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Ross is a city boy, working on his thesis and living with his trendy boyfriend. When his grandfather breaks a hip and winds up in the hospital, Ross is enlisted to take over the running of his grandfather’s farm. When he arrives at the farm, he finds one problem after another; everything from the bore pump no longer working, to snakes taking over in the house. After calling in for reinforcements for the bore pump, he sets out to get everything else working. Relief arrives in the form of Geoff, who is impressed with Ross’ willingness to get his hands and boots dirty in order to get the work done. That’s not all that impresses Geoff, and when their attraction appears mutual, Ross must decide what to do. Can this city boy find happiness in the Australian outback? Read Bringo Springs and find out.
This story never really grabbed me, and despite it being fairly short I set it down several times. I cringed a few times while reading, but mostly enjoyed it, enough that I thought I’d probably give it three stars; it was okay. But then the more I thought about it, the more it annoyed me. Ostensibly, the main characters are Ross and Geoff. And presumably we’re supposed to be cheering for them to ride off into the sunset together and have a HEA. I mean, that’s what it sounds like reading the blurb, right?
The problem is that Ross was a cheating, callous jerk who engaged in stupidly risky behavior for no apparent reason. I think it’s worth pointing out here that I have no fundamental objection to reading about cheating or cheaters, but I need it to work in context for the characters and story. I also make a distinction between cheating and non-monogamy; the latter is fine, because there is no expectation of fidelity to betray. Cheating, however, is a dick move that requires a certain amount of angst to work for me, lest I think the cheater is a psychopath.
Anyone who cheats damn well ought to consider the implications, think less of themselves for doing it, and feel bad about the people they’re hurting (which may very well be more than just the person they’re cheating on). Where cheating can work for me in a story is when it’s followed by significant character change and growth. After all, no one is perfect and everyone makes stupid mistakes sometimes. The important thing is to learn from them and hopefully become a better person, and I enjoy redemption stories. Ross did none of that.
Geoff did his share of stupid things too, but within the context of his life they made a bit more sense to me (more than ‘none’, in other words). In my opinion, Geoff’s mistakes fell more under the live-and-learn category, so I might like to read a sequel that focuses on him finding a HEA with someone else. I finished the book expecting him and Ross to break up any day, possibly after Ross cheats on him too.
It didn’t help matters that I never saw what drew Ross and Geoff together other than being there, gay, and attractive. Granted, that’s plenty for a one-night stand between a couple of guys who haven’t promised monogamy to someone else. But even if Ross were such a guy, that doesn’t seem to me anywhere near enough for any sort of HEA longevity.
We didn’t see much of him, but my favorite character was Eugene, Ross’ ex-boyfriend, who definitely deserves someone much better. Although Ross’ betrayal hurt him in the short-term, in the long run I’m sure he’s better off. I’d like to read a book in which he finds someone special and gets a real HEA.
If I hadn’t been reading this for review, I probably would have set it down early on and forgotten about it. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t engaging me. Since I was reviewing it, I made myself keep picking it back up and there were things to enjoy about it, like the Australian setting. And the horses. But this definitely wasn’t up to the standard I expected based on how much I loved Bad Case of Loving You, which was my first book by this author and remains my favorite.