Review: After the Fall (Tucker Springs #6) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

After The Fall coverNathan has pursued a dream of owning his own dressage horse and now after years of saving, Nathan has finally bought one.  His  Trakehner mare, Tsarina, is young but Nathan hopes to show her after they spend some time training together.  But all Nathan’s hopes and work of 15 years is shattered in one moment.  On Nathan and Tsarina’s first trail ride, a motorcyclist on the wrong trail causes a horrendous fall that breaks several of Nathan’s bones and sees him on his way to the hospital and Tsarina loose in the woods, his summer and hopes in ruins.

Ryan has always traveled where his wanderlust takes him with nary a thought of settling down in one place.  His current travels have brought him to Tucker Springs, Colorado on his way to Texas and a job for the winter.  But one wrong trail ride on his motorcycle changes his path after he causes a rider to fall after his horse shies when Ryan veers into their path.  The rider, Nathan, has  a broken leg, and a broken hand that resulted from a mean right hook after Nathan punched Ryan in his fury and pain.

Feeling guilty, Ryan offers to look after Tsarina while Nathan is incapacitated.  Before each man realizes it they have fallen into an easy friendship that soon turns into something more.  But each man has his own insecurities and issues to deal with that starts to throw up obstacles to love.  Can Ryan and Nathan put aside the past in order to make a future together?

After The Fall, Tucker Springs story#6, brings back a character, Nathan, that we first met in the very first Tucker Spring novel, Where Nerves End.  In that story, we come across Nathan as Michael’s young assistant in his shop Tucker Springs Acupuncture. He is introduced as a young, college age, nattily dressed gay man but we lacked a larger picture as to who Nathan was.  Now L.A. Witt fills in the portrait she started a while ago and we get to see his depth of character and his dreams for himself.  I found it startling that Nathan aspired to own a warmblood and show in dressage, a lovely quirk for a western  town where the style of riding is so different.  That is an unexpected and marvelous side of Nathan.  And by its inclusion, the author gives Nathan a layer that lets us know that he is a serious, disciplined and caring young man all at once.  Owning his own horse is a goal Nathan has spent “ten years of dreaming, three years of saving, and almost a full year of searching for the perfect horse”, so his happiness and anticipation on the first day he is going to get to ride his horse is palpable. And it makes what happens next scary and heartbreaking in vivid and authentic detail.

But the author has also given Nathan more than his share of past problems with men and those issues as well as watching his friends in the act of demolishing their own relationship has caused Nathan to pull away from any romantic relationships of his own at the moment.  As Nathan reasons it out for himself, he has a full life and schedule and a  romance would only add its unwanted complications at the moment.  I think we have all been there at one time or another and this makes Nathan a character we can certainly relate to.

The character of Ryan (no last name) is more of  an enigma.  We learn little of his past, some about his family and a smidgen about what prompted his tumbleweed lifestyle.   But frankly his personality is overshadowed by that of Nathan, who is telling the story.  That lack of fullness to his character leaves the resulting romance between the men lacking as well.  True, there is a sweetness to the manner in which they fall in love, a startling contrast to the way in which they first met.  I certainly enjoyed watching them become first friends and then lovers but it could have felt so much more real had Ryan been more fleshed out as a person and Nathan’s equal.

There were a few other quibbles for me in this story. One, for Ryan to learn how to push a dressage horse into a collected trot or canter using his seat with no training is a tad unrealistic, considering the amount of skill and training that goes into a dressage horse and it’s equestrian partner as well.  Yes, there are natural riders out there who just seem to “get it”.  They have a great leg and a natural seat that just sticks to the saddle, flowing along with the rhythm of their partner.  But Ryan doesn’t even know how to hold the reins in an English style, having learned the western method of riding which is completely different.   Beginners usually saw on the reins or pull too hard,   The subtle tickling of a braided rein, the slight tension required takes time, more time than Ryan had.  My other quibble is the lack of last names.  I don’t know why but this drives me crazy.  If you want us to believe in characters fully give them a complete name.  Unless they are Cher of course.  Stepping off my quibble box now.

