Review: Pickup Men by L.C. Chase

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Pickup Men coverMarty Fairgrave is a top Pickup* man in the rodeo.  It’s his business to make sure that the bull and bronc riders get back to the gates safely.  The riders count on him and he rarely makes a mistake.   Then Tripp Colby catches a ride on a bull named Shockwave and the events that follow prove to be a life changer for both men.  Marty has been in love with Tripp Colby for several years now and knows that Tripp loves him back.  But Tripp is also deep in the closet and not even an injured Marty can make him come out.

For Marty the romance is over but Tripp is determined to get him back.  But what will a closeted cowboy do when no one is there to pick him up, not even the one he loves?

From May to August, the PBR is on break, so what a great time to get caught up on all the rodeo fiction that has been published recently.  If you are a fan of hot cowboys and rodeo action as I am, then you will appreciate this story from L.C. Chase.  In Pickup Men, the author’s focus is on the unheralded, but important profession of the pickup man.   Here is the definition of a pickup man from Jerry Nelson’s Frontier Rodeo website:

Rodeo Pick Up Men* are vital to the safety of the cowboy.  A Pick Up Man’s job is to rescue the cowboy after his eight second ride from a bucking bronc.  The cowboy’s job is to first ride the bucking bronc for the eight second ride with one hand, then grab on with two hands and wait until the Pick Up Man rides in along side the bronc and picks him up and they ride off to safety.  The cowboy then is easily set down to the ground without injury.  The Pick Up Man’s job is also to remove all equipment from the bronc and to remove the bronc from the rodeo arena after the competition.    Pick Up Men also play a role in the calf roping and steer wrestling events, by roping calves and steers after competion and gentling coaxing them out of the arena.   Pick Up Men are also a vital part of keeping the show fast paced.  Pick Up Men have a great rapport with the livestock and have years of training in horsemanship.

They are the unsung heroes who time and again save both the rider and the roughstock.  So it was wonderful to see a book with a Pick Up Man not only as the title character but as the title itself.  Way to give these men their due, L.C. Chase!

In Marty Fairgrave, L.C. Chase gives us a wonderful character who exemplifies the best qualities of a Pickup Man in more ways than just his career.  Marty is one of the top men in his profession and in his personal life, he is also the pickup man for Tripp Colby, a closeted mess of a champion bull rider.  The two men have been having a romance that has been kept hidden from those around them because Tripp fears that he will lose his sponsors once the truth is known that he is gay.  As the stress of this situation builds, Marty risks everything to save Tripp, and the result is disastrous for both of them.  For me, this is actually the best part of this book.  It is raw, the descriptions are vivid, and the action so swift that you feel as though you are down in the arena with the action taking place.  This is how it all starts:

Two thousand pounds of pissed-off beef, aptly named Shockwave, tossed around the man on its back like a ragdoll. But Tripp wouldn’t be dislodged. He clung to the spinning beast with an ease and confidence that belied the skill and athleticism—not to mention pure guts— required to compete at the professional level.

Sitting astride his best pickup horse, Fairgrave Flyer, near the chutes of the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo arena, Marty Fairgrave couldn’t suppress the smile that fought for freedom across his face.

It was a beautiful sight watching a champion at work.

But what happens next takes your breathe away, and its impact upon the reader is immediate and heartpounding.  Really, some of the best descriptions happen here.  Clearly, L.C. Chase is familiar with the rodeo and has great affection for those who make it their life’s work.  And while the fan may only see the 8 second ride, a story like Pickup Men lets the reader go behind the scenes of the rodeo, where a hundred jobs and actions must take place to pull off such an event.  This includes what happens when the cowboys are injured and the physical ailments that are part of the job.  There is the constant traveling, the stress of being tired for long periods at a time and of course, the injuries.  L. C. Chase gets this aspect right as well.

