Hard Ride (Clean Slate Ranch #5) by A.M. Arthur

Five Weddings and a Fake Boyfriend
City slicker Derrick Massey has always had a thing for cowboys. So a roll in the hay with Kendall “Slater” Stamos during a rustic weekend wedding is more than A-OK. But when Slater’s forced to hang up his saddle for the season, Derrick surprises even himself with his proposition: be my fake boyfriend and get my family off my back about finding a permanent partner.
Though unexpected, the arrangement is a win-win. Derrick gets a plus-one for a slew of summer weddings and Slater gets a place to stay while he recuperates…with lots of casual fun in between. Which is just how the sexy cowboy likes it: casual. Yet it’s obvious the chemistry between them is anything but.
With the countdown to their “breakup” on, the more time the two men spend together. And the more it becomes clear that what they have could be real, if only they let it be.

I don’t think I could pick a favorite book in this series if I was pressed, but I can say that Hard Ride would be among my top choices. I can even forgive the fact that very little time was spent at the ranch. That’s mostly because the visits from all the “crew” made up for it… at least a little 😉

Slater and Derrick’s initial hook-up was casual, but it took them both a little off guard. It was something that neither one of them ever really forgot, especially when they were around each other. It made Derrick’s offer to give Slater a place to stay and recover easy. It also made Slater’s acceptance somewhat easy to accept.

It was fun watching these two men avoid the obvious. Neither one of them wanted their time to end, but Derrick was a little bit more than reluctant than Slater. He held secrets close to his chest that kept him from committing to anyone.

Once again, the sense of family in Clean Slate Ranch makes every book in this series a must read. It was especially true in Hard Ride, because with his found family, Slater found the acceptance that he needed and didn’t even know he craved. ❤

Lucky Break (Clean Slate Ranch #4) by A.M. Arthur

Shawn Matthews never imagined he’d be living out of his car, trying to make ends meet, but life doesn’t always go your way—he knows that better than most. When an accident leaves the Clean Slate Ranch shorthanded, Shawn is enlisted to help cook and finds himself bunked next to the sexiest cowboy he’s ever laid eyes on.
The first time Robin Butler spots the new chef, he thinks he’s seeing an actual ghost. Shawn is the spitting image of his late husband, and it spooks the hell out of him. The former rodeo-star-turned-ranch-hand does his best to avoid the soft-spoken cook—except it’s kind of tough when the man makes the best damn grub this side of the Mississippi and has a boy-next-door charm that’s impossible to resist.
Even though the tension between them practically sizzles, Shawn doesn’t do hookups and Robin isn’t ready for a new relationship. Besides, Robin can tell Shawn’s been hurt and deserves a partner who isn’t saddled with a tragic past. But chemistry doesn’t lie. Maybe finding each other—and a second chance at love—is the lucky break they both need.

I’ve loved the Clean Slate Ranch series since I picked up Wild Trail, the first book in the series. While Lucky Break was a great addition, I have to admit, it wasn’t my favorite. Sometimes I can’t pin point exactly what didn’t click with me in a book, but this time I had no problem at all… Shawn drove me nuts!

Okay, so he wasn’t that bad and I can understand where his doubt came from, but he second guessed everything. He pretty much saw the writing on the wall before their relationship even started. I suppose if readers hadn’t been given both POVs in Lucky Break I could have sympathized with him more. Since we knew more about where Robin’s head and heart was, it was easier, for me anyway, to get frustrated with Shawn. The only thing that kept me from totally losing patience with him was the fact that most of his grumbling and complaining was an internal battle. He only voiced his doubts a couple of times to friends, which I supposed made him more “real”… Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit too critical? In all fairness, neither Shawn or Robin were very open about their pasts. It’s hard to talk about past failures – even if that’s only your perception of what happened. It just would have made things easier if they would have been open with each other and their friends. *sigh*

As with the other books in the Clean Slate Ranch series, the supporting characters were great. Both new and familiar characters, who I loved getting to know even better. Even though I’ve admitted that Luck Break wasn’t my favorite, it still added another layer to the ongoing story and the characters. I can’t wait to see what A.M. Arthur has in store for readers (and characters) next. 😉

Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur

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.

