Rating: 5 stars
Marty Green, college student, was doing the thing he loved best, playing basketball for his first intercollegiate game for his Brackett College team when the unthinkable happened. While on the court, Marty suffers a stroke and ends up in the hospital for months recuperating and learning to walk again. Due to the extent of the damage done to his brain, the recovery is taking longer than he had hoped and his parents want him to come home to continue his rehabilitation. But Marty knows from experience just how smothering and overprotective his well meaning parents can be, so when his doctor suggests an alternative, to go to a ranch owned by a friend of his where Marty can work on daily chores, help care for an invalid father as well as his rehabilitation, Marty jumps at it.
Veterinary assistant Quinn Summers is there when Marty arrives at the ranch owned by Dakota and helps him get settled into his room. Everything about the young man in the wheelchair attracts Quinn, including his determination to be independent. Marty will help care for Jefferson, Dakota’s father as well as help feed the horses at the ranch. Marty has alway loved horses as much as basketball and quickly settles into life at ranch. The biggest adjustment to life at the ranch is seeing openly gay men living and loving each other as other heterosexual couples do. Marty has known he was gay since his teen years but never came out due to his conservative Republican Senator father. Now he has the chance to finally be who he really is and Quinn is ready to help him. But there are plenty of obtacles on the path to romance for Marty and Quinn. Quinn’s father dislikes the fact that his son is gay and works to undermine Quinn in every way possible. And there is Senator Green who is using an antigay platform to help him get re-elected to the Senate. It will take courage and heart for Marty and Quinn to overcome their families and reach for love.
Andrew Grey’s Range series just gets stronger with each new book and An Isolated Range is perhaps the most amazing addition yet. Marty Green is an extraordinary character, inspired by a real life basketball player from Gettysburg College who experienced the same devastating stroke that happens to Marty. Grey’s description of the stroke as it happens from Marty’s POV is as shattering as it is realistic. And that authenticity continues from the moment Marty wakes up in the hospital, moves into rehab, and then when he realizes that to get better he must move beyond his family into a more independent living arrangement or have his recovery be stifled by overprotective parents. The author is able to convey to reader the crushing disappointment that Marty feels when he is unable to walk, his stress and dismay over the lack of progress and his inability to be his own man. Andrew Grey does a incredible job of bringing Marty Green to life in every facet of this young man’s journey.
Quinn Summers is an equally remarkable character. He has succeeded in his personal life, with help from Wally, Dakota, and Jefferson, to become an exceptional young man who dreams of becoming a veterinarian. One of Quinn’s biggest obstacles in his life is his father, a self destructive man who continually tries to pull Quinn down with him. This element of An Isolated Range is as fully developed and layered as the rest of the story. And you root for Quinn to continue to extricate himself from his father even as the man reaches out to pull Quinn back in.
We also have to watch as Jefferson Holden fades, his illness claiming him as Jefferson is a character we have come to love over the series of books. This is such an affecting element of this story and Grey plays off the relationship all the men on the ranch have with Jefferson (he has been a father figure to most of them) against the antagonistic relationships Marty and Quinn have with their respective dads. Marty’s relationship with his Senator father is fraught with complexities as neither of Marty’s parents realize he is gay. Just as Marty is getting comfortable with his sexuality, Marty’s father starts to ramp up antigay sentiments to help him get re-elected to the Senate, a plausible action that we see mirrored in the media every day.
Really, An Isolated Range is just one outstanding book from every angle possible. I cannot recommend it enough. However, I would start at the beginning of the series. Read them in the order they were written, starting with A Shared Range (Range #1) which introduces you to Dakota and Wally, and continue on from there. Don’t miss a one.
Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read in order to understand the characters and their relationships:
A Shared Range (Range, #1)
A Troubled Range (Range, #2)
An Unsettled Range (Range, #3)
A Foreign Range (Range, #4)
An Isolated Range (Range, #5)