Title ~ Riding Tall (The Fall #2)
Author ~ Kate Sherwood
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 3rd February 2014
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Rating ~ 5 Stars
Sequel to The Fall
Joe Sutton and Scott Mackenzie have ridden off into the sunset, but they wake to the cruel light of reality. Joe loves his family, even with the addition of three neighbors orphaned by a house fire. He loves the land that has supported them for generations. While there’s plenty of room left in his heart for Mackenzie, Joe must make room for him in his life.
Tired of taking and determined not to depend on another sugar daddy, Mackenzie returns to modeling in the city, but the wild clubs he once loved aren’t home anymore. Yet things aren’t right back at the ranch either. Joe is no longer the man he knew. Before the love of his life reaches his breaking point, Mackenzie must convince Joe he’s not lazy if he takes a break and not weak if he needs a little help. Finding the balance between give and take might leave them time for happily ever after.
The Fall just blew me away and I couldn’t wait to get back to Mackenzie and Joe. Riding Tall felt like coming home to the guys and the whole crazy family I missed so much, even the dogs and the bitchy mare Misery.
Joe and Mackenzie are finally trying to make their anything but casual relationship work and what‘s clear is that their lives will never be easy, especially with Joe having so much to deal with. Already struggling with his work as a rancher, part-time fire-fighter and his responsibilities for his little nephew Austin, Joe takes on the additional care of the three orphans he rescued from the fire. And as if that isn’t enough, he is weighed down by guilt for every-fucking-thing that happens, leaving Mack feeling like he‘s losing the battle for a place in Joe’s heart making him realise he has to do something… with no idea what! However, he’s not willing to just to sit back and let things happen.
“Look out, Joe Sutton,” Mackenzie said aloud, ignoring anyone who might be giving him strange looks. “I’m on your trail, hunting you down. You can run, but you can’t hide.”
Joe, tired, guilt-ridden and overworked drove me crazy. One thing after another goes wrong and Joe seems to be incapable of finding a way out of his misery. He just can’t sort out his priorities and is unable let go of his self-reproach and insecurities. No, he’s not worthy of Mack’s love, no, their relationship will never be a long time thing, yes, Mack is far better off without Joe and his thousands of responsibilities. One more responsibility? Of course Joe will take care of it, that’s what he’s there for… yada yada yada..I could have strangled that annoying little bitchy voice in his head for persuading him Mack would break up with him at some point.
“Joe swallowed hard. It felt like the beginning of the end. He’d known it all along. Mackenzie was only visiting the country; he belonged in the city. Joe was going to get his heart broken. It was coming.”
Joe is the ultimate family man, he’s so full of love for his siblings, little Austin, the dogs, the horses, the three orphans… and Mack. Mack on the other hand is clearly the strong one in this relationship, so when Joe’s breaking point seems to be inevitable he takes matters into his own hands, determined to convince Joe he’s not lazy if he takes a break, and not weak if he needs help. And finally… finally he finds the key to helping Joe without losing himself in it all. It’s getting the balance right, giving them time for a true and committed relationship.
“II want us to be partners. If you take something on, I want you to count on me to help you with it. I want you to fucking talk to me about it before you take it on…I want to be your partner. Your boyfriend and your lover and your sweet schnookums too. I want all of that, and I want you to give it to me, and I’m going to help you get yourself in a place where you can give it to me. Okay?”
Overall, it was an enjoyable, entertaining read, a great book packed full of emotional moments. I just love Kate’s art of story telling. Her dialogue sounds so natural and her humour is subtle and heart-warming. She has the exceptional talent of painting pictures in her readers minds and reading her books feel like watching a movie. You don’t read the story, you live in it, experience it first-hand. What a precious gift!
It’s too bad that Riding Tall is the final part of series, a third instalment would have been the icing on the cake. Anyway, I don’t want to be too greedy and leave you with Joe’s new worldly wisdom.
Champagne made Mackenzie happy, and a happy Mack meant a happy Joe.
Men and Animals by Kate Sherwood
My first completely inappropriate crush was on a man who was fantastic with horses. It was inappropriate because I was young enough that I was still riding my bike to the barn, so under sixteen, and he was in his thirties. And married. And working class and pretty rough around the edges, which should have been a total turnoff to a preppy little creature like myself.
But there was something about watching him handle a horse that made my knees weak. I had a weekend job looking after the horses and went out after school to exercise ride, and he was the barn manager. He was never less than a gentleman (and I’m not sure he was ever even aware of my crush), but if he’d made a move? Damn, I would have been all over him.
My crushes have gotten more appropriate as time has passed (although now I’m crushing on boys too YOUNG for me!), but a man who’s good with animals still makes me crazy. It’s the mix of nurturing and discipline, I think. A man who works well with animals—who doesn’t just yell at them and abuse them—respects them. He’s gentle when he needs to be but still insists on their respect? I don’t think there’s a single other characteristic in the male pantheon that attracts me more.
So, as you might expect, when I sit down to write a male character, I often start with his relationship to animals. I was going to make a list of all my characters and the animals they love, but it would be VERY long. Even Remy in Against the Odds, living in a sterile, futuristic world, manages to meet and bond with a chicken. I actually think a lot of my characters express their vulnerability through their relationships with animals; humans may have hurt them, but the animals won’t.
In The Fall and Riding Tall, Joe has cattle, horses, and dogs. His horse, Misery, is based on a mare I used to ride. I loved how balanced and athletic and intense she was, but she was also psycho. I don’t think anyone ever found a better diagnosis for her than that. I left her behind when I stopped riding at her barn but I still think about her and hope she’s found someone like Joe to put up with her crap.
So, how about you all? Is the guys-and-animals kink pretty widespread, or do you have different Dream Guy requirements?
Kate started writing at about the same time she got back on a horse after a twenty-year break. She’d like to think she's far too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for a few changes!
Kate's writing focuses on characters and relationships, people trying to find out how much of themselves they need to keep, and how much they can afford to give away. She tries to find a careful balance between drama and humor—she wants readers to have an intense experience and feel drawn into the book, but she also wants them to enjoy the time they spend reading.
Kate will be gifting one lucky reader an eBook of Riding Tall, just leave a comment and enter your details in the Rafflecopter below…