Friday, February 11, 2011

Review: Idaho Battlegrounds by Sarah Black

Sarah Black
Idaho Battlegrounds
Dreamspinner Press, 2010

Sheriff Grady Sullivan returns to Canyon County, Idaho, after his second tour in Afghanistan to find his department in disorder and his authority undermined. He’s determined to restore discipline, but he soon finds himself fighting for his job. The bright spot in his life is kindred soul Edward Clayton. But Edward isn't just raising dairy cows, and Grady is soon pulled into Edward’s Underground Railroad for illegal kids.

As noble as Edward’s work is, it’s illegal, and Grady is suddenly faced with losing everything he’s worked for and everything that matters to him as he’s forced to choose between Edward and the work that has always defined him.

Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Contemporary, Men in Uniform, Farming
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1 out of 3 flames

Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the publisher. It was my first book by this author, but it won’t be the last one.

Idaho Battlegrounds is a well-written, sweet romance. The main characters Grady and Edward are lovable heroes who are just right for each other. Their love story takes place against the background of rural, small-town life. Grady is the town's sheriff who recently returned from his second tour in Afghanistan to find his department in disorder and his authority undermined. New in town is cheese farmer Edward, a former lawyer, who is proud and openly gay.
Grady and Edward start to develop feelings of affection for each other. They are reading books to one another and their mutual feelings cause them to share a bath and inevitably they end up in bed together. Not that we learn anything about their activities in bed... There're no explicit sex scenes in this book. Only hints that the guys are having sex. And we witness a few kisses, but those are more sweet than hot, like the rest of their blooming relationship.

What I quite enjoyed was the fact that the men were reading books to each other as well as the references to these books. A few quotes were given, and the titles, of which I recognized a few. When Edward seems to be breathless after Grady read the first part of Let The Great World Spin from Colum McCann to him on the phone and urged him to come over to read the rest of the book together, I could relate to this, because the opening of this novel is indeed breathtaking (not in a smexy way, in case you were wondering ;)).
Another aspect I rather enjoyed were the descriptions of Edward's cheese making skills and tasks, and the guys working together to make cheese. There's always such a beautiful, quiet calm to the things they do together amidst all the turbulence that is going on in the rest of their lives. That made this a pleasant reading experience. Furthermore, there’s not much of a relational conflict between the heroes - only a minor external one, caused by the fact that Edward is helping out illegal kids, something Grady knows and which could get him into trouble, being the sheriff. But they agree that it’s a good cause and worth pushing the boundaries of the law, which underlines the message that these are honest, good men.

Adding everything up, it wasn't hard for me to believe these heroes are perfect for each other - although others may say that their relationship development could've been more elaborate and done a little more convincingly. It's really just the start of a relationship, imo a very sweet and believable one, but with an ending that's not quite a HEA but more a HFN (Happy For Now). I wouldn't have mind to read a bit more about how their relationship proceeded after everything settled down in their lives, in the sheriff’s department and on the farm. But maybe the author is saving that for a sequel... who knows. This still was an enjoyable read.

Sarah Black’s website | weblog | on Goodreads | on Twitter

Buy Idaho Battlegrounds here
Find a few free stories by Sarah Black here



  1. Sounds like a lovely story. :)

  2. Not sure if this one is for me but it sounds sweet :)

  3. Great review, Janna! This one was too leisurely paced for me and I drifted away from it, but in light of your review, I may give it another try. If you're curious to read more by this author, I'd recommend Border Roads.

  4. Hello Janna. Just moseying around, and couldn't leave without saying hello. But a thought just crossed my mind... what fascinates/attracts you/women to all-male stuff?

  5. Adding this to my list!

  6. Valance, there's a post here that might answer your questions. The comments are really good, too.

  7. Hmm, thanks Eyre. I guess I was more interested in making conversation with Janna than finding out the truth, but since you've gone to the trouble of providing a link, the least I can do is go take a look. Thanks.

  8. Hello again. I just got back. Yup, it was interesting. Like I said over there - when you get right down to it, it seems a woman's fascination with all-male romance reflects the male fascination with lesbians, in that it doubles up on 'the good stuff.' Thanks, Eyre.

  9. @Lily: It really was. :)

    @Blodeuedd: Me too, as long as there's a 'happy' in there. ;)

    @Mandi: This one couldn't probably satisfy you in the relation and character depth department... Sweet it was. :)

    @Chris: :D

    @Val: Thanks! I'll look into that recommendation. I do have Anagama Flies and Idaho Pride on my ereader, but not that one yet.

    @Mr Valance: It's intriguing isn't it. ;) I'm glad Eyre helped you out with the link to Patti's while I was still stuck in the evil land of deadlines. For me the fascination for m/m romance is pretty similar to Kris' reasons for loving it: the equality between the two main characters without the traditional roles a female and male character have to deal with is appealing; the respect that I have for gay people and their courage in real life reflected on fictional characters is intriguing me too; and of course the hotness of two men! I think you're right with the comparison with the two lesbians, it doubles the good stuff indeed! :)

    @Eyre: Thanks for the link, Eyre! I hope you enjoy this book. :)

  10. Hey honey, just peeking in to see what's going on on your side of the world honey... Wow, what an intriguing conversation! Hugs to you honey!!!

  11. I am becoming such a fan of tihs authors work..

    I thought the little touches she added in like the reading and such was really good...even the activities that the community was getting up to was really well thought out...

    I agree with you - all things considered the main protags were perfect for each other..


  12. Great review Janna! I love sweet books - this sounds like something I should read. (And I'm intrigued about the cheese making :)

  13. Hey hon,

    I'm with Valance...I'm old fashioned.. I like M&F it just seems more romantic to me, but we each have our own thing that turns us on! And I'm down with everyone enjoying themselves anyway they want.


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