Author: Ari McKay
Genre: Historical Western (1887)
Length: Novel (200pgs)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (3rd June 2013)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3 ½ Hearts
Blurb: Stone Harrison never knew he had an aunt; he certainly never expected her to bequeath him one of the largest spreads in central Nevada. But something about Copper Lake Ranch and its foreman, Luke Reynolds, speaks to him, offering a chance for the home he’s never really had.
Luke wants Stone to succeed as a rancher and put the legacy of his shiftless father behind him, but he’d also like Stone to share his bed. Unfortunately, Stone is convinced that the world is a harsh place that will never accept two men sharing their lives. Much to Luke’s dismay, he refuses to risk Luke’s life despite the intense attraction they share.
The tension between them escalates when a series of calamities strikes Copper Lake. An unexpected and unwelcome visit from Stone’s dandified cousin, James, only makes things worse. Stone’s ability to run the ranch comes into question, but the threat of losing it means less to Stone than the threat to Luke’s life. Stone will do anything it takes to protect the man he loves—even if it makes him a murderer.
Review: Stone is surprised to return from a cattle drive and find a letter waiting for him. it informs him that an aunt he never knew was leaving him a ranch. Arriving at Copper Lake Ranch, he knows it is a place he could call home. Meeting the ranch foreman Luke has him wanting to prove that he has got what it takes to run the ranch. Luke wants Stone to succeed and tries to ignore his attraction to the rancher, but one brief moment of shared bliss comes to haunt him when Stone says they can have nothing more between them. Their friendship suffers and then Stone receives a visit from a distant cousin, James, who Stone can’t seem to shake. But, things become really tense on the ranch when a series of calamities hit. Luke and Stone pull together to keep the ranch going and just when Stone realizes what he really wants; he is left in a position that could end in murder.
This is quite a good historical western of two men who could find love if only one of them was willing to take a chance. Luke falls hard for Stone and wants nothing better than to set up house with the man. But, Stone has already had a taste of what could happen if anyone ever got a notion that they were like that and refuses to be anything more than friends. When things start to go wrong around the ranch, Stone begins to reconsider as he becomes afraid for Luke. But, Stone grew up the hard way with an abusive father, add in being part Indian and he has had his fair share of prejudice thrown at him.
I quite liked this look into the past, where just the image of impropriety could cost a man his home or life. The relationship between Luke and Stone is slow developing, even though they have a fierce attraction to each other. Stone is afraid of the repercussions if anyone ever found out, so he holds Luke back. When danger comes to the ranch though, he begins to get over his reservations. But, solving the problems has to come first and discovering who the culprit really sticks in his craw. Luke has to think about what he wants long and hard, when he is rebuffed by Stone. But, Copper Lake ranch is his home and he still holds out hope that Stone will come around.
This isn’t a romance in the normal sense because a lot of the story is focused on the ranch and Stone’s determination to never walk away from a job unfinished. The times that Stone and Luke do spend time together is either filled with awkwardness or with secret longing before Stone confesses what he wants from Luke. I liked the storyline of sabotage and I really enjoyed it when Stone’s cousin, James, was put in his place by Agnes. Stone’s acceptance into the community was a very nice touch, showing that even back then a person’s skin color didn’t mean as much as the person inside.
I will recommend this to those that love historical westerns, finding love in suspicious times, sabotage, digging deep to continue forwards and a sweet ending filled with love.