I really liked Saddle Up, but there are a couple of things I wished… My heart broke for these two, but I really wish that they felt like they could trust the people closest to them. Of course, that would have lessoned the conflict in the story… *sigh*

Miles was a lot stronger than he thought he was and a lot of that strength came from his friends. I love that about this series and since they’re all so close and supportive, readers get to spend time with all of them.

Reyes is even more closed off than Miles, but with good reason. At least in his eyes. He’s lived with the secrets he holds close for a long time. Because of those secrets, he doesn’t think he’s worthy of anyone’s love, much less Miles’.

There was more drama going on at Clean Slate Ranch than just the tension between Miles and Reyes that kept the pages turning. Saddle Up was a great addition to this series.

Roped In (Clean Slate Ranch #2) by A.M. Arthur – Bout of Books 22 Review

For Colt Woods, Clean Slate Ranch is home. The dude ranch in Northern California helped him heal from a devastating breakup. So when his ex-Dom, the man who broke his heart, waltzes onto the ranch, Colt doesn’t know how to deal.
A research job at a nearby ghost town brings history PhD Avery Hendrix to Clean Slate. He’s not in town forever, but it doesn’t take long for him to feel the familiar draw to Colt. When they find out they’ll be sharing a cabin on the ranch, it’s all Avery can do to stop himself from bending Colt over a saddle right then and there.
In such close proximity, Colt’s and Avery’s old feelings come galloping back. Soon Colt is doing his master’s bidding again and loving every moment of it. And the pair may be in for the ride of their lives—if the dedicated professor and his rugged cowboy can learn to trust again.

The Clean Slate Ranch promises to be a great series. I loved the first book, Wild Trail. It was the perfect start to the series and was actually a perfect set up for Roped In.

At the end of Wild Trail, Colt’s world crashed around him. He arranged for Avery to come to Clean Slate Ranch to help one of his best friends work on the ghost town that was discovered near the ranch. Avery had no idea that Colt had kept a secret from Mack. A secret that was destined to destroy a relationship with the only family Colt thought he had left. That slip changed everything for Colt.

Avery honestly thought that Colt would have told Mack the truth in the time that they had spent apart. That secret was also one of the reasons why they split in the first place. Honestly, I can understand why Colt couldn’t find a way to tell Mack. He wasn’t even supposed to know the details of what really happened the day Mack’s boyfriend was killed in a robbery gone wrong. I also understood why Avery thought that Colt should confide in Mack. It really was a no win situation and I felt bad for everyone involved.

There was a lot of healing in Roped In and a lot of miscommunication. The BDSM was also a strong aspect in Roped In – which is kind of hit or miss for me in a romance, but it fit the characters.

If I had to rank the books in this series so far, Wild Trail would definitely be my favorite. I did enjoy Roped In though and I loved the set up for the next couples in the series. 😉

Wild Trail (Clean Slate Ranch #1) by A.M. Arthur

Welcome to Clean Slate Ranch: home of tight jeans, cowboy boots, and rough trails. For some men, it’s a fantasy come true.
Mack Garrett loves the rolling hills surrounding his Northern California dude ranch. Leading vacationers on horse trails with his two best friends is enough – romance is definitely not in the cards. When a sexy tourist shows up at Clean Slate, he’s as far from Mack’s type as can be. So why is the handsome city slicker so far under his skin in less than a day?
Roughing it in the middle of nowhere isn’t anywhere near Wes Bentley’s idea of fun. Then he lays eyes on the gruffest, hottest papa bear he’s ever seen. But Mack is as hard to pin down as he looks – distant, sharp-tongued, and in desperate need of a shave. Until a campout gone wrong strands both men in the mountains with nothing to do but get to know each other.
Mack intends to keep his closely guarded heart out of Wes’ very talented hands. But for a seven-day cowboy, Wes is packing some long-term possibility. The cold country air can do wonders for bringing bodies together – but it will take more than that to bridge the distance between two men whose lives are worlds apart.