For most readers the last two issues won’t be a problem with them.  It’s just nitpicking on my part.  But Ryan’s character and the swift resolution of their commitment issues might be more problematic.  I think another chapter or two would have seen the ending more drawn out and given the author more time to paint a more realized picture of a man who finally finds a place and person to call home.

I really enjoyed After The Fall and I think you will too, especially if you are already a fan of the Tucker Springs series.

Here are the stories in the  Tucker Springs series in the order they were written, and is recommended that they be read:

Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs, #1) by L.A. Witt
Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2) by Heidi Cullinan
Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3) by Heidi Cullinan
Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) by L.A. Witt
Never a Hero (Tucker Springs, #5) by Marie Sexton
After The Fall (Tucker Springs #6) by L.A. Witt

Cover Art by L.C. Chase, lcchase.com/design.htm.  Love the cover but ack…that posture, those flying elbows…tuck those babies in.   Shakes head.

Book Details:

ebook, 202 pages
Published October 7th 2013 by Riptide Publishing

Sunday Morning Sports Commentary in Maryland and the Week in Reviews

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Sports are on my mind this morning, so bear with me.  Lots of things going on…..Maryland beat Duke in what will probably be their last matchup because of the change in divisions and money grab. So yeay for Maryland and boo for Maryland.  And it looks like no students were beaten by Prince Georges police in last night’s celebration, so good for that!  A step forward at any rate.

The boys of summer are back in spring training and I have high hopes for the Nationals this year.  Davey Johnson is hanging in there for one more year before he retires and all the boys look healthy and in great shape.  Go Nats!

The Caps are playing again as is the rest of the NHL.  About time, nuf said.  Now if they could just consistently get it together I would be beside the moon.  But I am still rocking the red! Go Caps!

The debate on whether the Redskins should keep its racist name is getting louder but as long as Snyder remains as owner I don’t see any changes coming.  Consider who he is and the actions he has taken to date.  Sued old ladies who were long term fans,  sued a free newspaper, cut  down a gazillion trees against the law along the Potomac to improve his view from his home (never mind the bald eagles there), and generally behaves in almost every instance like a wealthy overindulged brat (in my opinion, lawsuits, people) who knew he could get away with anything and does.  If you have time to waste, run over to the Skin’s website and look at the statements he made as to why the racist name couldn’t be changed.  Yet he sued a free news paper over saying it had called him a Jewish slur.  No it hadn’t but he is brazen enough to use the charge when it suits him,  The bad karma this team is wracking up should see them in bottom of the league for quite some time to come.  RGIII, look around for another team to play for!  The smell around the Skins is rank and getting worse.

In the saddest news out of South Africa, a man, Oscar Pistorius – the Blade Runner has been arrested and charged with premeditated murder.  Already the bloggers and commentators are out in force trying to put their spin on this tragedy.  Was it the instant fame and fortune, a man brought down by hubris?  Or was it his real nature that had been hidden all along.  Perhaps we will never know but you can be sure we will be reading about it for years to come. A very sad end for a remarkable tale of endurance and achievement.

We are still flipping back and forth here weather wise, spring one day, winter the next, and then literally back to spring within hours, so the reviews are along the same lines, all over the place.  Several brand new releases, some older books I am just getting to with the only thing that ties them together is the high ratings:

Monday, Feb. 18:                        Where Nerves End by L.A. Witt

Tuesday, Feb. 19:                        Tell Me It’s Real by T.J. Klune

Wed., Feb.20:                              The Family: Liam by Katey Hawthorne

Thursday, Feb. 21:                      A Volatile Range by Andrew Grey

Friday, Feb. 22:                           Lessons in Trust by Charlie Cochrane

Saturday, Feb. 23:                       Upcoming Author Spotlights

So there you have it.  A gut busting comedy, vampires, cowboys, Cambridge dons, and the first Tucker Springs novel.  All great and none of them should be missed.   And remember to send me your questions that you would love to ask an author!   See you all here on Monday.