But the problem here is the character of  Tripp Colby.  He is not terribly likable at the beginning.  As I said earlier, he is a closeted mess and the reader comes down hard on the side of Marty when the two are apart.  Later on as Tripp’s story is revealed, he does earn our compassion, especially during a trip to San Francisco.  But for the majority of the book the character that Chase has created in Tripp serves more to disconnect the reader from his story rather than engage them.  And, as the book winds down, it is hard to bring the reader back into his corner.

There is a considerable amount of miscommunication between the men, including one incident that eludes any type of plausibility for me.  And the narrative becomes a little uneven towards the middle of the story. The other thing is that Tripp is 33 years old, and that is old in a profession where most bull riders are between the ages of 20 to 25.  It is a young man’s sport. And while most bull riders hate to give up riding, most accept that they have a certain time frame to work with.  All of which makes Tripp’s attitude a little more whiney than perhaps the author wanted it to come across.

But those issues aside, I did enjoy this story.  It moved along at a nice clip most of the time and had a lovely cast of secondary characters that I wished I had seen more of.  From Marty’s mother, a champion rider in her day, to his small circle of friends, they are a well rounded and charismatic group.  I enjoyed my time with them immensely.  So for all those fan of the rodeo as well as fans of L.C. Chase, I can recommend Pickup Men as a fun way to spend the time while waiting for the rodeo to return to cable.  Pick it up now!

* I have seen Pickup Men written several different ways by several different rodeo organizations.  From Pick Up Men to Pickup Men to Pick up men, all seem to be correct.

Cover art and design by L.C. Chase.  Just an outstanding cover, perfect in every way.

Book Details:

ebook, 166 pages
Published July 8th 2013 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN13
9781626490284
series

A Book Giveaway, Riding the Weather Rollercoaster, and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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So far the Washington Metro area has felt like Seattle, WA, and now we are aiming for Phoenix, AZ.  We have had close to 12 inches of rain in the last month alone, and that doesn’t seem to be letting up as we head towards the middle of July.  Really, folks, nothing like 100 percent humidity for a smokey Fourth of July.  Now the heat wave that baked the western states has hit here as well.  Temperature is rising to 98º today.  Now add to that the fact that the ground squishes with every footstep and a high humidity….well, it is little wonder I expect to see monkeys swinging from the maples at any time.  It is downright tropical outside.  Well ok, we did see a runaway red panda last week that escaped from the National Zoo (now safely back home after a trip to Adams Morgan, a very trendy place).  And a couple of teenage black bears that decided to tour downtown Washington for a suitable condo to live in.  I am betting air-conditioning and a pool were on their list of must haves!   So I am seeing a day spent inside knitting and reading on the agenda for the rest of the day.  I did get my coleus and caladiums bought on sale planted yesterday, as well as some yanking of smartweed but anything else will have to wait until the temperatures go down.

Now on to the exciting week ahead.  Kendall McKenna’s latest release, The Final Line is just out.  It is the another book in her wonderful Recon Diaries series.  On Monday, Kendall McKenna will be here with a guest blog and a book contest.  We will be giving away, courtesy of MLR Press, a copy of The Final Line to one of the people who comment on her blog and my review, which will be posted the next day.  Here is the blurb for the book:

Staff Sergeant Corey Yarwood is an instructor at the Basic Reconnaissance Course. His last deployment ended in horror, but he can’t remember those events. Battling severe PTSD, Corey’s drinking is growing out of control.

Sean Chandler walks into a dive bar, and into Corey’s life. An actor and a musician, Sean has the empathy and compassion to sooth Corey’s pain, and the strength to support him as he struggles to heal.

Corey’s lost memories are pivotal to a civilian murder, and a military investigation. Remembering could mean salvation, or destruction. Will the truth be too much for Sean to handle?

