4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Climbing coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Hurt/comfort Insta Love m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series second chance at love Unrequited Love Widower

Mapping The Forest (Rocky Mountain Boys #1) by Brandon Witt

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents




Happily ever after has no map, but sometimes fate sends a guiding light.

Gabe Rice, a seasonal ranger at the Rocky Mountain National Park, can’t seem to get his life on the right trail. He loves the rugged beauty of the land, and there is no place he would rather live than the mountain community of Estes Park. But after six years, Gabe is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever get a full-time position or find love. When Gabe sees Luis—and hears his gorgeous singing—he’s compelled to meet him.

Luis Martinez, the new owner of a hotel and steak ride business in Estes, left California and a career as a therapist for a fresh start in Colorado. But even the beauty of the mountains can’t help him forget the past or move forward. Unprepared for his strong attraction to Gabe, Luis is ready to run and hide from emotions he never thought he’d have again.

Suddenly the path ahead opens to a future that looks brighter for both of them, if they can find the courage to walk forward—together.



So this is a spin off(?) from Brandon Witt’s Christmas story “Christmas Miracles of a Recently Fallen Spruce” (  that was included in last year’s Dreamspinner Advent Calendar. If you haven’t read it – you should – it’s a really sweet story and includes a bit about the Gay Boys Christmas Dinner [Club]. These guys get together to be the “family” that they choose and are really tight friends. (Brandon said it’s based on a true event!) In any case, you don’t need to have read it to appreciate this story, but it’s a nice bit of background.

Gabe and Luis are two very different people. Gabe is a park ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes (does NOT rhyme with testes!) Park, Colorado. He loves his job but hates his boss and his really only angst is that he’s been pining (pardon the pun) after his BFF for years to no avail.

Luis is far more broken. And he remains broken for most of the book. He’s just lost his husband (2 years ago) and is trying to make a go of a rashly purchased hotel in Estes.

What I liked about this was the unique take on their instant attraction. They don’t deny that it’s ridiculously fast or inappropriately intense, but embrace that fact. They also both jump into bed, but then regret the timing, only to do it again because they’re so hot for one another. It felt both “wrong” but honest and awkward but real.

For the most part I really liked their relationship and how it moved forward. I really felt badly for poor Gabe – he had a lot to contend with in a dead lover – but also poor Luis – who only wanted to honor both his “loves”.

What didn’t work as well for me – and what might just be because this is book one in a series – is the fact that a lot of the book is spent on secondary characters and their “partial” stories – which I’m sure become full-fledged later on in the series. It just felt distracting and not that integral to Gabe and Luis’ story and like it was just setting the scene for future books without being an important part of this one.

But… I’ve always been a fan of Brandon’s writing style – it’s both provocative and yet down-to-earth, poetic without being flowery. He writes really good sex scenes and their scarcity makes them that much more powerful. As a Coloradoan I appreciated his depiction of the “sights” and know that lots of people will want to take a trek up to RMNP when they go to GRL next year!

I really enjoyed this and was glad to see a “lighter” story from Brandon Witt again after his more “heavy” stuff of late.

4 of 5 stars




Copy Generously Provided by Publisher For Honest Review



One reply on “Mapping The Forest (Rocky Mountain Boys #1) by Brandon Witt”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.