When love sneaks up on you, shoot for the heart. Billy Bradford has a secret, and it’s bigger than the fact that he’s an assassin. When Tucker Hayes, Billy’s “straight” best friend, is injured on a mission, Billy acts in haste, kissing Tucker. Shocked by the act, Tucker runs. But desire is stronger than convictions, leading Tucker to hunt down Billy. The other guys on the ranch are oblivious to Tucker and Billy’s actions as they investigate a new target. Grant Stovall is hung up on his ex, but Roger Burk, their new operative, catches his attention and one small touch isn’t enough. Meet the cowboys of Wild Bluff Ranch in the first audiobook of the Colorado Heart Series, Colorado Wild.
These books have been languishing on my To Be Listened to list for awhile and I’m not sure why… but I decided to give them a go! I grew up in Colorado and I’m a fan of books that take place there – so I was pretty psyched to explore this lengthy series.
First, I was excited to find out that this is not only a “cowboy” story but a military story too! Our boys live and work on a ranch but it’s a special ranch that’s more decoy and training grounds than anything. Mostly, it’s a base for operations of a secret unrecognized branch of the military who act like vigilantes and take out bad guys when the normal routes wouldn’t work or would take too long.
The premise sounds amazing – gather ex military men and super train them and give them resources they normally wouldn’t have then aim them at really, really bad people.
Now this is only the first book, so I assume that some of the “problems” I found with this are due to the world building that normally only exists in the first part of a series and so won’t be so prevalent in future books. But… there is a lot of telling in this story. The author gives us a lot of information and rather than demonstrate some of these things she has the characters somewhat awkwardly telling us stuff or simply outlining things directly for the reader. It’s not overwhelming, but it is noticeable.
Secondly, there are a BOAT LOAD of people. At least four (maybe six?) main characters in this book and a few more who will clearly be central figures in books to come. It’s a lot of names and I got confused a lot as to who was who and what they meant to one another. They aren’t all that different from each other so it was difficult to keep track of them all.
That being said, we have two main couples in this story (sort of). It looks (at the beginning) that it’s going to be a story about Grant and Roger. Roger is the new guy and not interested in forming a relationship with a new team member (or anyone really) and Grant is just out of a bad relationship with someone who may or may not end up being a bad guy.
Then there’s Billy and Tucker. Billy is gay and has been crushing on his “straight” BFF Tucker for years. Tucker is very confused about his feelings for Billy but when it looks like one of them might lose the other, he’s willing to explore his feelings after all these years. BUT he’s super worried about being gay and this colors all his actions and inner thoughts.
By the end of the story Billy and Tucker have sort of started a relationship (I have huge problems with how this played out – which I’ll get to) and I’m not sure if we’ll be seeing more from them or not – but I imagine they’ll grow along with the series.
(Here might be considered a bit spoilery so if that bugs you – skip down to the audio part of the review 🙂 )
My main problem with Tucker and Billy’s story is that Tucker says over and over and over that he’s not ready to move forward with a relationship – especially physically and especially penetrative. Billy tells him repeatedly that he’ll go slow and respect his wishes while IMMEDIATELY pushing him up to and including bottoming for the first time. When they do have penetrative sex for the first time Tucker is uncomfortable and talks about the pain for about 3 paragraphs then there’s a word or two of pleasure and it’s over. It never felt anything but awkward and while not “rapey” it definitely didn’t feel warm, loving or even like something they’d want to repeat! It absolutely left me cold and when – later – Tucker accepts a date with a woman in front of Billy – I wanted to scream at Billy : “HE’S NOT READY! Give him some space!” So… we’ll see how it goes with them but they aren’t off to a great start in my book.
As for Grant and Roger – it looks like they get more page time in book two, because in this they flirted around one another but never moved much past that and then Grant leaves on a mission.
I think this simply tried to do way too much in the first book and it was just a bit too scattered. My hope is that – as the series progresses – now that we’ve met the players (hopefully all of them?) the plot lines will become more clear and it won’t be so all over the map.
3 of 5 stars
My plan was to review these books as audiobooks (for all those made into audiobooks – right now that’s 6 of the 7). However, I absolutely could not finish this in audio format. The narrator, Stan Jensen is terrible. His style is a sort of overzealous, over the top almost comedic in an attempt to give all these characters a unique voice. His non dialog voice sounds a little older and all the men have a sort of geriatric twang to them. Occasionally he hits the mark – Duff, for example – is an older retired General and he sounds about as you’d expect. However, some of them are so strange as to be painful to listen to. Billy’s was the absolute worst of the voices – he sort of squawks all the time. I eventually had to just stop because I was so distracted by the narration I lost track of the story itself.
(Stan narrates book two but thankfully none of the others in the series. I won’t be reviewing book 2 as an audiobook.)
1 of 5 stars
Overall 2 of 5 stars for the audiobook
Copy Purchased For Review
Amazon link for the e-book
(Free on Kindle Unlimited!)