Oh, this is going to be a fun series. I’ve been a fan of A.M. Arthur for a while now so when I found out that she had a new ‘cowboy’ series I jumped on it. Let’s just say, she did not disappoint. Mack and Wes’ story proved to be a perfect way to mark the beginning of the Clean Slate Ranch series.

The description does a pretty good job of laying this story out for readers. (That doesn’t always happen…) There was a lot more to Mack and Wes though – and Wild Trail in general. Mack may have been a grumpy old bear, but he was also a loyal (and worried) grandson and friend. He lost someone close to him in a horrific way and his life on the ranch was as far removed from his previous life as he could possibly get.

There was a lot more to Wes than just a pretty face. He was smart, witty and as loyal to his family and friends as Mack was to his. They both had reasons to keep their distance, although Wes was more determined to change that than Mack. I loved these two together.

There was also a lot more to Wild Trail than just the growing attraction between Mack and Wes. The supporting characters were great, especially Wes’ sister and their crew. There was also mystery, danger and a secret that I didn’t see coming… Needless to say, I can’t wait until the next book in the Clean Slate Ranch is released. A.M. Arthur has got my attention… again 😉

 

As I Am (All Saints #3) by A.M. Arthur

asiamWill Madden is healing.
Thanks to therapy and a growing support system, he’s taking baby steps into a promising future. One of those steps leads him to an online chat room, where he quickly bonds with fellow PTSD sufferer Taz Zachary.
Despite their virtual connection, Taz is initially freaked out at the idea of meeting Will face-to-face. A sexual relationship may be the last thing on his mind, but his craving for human interaction—and more of the way Will makes him laugh—gives him the courage he needs to take the next step.
In person, the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Will is hurt when Taz doesn’t seem to be in any rush to get him into bed. Still, acceptance, love and happiness all seem within reach for the first time in forever—until demons from the past threaten the future they both finally believe they deserve.

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My favorite so far in this series… hands down!

The All Saints series is one of three of A.M. Arthur’s series that have common threads. I love it when a series brings characters from previous books back. Especially when characters are as ‘broken’ as some of Arthur’s. It’s nice to check up on them. 😉 These books take things even further by keeping readers in touch with not only characters from the current series, but with characters from past series. It seemed like As I Am had even more ‘cameos’ than most, but I’m not complaining. ❤

I’m also pretty sure that Taz and Will might also come close to being the most broken couple that I’ve read in a while. Both of their back stories were heart breaking, but they were individually stronger than they gave themselves credit for. I ended up admiring them both for their courage. They had set backs and revelations were revealed that could have easily crushed them… and almost did. They held on though and learned to trust, not only each other, but people outside their tight inner circle. That circle expanded to include several supporting characters that readers had already met. As I Am made me fall in love with some of them all over again.

I’m pretty much caught up on the books in the series that are set in Wilmington, but I still have a few to go. If you want to read a few of A.M. Arthur’s thoughts on her Belonging, Restoration and All Saints series, you can visit her website. It kinda makes me want to start from the beginning 😉

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Say It Right (All Saints #2) by A.M. Arthur

sayitrightAfter his parents kicked him out for being gay, Marc Villegas lived on the streets before getting a second chance. Now he’s giving back by working at a shelter for LGBT teenagers—because helping fight their demons keeps his own at bay. Including his infatuation with the former best friend he’s sure is straight.
Anthony Romano hasn’t seen Marc since Marc left home eight years ago. In his confidant’s absence, Anthony turned to heroin. Now at rock bottom, he has an offer from Marc to help him get clean. Detox is hard and ugly, but not as hard as admitting the truth: he’s in love with Marc. Always has been.
Marc swore he’d never date an addict, but he never dreamed the one in question would be the man he’s always wanted to be with. As the two explore their feelings for each other, Marc faces a difficult choice. Say yes, and it could cost him his sobriety; say no, and it could cost him his heart.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I can honestly say that I’ve never read a book by A.M. Arthur that I didn’t like. Her All Saints series is definitely no exception. I was really hoping to get to know Marc better after reading Come What May. Say it Again was everything I hoped for from Marc, and then some.

