A Shared Range
Dreamspinner Press, 2010
After a year in medical school, Dakota Holden returned home to take care of the family business full time and help his father cope with multiple sclerosis. Devoted to his family, Dakota allows himself just one week of vacation a year, which he spends in some exotic location having all the fun he can stand. On his last vacation, a cruise, Dakota struck up a friendship with Phillip Reardon, and it fills an important role in Dakota’s life.
So when Phillip decides to take Dakota up on his invitation to visit the ranch, Dakota is happy to see him and meet his veterinarian friend, Wally Schumacher. Despite Wally’s inclination to help the wolves Dakota’s men shoot to protect the cattle, he and Dakota find they have a lot in common, including a fierce attraction. But they’ll have to decide if the Wyoming range is big enough for Dakota’s cattle, Wally’s wolves, and their love.
Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Contemporary, Cowboys, Father-son relationship, Wolves (the real ones)
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames
Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the publisher
One look at the cover of this book was enough to make me want to know more about the story. And yes, a hot cowboy as the hero, taking care of his father, sealed the deal, I wanted to read this book. Yet, it took me a few weeks to actually pick it up and start reading it - I was waiting for the right mood to spend some time on the ranch. Once I did however I didn't want to leave again and when I finished the book I regretted that I had to say goodbye to Dakota and Wally. Despite their funny names, these men grew on me and I loved the way the author brought them together and made me believe their attraction and love.
One thing I really liked is that Mr Grey took the time to introduce his heroes, before letting them meet and get to know each other. First we learn a lot about Dakota and his relationship with his father, which is endearing. Only when we're already about 20% into the book Wally makes his appearance and he and Dakota meet shortly after. Dakota is a tall, muscular dark-haired cowboy and Wally is a much smaller, blond twink veterinarian. They're a dream couple even when Wally thinks he's no match for the handsome cowboy. But the attraction is mutual and instant. Yet they have to be careful to act on it because of the not so gay friendly attitude in 'cowboy-land'. And Dakota only comes out of the closet first during Wally's visit to the ranch. This coming out process is going naturally, maybe a bit too smoothly, considering the environment, with hardly any conflict except for one or two ranch hands and locals giving some trouble.
The no-conflict element characterizes this whole story actually. It's all minor and exterior friction which is solved quickly in this book and at times I find that very pleasant, especially after reading a highly angsty book. Dakota and Wally work on their relationship steadily and with the best intentions. Communication is not going smoothly all the time, but it does in general. Both are likable and great heroes and their chemistry is sizzling hot. The smexing is been foregone by tender moments in which they share some scorching kisses and just cuddle and sleep. The build-up is again done wonderfully.
Another aspect I enjoyed quite a bit about this book is the role of Dakota's father and other secondary characters. Especially the father is an important character and feels like a man of real flesh and blood. His medical condition, multiple sclerosis, is the reason for Dakota running the ranch instead of finishing his medical study, but he has no regrets about that at all. His relationship with his father is loving and caring, and when his father has good moments his fatherly advice is wise and helping Dakota figure some things out.
And then there's Wally's passion for animals and his need to protect and take care of all of them, including the wolves that are a threat to the ranch and therefore a regular target of some shooting cowboys. He and Dakota's opinions differ on this subject, but the way they deal with an injured wolf is subtle added evidence of their evolving feelings for each other. Wally's personality gets its color from his passion and his take on this subject, as much as it feeds Dakota's love for him.
As you can tell from the above I very much enjoyed reading A Shared Range. It's a sexy and compelling story about coming out of the closet. And although that last part was perhaps dealt with a bit too optimistically, given the environment these men live in, it's embedded nicely in a world of ranching which was presented vividly and appeared realistic apart from that element. It's not only easy to love both heroes but also to understand them thanks to the alternating point of view from both men. Their love story is well paced and engaging, has scorching hot and tender moments, and is entertaining until the end.
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