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.
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2018 by Carina Press
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!