Marc and Anthony had a lot of history. History that had a lot to do with how they both ended up so broken. Marc had worked hard to climb out of darkness he fell into when he was forced to leave home. He never really got over Anthony. Turns out, Anthony never really got over Marc.

There was so much to love about this story, but there was a lot of heartbreak too. I wanted these two to end up together, but I respect the time that A.M. Arthur took in getting them there. They had a lot to work through and even though they needed each other, throwing romance into the mix too soon wouldn’t have been good for either of them.

As with all the books that I’ve read by this author so far, the supporting characters were great. Jonas and Tate were there to offer their support, as well as others new and familiar characters that I’m really hoping readers get to know better. Needless to say, I’m really hoping that there is more to come in the All Saints series.

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Come What May (All Saints #1) by A.M. Arthur

ComeWhatMayJonas needs Tate. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Or at least, he doesn’t want to admit it. Because there is no way Jonas Ashcroft is gay. He’s a straight, carefree frat boy player, just like any good son of a conservative state senator. If only his struggle to convince everyone—especially himself—didn’t leave him so miserable. No matter how many girls or bottles he drowns himself in, Jonas can neither escape nor accept who he is.
Enter Tate. He’s smart, confident, and instantly sees right through Jonas’s surly exterior. Sure, he’s done things in life he’s not proud of, but he knows who he is and what he wants. And what he wants is Jonas. As their easy friendship intensifies into something more, Tate introduces Jonas to a life he’s never known. One filled with acceptance and sex and a love that terrifies and excites them both.
But some inner demons refuse to be shaken off so easily. When Jonas’s old life barges in, he faces a shattering choice, one that could destroy everything he and Tate have fought so hard for. Sometimes love just isn’t enough—and sometimes it’s exactly what you need.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1With every new book and every new series written by A.M. Arthur I become a bigger fan. Come What May didn’t change that. The best part is the connection between the new books and her past series… mostly because I have some catching up to do and each book I read reminds me of that and makes me want to get to know these characters even better. 😉

Speaking of characters, I loved Jonas, even though he was in serious denial about who he was. That wasn’t all his fault though. His parents played a big role in who he was… and not in a good way. I probably don’t have to mention that I really, really didn’t like Jonas’ parents. As crappy as sending him away as punishment seemed to be on the surface, it turned out to be one of the best things that his parents could have done for him.

And then there was Tate. As much as I felt for Jonas, I absolutely adored Tate. He was 100% committed to his family and his job. He was also totally comfortable with who he was, which made it easy for him to want to help Jonas.

Watching these two become close and open up to each other was only one of the best parts about their story. The other reason I loved Come What May was because of the amazing support system that both of these young men had. From friends to family, I’m think I’m going to really enjoy getting to know all of them better. Say it Right is next, and I can’t wait to see what A.M. Arthur has in store for Marc. 😉

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The Heart as He Hears It (Perspectives #3) by A.M. Arthur

TheHeartAsHeHearsItLove can slip through the smallest crack in the door.
While most of his friends have moved on to “real” careers, Jon Buchanan is content skating through life as a part-time waiter and gay porn star. Firmly single thanks to a previous relationship disaster, he focuses his spare time on Henry, a dear friend dying of cancer.
And with Henry’s happiness paramount, Jon is on a mission to help Henry meet his recently discovered grandson.
Isaac Gregory hasn’t set foot outside for the past year. He has everything he needs delivered, and his remaining family knows better than to visit. When a complete stranger shows up claiming to be his grandfather—with a distractingly handsome younger man in tow—his carefully structured routines are shaken.
Despite his instant attraction, Jon senses Isaac is too fragile for a relationship. Yet tentative friendship grows into genuine companionship. And when Henry’s health begins to fail, they realize Fate brought them together for a reason.
Warning: Product contains a neurotic porn star with body image issues, a virgin hero with severe agoraphobia, and a fluffy ball of gray cuteness you’ll want to take home and cuddle. Also contains references to past abuse some readers might find disturbing.
 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1This is a series that I’ve enjoyed since the very first entry. Noel and Shane started things off in The Truth as He Knows It and then came Gabe and Tristan in The World as He Sees It. It should come as no surprise that I consider The Heart as He Hears It a great addition to the Perspectives series.

