on in the revelations in Reyes’ back history…still you do have to wonder.  Fear and anger/fight and flight can be two sides of the same coin but that doesn’t necessarily mean they belong in the same relationship.

I loved the elements with the horses, appreciated how they became part of Mile’s adjustment and more, part of Mile’s finding himself.  I could also have done with more of the Ghost Town and it’s merry group of workers, including Mile’s partner in the kitchen.

The drama with Geoff clearly showed me that perhaps I should go back and read the previous stories as I do enjoy this author’s writing.  More to add to my TBR list!

There was a suspenseful ending along with the wonderful HEA, almost a too quick HEA. I think I would have settled for a HFN with all that went on in this novel.  So many trials and tribulations, so many emotional upheavals and adjustments, that this ending almost felt to unrealistic.  Sweet, romantic, and lovely.  But unrealistic.

If you love A.M.Arthur, are a fan of this series, or just adore broken man and their road to HEA, then this is a story for you.

 

Cover art seems almost right for Reyes but that figure is too muscular for Miles, that stance too combative.  Would work great for another story however.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2018 by Carina Press
ASINB07C9F6436
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesClean Slate Ranch #3

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Roped In (Clean Slate Ranch #2) by A.M. Arthur

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Colt Woods and Avery Hendrix were once in a D/s relationship and were in love. Colt was LAPD SWAT and Avery was working toward his PhD in American History while both teaching and consulting on his favorite topic: the Old West. Unfortunately, Colt not only refused to share a dark secret with his best friend, Mack, causing he and Avery to quarrel, but he also chose to resign his job and run away from his problems, leaving Avery behind.

Now, as Avery arrives at the Clean Slate Ranch to consult with Mack (book one –Wild Trail) about the ghost town he found and plans to restore, Avery is shocked to come face-to-face with his past as he sees that Colt is working at the ranch with Mack. This book deals with their renewed relationship—inevitable once they begin to talk again. They address unresolved issues from the past; Colt’s unveiling of the truth to Mack, and the repercussions from that; their own past inability to overcome the separation required by their professions; and their families of origin. In addition, they build and fortify not only their D/s relationship, but also their love and commitment to one another.

Is it easy? No way. But the author takes us through what happened in the past and what is happening in the present and offers hope for the future. Overall, I enjoyed the story, though I must say that there were so many sex scenes they became repetitive and less interesting.

The one thing that really bothered me was the jump to use of present tense in flashback scenes. Since this is an ARC, the formatting wasn’t set up yet, so there were no marked scene breaks, making transition from one scene or location to another difficult to pick up on. And without those scene breaks, I’d suddenly come upon a passage where present tense was being used, disrupting the flow of my reading. I’d stop and then realize I was at a flashback scene where both the narrative and the dialogue used present tense. Honestly, I did not care for use of present tense in past scenes at all. In fact, I ended up skimming those segments, pulling key points and then moving along. If I was one of those reviewers who use gifs, I’d definitely insert one here that said “Nope!”

That was my major peeve, but overall, I enjoyed the story and I’d recommend it to those who enjoy cowboys, mild D/s and rope play, as well as to those who enjoy stories featuring smaller Doms—Colt is taller and more muscular than Avery. All in all, it was a nice story and sequel to Wild Trail.

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The cover is attractive. It appears to be a watercolor image of two men, the smaller holding a rope and the taller man in a cowboy hat and hugging the smaller man from behind. It’s actually a nice portrayal of Avery, the smaller Dom who uses rope, and his sub, Colt. Set in and around the Clean Slate Ranch, the “feel” of the cover most definitely depicts a Western MM romance.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: May 21st 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleRoped In
ASINB078TJ7GDF
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesClean Slate Ranch #2