Monday, April 14, 2014

Review by Jodi: A Courageous Ride by Andrew Grey

Title: A Courageous Ride
Author: Andrew Grey

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Rating: 4/5


The Bullriders: Book Three 

     Aspiring orchestra conductor Marshall is exhausted after months of auditions without a single job offer. Marshall’s friend, Terry, recommends a change of scenery and points Marshall in the direction of a dude ranch run by former bull rider Indigo Santana. Marshall is understandably skeptical, but his friend is convincing, and Marshall needs a break, so he agrees to go. 

     Indigo captures Marshall’s attention but leaves him confused. Indigo’s confidence is shot after an injury ended his rodeo career, and he walks with a slight limp. He hasn’t been anywhere near a bull since he was hurt, and he’s not the most accommodating host. After all, the only reason he keeps guests is because his family ranch is all but bankrupt. 

     Marshall’s attraction doesn’t go unanswered, which leaves him with a huge dilemma. He’s torn between the possibility of love, something he’s searched for all his life, and the career he’s worked toward for as long as he can remember, which is miles away. From his side of the fence, Indigo doesn’t see how the ranch could ever be enough.


        Andrew Grey has a talent for writing beautiful prose and engaging dialogue. He has a knack for engaging readers within the first couple of sentences and cloistering them in the world he has created. He successfully does this again in his latest novel A Courageous Ride, the third book in his Bullriders series. Although this novel can be read as a standalone, the book is more engaging if you have read the other books in the series first. Dante and Ryan from A Wild Ride make a welcome appearance in this book.

Indigo is a former bull rider. During his last ride, he was seriously injured and can no longer perform. Not only has he not been on a bull since his accident, but thought of bull riding terrifies him. Although Indigo loves working on the ranch, his homestead, he is having a difficult time coming to terms with his new place in the world as a dude ranch owner.

The Circle R Ranch is not just a home to Indigo. The ranch is his salvation and life. In order to keep the ranch financially afloat, Indigo has turned it into a working dude ranch. His guests learn how the ranch operates and participate in the daily chores. Although Indigo is not hiding his sexuality, he does not flaunt it on the ranch. The bull riding circuit is not the most open minded, and Indigo has hidden the fact that he is gay from his family based on a traumatic family event.

“He was just about to go get it when a large car pulled into the drive. Indigo paused on the porch and waited for the black sedan to pull to a stop near the other guests’ car. Then he jogged down the steps and out to the car. Indigo stopped when he saw a gorgeous man get out of the car and look around. For a second he forgot himself and stared openly, then caught himself and walked the rest of the way to the car. It wasn’t a good idea to be that open. The guys on the ranch knew he was gay, and they didn’t mind, but the guests were another matter, and he knew it was always a bad idea to mix business with pleasure and other interests. All it would take was one guest to claim an unwanted advance and he could lose guests… and the ranch he’d been working so hard to save.”

When the reader first meets Marshall, it is while he is conducting an orchestra. Marshall seems confident and in his natural element, but it soon becomes apparent that the confidence is a facade. The conductor position is temporary though, and Marshall is looking for something permanent. His family is pressuring him to come home and work in the family business, but Marshall’s heart is with the music.

Marshall is stressed out and needs a break. He is in a slump and emotionally drained. He needs a place to regroup and re-evaluate. Although going to a working dude ranch is not something he would usually do, but it seems like a way to get away from everything, including his family and the aforementioned former boyfriend who did a number on Marshall’s psyche. And, Indigo, the owner of the ranch, is definitely a beautiful sight to see.

“Indigo was a fine-looking man, with short dark hair, sun-kissed skin, and dark eyes. Tall, dark, and handsome was the old adage, and it described Indigo perfectly. So did a butt that could crack walnuts, for that matter, but concentrating on that would do Marshall no good. No, much better if he was careful and didn’t jump into things.”

The chemistry between Marshall and Indigo is apparent from the beginning, even though both men are skittish. Indigo is insecure, and Marshall’s indecision seems to be deep rooted.  Neither man is looking for a long-term relationship, and both men have other obligations that take presence over making their encounter more than a short fling, which Marshall is very wary of beginning.

“He shouldn’t do this. For so many reasons, he needed to turn and walk away. Doing anything with anyone was not a good idea. He was only staying for a week, and he needed rest and quiet. Messing around with the ranch owner was probably one of the worst ideas he’d had in a long time, and when it came to men, Marshall knew he was the king of bad ideas.”

Andrew Grey is the king of romance. His detailed descriptions of the ranch and the men’s game of cat and mouse are beautifully written. Grey has the ability to bring a reader quickly into a story and this third installment in the Bull riders series is no exception.

There are a few places in the story that leave the reader with questions, but overall the plot is well developed.  The subplots in the story help develop the characters’ personalities and help explain some of their seemingly strange behaviors. A love story in the truest sense of the term, A Courageous Ride is an enchanting story.

**Reviewer's note: Thank you to Andrew Grey for providing a [copy] of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

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