Readers were introduced to Jon earlier because of his friendship and working relationship with Gabe. He’s got it all together on the surface, but it didn’t take long being ‘in his head’ to figure out that he was carrying around a lot of emotional baggage. Aside from his friends, his main source of support was his friend and mentor, Henry. The really sad part about that is that throughout most of The Heart as He Hears It, Henry is dying. While trying to tighten up loose ends, he finds out he has a grandson that he never knew about.

Isaac has baggage of his own and because of trauma he experienced, he not only never leaves his home, he doesn’t let anyone in either. There’s something about Henry and Jon though that causes him to let his guard down.

There were quite a few supporting characters in The Heart as He Hears It, not least of which was Bear. This kitten stole everyone’s heart and helped Isaac open up in more ways than one.  Gabe, Tristan and all of Isaac’s family also played important roles. There were tears and laughter, some scary moments and adorable ones. There were also more than a few characters that I hope eventually end up with their own HEA, because they definitely deserve one. 😉

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The World As He Sees It (Perspectives #2) by A.M. Arthur

WorldAsHeSeesItLove knows no limits…but fear could keep them from seeing it.
Gabe lives a double life. As Gabriel Henson, he works multiple jobs to support his remorseless, alcoholic mother. As Tony Ryder, he does internet porn for extra cash and regular safe sex without complications.
Yet when he encounters a scared young man freaking out in a night club, he’s compelled to reach out. Ever since then, the memory of that young man has haunted him.
Tristan Lavelle lives his life thirty minutes at a time. After a traumatic brain injury three years ago, he gets through his day recording his life in spiral notebooks and sticky note reminders.
A month after Tristan’s embarrassingly public meltdown, another chance meeting with Gabe sparks a warm, emotionally fulfilling email relationship. Both men crave more, but fear of the next step stands between them.
Until Tristan gets the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial that could improve his memory—if the side effects don’t kill him. But for Tristan, the possibility of a real life with Gabe is worth any risk…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I really liked The Truth as He Knows It, the first book in A.M. Arthur’s Perspective series. I loved Noel and Shane’s story, but I have to admit, as much as I loved these two, their story ended with me being even more in love with Tristan and needing him to get his HEA as well. I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen, I just knew it needed to happen. Needless to say, The World as He Sees It made me a very happy reader 😉

Tristan’s story was heartbreaking. He was dependent on others and had no real hope of living a normal life outside of a continual care facility, much less finding the kind of love that Noel had found with Shane. What others told him and the notebooks full of notes were his only source of memory. It would take a special kind of person to be patient enough to put up with his handicap.

Gabe was dealing with his own kind of trap. He took it upon himself to care for a mother who not only didn’t appreciate his effort, but took full advantage of it. He worked several jobs and never knew what version of his mother he was going to find when he finally got home. I felt as sorry for him as I did for Tristan in a way. I also loved them both.

Speaking of which, there was a lot to love about The World as He Sees It. I still loved the unconditional love that Noel had for Tristan. Even though he was a little over-protective at times, he meant well and had Tristan’s best interest at heart. I loved Shane’s understanding and support. I adored Gabe’s dads for so many reasons. I also really liked the approach A.M. Arthur took to making this relationship work. As much as I wanted Tristan to find his HEA, I wasn’t sure how it would happen. The way they eased into it was perfect and believable.

As much as there was to love, there was also a lot that brought out the ‘momma bear’ in me. The gay bashing that changed Tristan’s life was deplorable, but the fact that his parents basically washed their hands of him was just as bad. I just don’t understand that kind of mentality. It makes me understand and forgive Noel for his overprotective tendency toward Tristan. I’m pretty sure I would have been the same way. *sigh*

I can’t wait to see what direction the Perspectives series takes next, but reading these books has also made me even more determined to pick up more books by A.M. Arthur in her previous series. 😉

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