So mark your calendars for July 8 and 9 for your chance to win a copy of this wonderful book!  And thank you, MLR Press and Laura Baumbach for the copies of The Final Line.  Now here is the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, July 8, 2013:                 Guest Blog with Kendall McKenna, author of The Final Line

Book Contest.  One copy of The Final Line will be given away

Tuesday, July 9, 2013:                  Review of The Final Line, last day to comment for the contest

Wednesday, July 10,2013:          Pickup Men by LC Chase, winner of contest announced

Thursday, July 11, 2013:             Changing Planes by Karenna Colcroft

Friday, July 12, 2013:                  Fever Anthology by M. Rode

Saturday, July 13, 2013:              In Pursuit of the Bang On, Well Done, and apparently Endangered Short Story

So that’s our exciting week ahead.  I will leave you with a picture of Winston, recently groomed.  He has settled into our family as though he has

DSCN3917 always been there.  And here is a recipe for a drink to keep this hot weather in its place!  This cocktail is called appropriately Adios Motherfucker or AMF.  I have included the recipe as well as a link to the video on how to make this delicious drink.  A great way to say goodbye heatwave or  anything else to want to get rid of:

Adios Motherfucker CocktailAMF Recipe:

Scale ingredients to servings
1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz rum
1/2 oz tequila
1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
2 oz sweet and sour mix
2 oz 7-Up® soda

Pour all ingredients except the 7-Up into a chilled glass filled with ice cubes. Top with 7-Up and stir gently.
Read more: Adios Motherfucker recipe http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink735.html#ixzz2YHs7Z756

What An Amazing Week in LGBTQ History and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Rainbow Empire State BuildingLast week was such an amazing week for the LGBTQ community.  SCOTUS ruled on DOMA and Proposition 8, declaring DOMA unconstitutional and returning Prop 8 to the lower courts, essentially removing the opposition to gay marriages in California, marriages which resumed almost immediately following the decision.  Celebrations were countrywide, loud and joyous.  Even the President phoned to offer his congratulations on the ruling to the couple named in the suit.   True, the opposition has vowed to continue to fight equality, but that tide is turned and their efforts will ultimately be futile ones.   Some people will always continue to be clueless (see Paula Deen) about history lessons. No putting the genie back in the bottle or ushering people to the back of the bus once they have tasted equality.  To be adult about it, nuhuh, ain’t goin’ to happen, folks, so just deal! Woohooo, what a week.

In the FYI portion of the blog, I found Fynn’s F*&k You Scarf Pattern from Missouri Dalton’s The Night Shift.  You can find the pattern here, courtesy of Ravelry and Missouri Dalton.  Really, this pattern is too hysterical for words and looks great too.  Winston is doing great in his adjustment to the household and other dogs, almost seamless.  He is a joy for all of us.  New books are arriving in the Bellingham Mysteries series from Nicole Kimberling (Loose id) and the Recon Diaries series by Kendall McKenna, so look for book giveaways soon.

It’s been a soggy, humid week around here, with fireworks going off willy nilly it seems at local jurisdictions seemed to have planned Fourth of July celebrations anywhere but on the fourth.  Let me tell you, my dogs are  not happy about that! Sigh.

So here is the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, July 1:                      Scattered Thoughts June Book Review Summary

Tuesday, July 2:                     The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest

Wed., July 3:                           Birds of a Feather by Nicole Kimberling

Thursday, July 4:                   Son of a Gun by A.M. Riley

Friday, July 5:                         Bully for You by Catt Ford

Sat, July 6:                               Pickup Men by L.C. Chase

American Flag CocktailAnd here is a Fourth of July cocktail recipe for you to enjoy.  Happy Fourth of July in advance!

American Flag Cocktail:

American Flag drink recipe made with Blue Curacao,Creme de Cacao,Grenadine,. How to make a American Flag with all the instructions and ingredients.
Recipe Rating: 4.6 stars based on 13 votes
Ingredients to use:
0.33 oz Blue Curacao
0.33 oz Creme de Cacao
0.33 oz Grenadine
Directions:
Mix together with crushed ice in a glass and garnish with mint leaves

For more Fourth of July cocktail recipes, visit this site.