Tag Archives: ranch

Fire Horse (Polo #1) Audiobook by Mickie B Ashling Narrated by Max Lehnen

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fire horseBlurb

Preston Fawkes is ten the first time he meets fifteen-year-old Konrad Schnell at the San Antonio Polo Club. Captivated by the mystique surrounding the sport of kings, Pres vows to learn the game at the hands of his newly acquired friend and mentor. The hero worship soon grows into something deeper, but the friends are separated when Preston goes off to boarding school in England.

The relationship that follows is riddled with challenges―their age gap, physical distance, and parental pressure taking precedence over feelings yet to be explored. Although their bond goes deep, they deal with the reality of their situation differently: Preston is open and fearless while Konrad is reticent and all too aware of the social implications of making a public stand.

Their paths intersect and twine, binding them as tightly as a cowboy’s lasso, but fate may alter their plans. How will love overcome the divots in the turf as they gallop toward the future—one where obstacles no longer stand in their way?

Review
This book starts with Preston as an injured Polo player being told he should never play again and he’s lucky to be alive. We know he has 2 ex-wives and 2 children, and that Kon is NOT in his life, currently. (This should give you an idea of where things are headed…) Then we get to the flashbacks which take up the bulk of the book.

As a boy of ten Preston meets Konrad, a boy of 15, for the first time and learns from him what it means to be a Polo player. He acts as his groom and Kon mentors him in the sport.

Preston’s hero worship of Kon changes on the night he realizes that Kon is gay and that the feelings in his gut may be more than just friendship. Kon, as he should, rebuffs the now 13 year old’s advances.  He puts him off because a) he’s too young and b) the two are about to be separated by Kon’s joining the American Polo team and Preston’s going overseas to study.  But first the two share a passionate kiss.

Preston meets Ned at Eaton, a boarding school in England. Ned shows Preston how to be properly English and Preston gives Ned Polo lessons. After a while, Ned  becomes Preston’s tutor in gay sex as well as his close friend.

Preston and Ned don’t become boyfriends though, because Preston is saving that for Kon, whom he stays in touch with and occasionally meets.

Finally, when Preston is 17 he and Kon spend a chunk of time together and move their relationship forward, becoming lovers and long-distance boyfriends.

Here is where things go horribly wrong. Their relationship is discovered and Kon is forced to join the military and …. Well if I tell you it’s a big spoiler. Needless to say what happens next keeps Kon and Pres apart until the end of the story and for YEARS.

**
I really, really wanted to like this. I loved the idea. Polo, young love, age gap, geographical gap… It had a ton of potential.

The pre-eighteen year old sex did not bother me – that’s reality for a lot of people and I thought it was mostly handled well.

What did bother me: Kon never really seemed to love Pres as much as Pres loved him. Kon seemed to lust for Preston, but not love him. Preston was a jerk, and hard to like, so I don’t blame Kon. As an adult, Pres only gets worse.

The plot twists were far too many and too hard to believe. At times it was like a soap opera in the way that the lovers were kept from one another – for YEARS. If we have that much angst I need a huge batch of happy to make up for it and the reunion at the end did NOT make up for all the unhappiness. After all the torment we see our MCs through, they get about one paragraph of happy ending and the “celibacy issue”… I just didn’t buy it at all.

I did not like the on-page sex with people not the MC. That, more than the age thing, did really bother me.

I thought the writing was ok, but I didn’t feel a lot of authenticity from the characters. Preston’s dad was practically bi-polar (smacking Preston around then giving him a new pony.) Preston’s step-dad just going out and renting his 16 year old son porn seemed nuts. Preston’s mom even marrying Preston’s dad didn’t make much sense. Ned – putting up with Preston’s crap for so long.  And there are other areas where it didn’t feel real.

I just couldn’t connect well to either MC very well, thought the plot holes were too big to ignore and found the romance lacking.  If you are a fan of drama, you might like this.  There is a LOT of it.  If you want a tender and satisfying, relationship story, this is not for you.

Audiobook
Max Lehnen is hit or miss for me. I have heard him do some nice narrations, and I have heard him butcher some. In this case he had some tall orders. He had to do a wide range of ages, including aging the MCs from 10 to adult. He had several accents to do, Texan, British, and Preston’s odd British/Texas blend, women, kids, etc. I thought for the most part he did a great job handling such a demanding narration, though some of his accents were definitely better than others.

I give Max Lehnen 4 of hearts and the story 1 of 5 hearts which gives this an average of 2.5 hearts

2.5

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After the Sunset Audiobook (Timing #2) by Mary Calmes Narrated by Sean Crisden

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after the sunsetBlurb

Two years after riding off into the sunset with ranch owner Rand Holloway, Stefan Joss has made a tentative peace with his new life, teaching at a community college. But the course of true love never does run smooth. Rand wants him home on the ranch; Stef wants an exit strategy in case Rand ever decides to throw him out. Finally, after recognizing how unfair he’s being, Stef makes a commitment, and Rand is over the moon.

When Stef gets the chance to prove his devotion, he doesn’t hesitate – despite the risk to his health – and Rand takes the opportunity to show everyone that sometimes life’s best surprises come after the sunset.

Review

Now that Stefan and Rand are together we get to see just how they manage to make things work between the city-boy Stefan and the recently-gay-rancher Rand.

This is a great look at a couple after the “happy ending”.  With Rand and Stefan there was so much keeping them apart that you have to wonder how things are going after the last kiss.

Well, it turns out that life hasn’t been that easy.  Stefan is still keeping himself distant and not fully committed to Rand and Rand senses this.  Rand is still being a controlling a**hole and driving Stef nuts.

When something comes up, taking Rand out of town, Stefan is left to handle some important ranch details and WOW does he screw up!  He ends up in a fight, riding a bronc, showing up on YouTube, and scaring Rand half to death.

Meanwhile, Stef is also finding out some “truths” about Rand’s history that just might shake up the entire family.

Interestingly, Rand isn’t in this story very much and though it’s all about him and his family, Stefan plays the more important role throughout.  In my mind there was too much time with them apart to call this story absolutely perfect, but since it’s Mary, it’s pretty damn close!

If you enjoyed Timing you will HAVE to read/listen to this as it absolutely cements the love Rand and Stefan share and gives you a much needed glimpse at their future.  I don’t think it’d make much sense as a stand-alone.

Audio

Sean Crisden narrates this and Timing.  He does an absolutely amazing job with Rand’s growly Texas drawl.  I adore Sean’s take on the Alpha Male and like I said, Rand is oh so Alpha.  I’m not sure if it was supposed to be this way or not, but Sean continually pronounces Stefan’s name as Stef-awn, where I always thought it was Stef-en.  In either case, he’s consistent, and I ended up finding it endearing!  The sex scenes are scorching and Sean does a great job differentiating all the other voices as well.  I particularly loved the Foreman’s voice – very, very sexy.

The listening definitely adds to the overall enjoyment of this story.

4.5 of 5 hearts

4.5

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