Genre: M/M Cowboy
Wow! I don’t know if I enjoyed this story more for the book itself, or for the voice of Aaron Pickering whose narration of both characters was sexy as hell. More on that later.
Ray Sloane is the assistant to Pastor Noah (Complete Faith) at the newly formed Mustard Seed Church which is being built on the Lost Cow, the farm owned and operated by Luke and Simon (Morning Report). He’s gay, a school teacher, a friend to all, and he’s looking for what the men of the Lost Cow seem to have—someone to share their lives with, both the good and the bad.
He’s pretty much rotated through the bar scene where most of the eligible gay men go so he decides to try his hand at the Pink Palm, a bar that his friends refer to as a dive. There he spots a lonely-looking guy, one who attracts his attention and sets off his gaydar. The guy is older, darkly handsome, brooding, and seemingly enjoying the isolation of his corner seat. The bartender tells Ray that the guy comes every week but rejects everyone’s advances. When Ray approaches, he gets the brushoff but Ray being Ray, he engages the guy in conversation anyway. When he learns the man’s name is Zeke and the guy adamantly claims he’s not gay, Ray puts two and two together and comes up with Ezechiel, realizing it’s no wonder he’s so deeply closeted. With a name like that, his parents must be deeply religious.
It takes him several weeks, but he finally breaks through to the cowboy and when he does, he finds it was worth the wait. It turns out that Zeke is Zeke Jackson, the son of Tony Jackson, the homophobic fire-and-brimstone preacher who has made life hell for the guys of the Lost Cow throughout the past two books. Two years ago, Zeke’s wife caught him with a man, and since then he’s lost everything, including his kids and his job as an elementary teacher. He lives with his parents and works at the ranch of the biggest homophobe in the area, Wade Childs.
As time progresses, however, things come to a head, and Zeke finally breaks away from both his parents and the job and accepts a job offered by Luke and Simon. At the same time, he moves in with Ray. While all this is going on, one of Ray’s close friends, Lee, a young man he’s mentored for years, is severely beaten for being gay and is in a coma. Also, Ray is having problems at school which may result in outing him to his students.
This story unfolds as an action-packed, romance-packed drama with moments of light humor amidst the exploration of very serious issues. It was nice to get to the final resolution which allowed Ray and Zeke to have their HEA.
My enjoyment of this story is due, in large part, to the fact that it’s the audiobook version which, happily, features the narration of Aaron Pickering who does a soft, sweet, sexy voice as well as the deep, gruff, alpha voice he imparts to Zeke in this story. In fact, he has a wide range of vocalizations, doing the females as well as the males. And I can always tell which character is speaking, which is a huge plus in an audiobook. The narration definitely kicked this one up from a 4 to a 4.5 for me. If you can get this book or the whole series on audiobook, do it. You won’t regret it.
I’m going to miss the boys of the Lost Cow Ranch and may have to go back for a visit on occasion, as long as I don’t disrupt Simon giving Luke his “Morning Report”. I recommend this book and this series to those who like angst, religious conflict, hot cowboys, and HEA’s.