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Stone Harrison never knew he had an aunt; he certainly never expected her to bequeath him one of the largest spreads in central Nevada. But something about Copper Lake Ranch and its foreman, Luke Reynolds, speaks to him, offering a chance for the home he’s never really had.
Luke wants Stone to succeed as a rancher and put the legacy of his shiftless father behind him, but he’d also like Stone to share his bed. Unfortunately, Stone is convinced that the world is a harsh place that will never accept two men sharing their lives. Much to Luke’s dismay, he refuses to risk Luke’s life despite the intense attraction they share.
The tension between them escalates when a series of calamities strikes Copper Lake. An unexpected and unwelcome visit from Stone’s dandified cousin, James, only makes things worse. Stone’s ability to run the ranch comes into question, but the threat of losing it means less to Stone than the threat to Luke’s life. Stone will do anything it takes to protect the man he loves—even if it makes him a murderer.
This story was, well, nice. I can’t say more than that.
Stamped as “Historical Western” — I couldn’t really grasp that sense of time period. I won’t pretend to know what an authentic historical western is, but I can imagine this being in our contemporary timeline too. Aside from the lack of Internet or cellular phone, that is. Maybe because the setting of the story was mainly on the ranch so it felt rather ‘isolated’ so it was easily replaced with a contemporary setting and it wouldn’t make a difference for me.
The main issue for the relationship was Stone’s reluctance and fear to grasp his happiness with his new rancher, Luke, because he was convinced that society would not accept same-sex relationships. He was worried that it would be dangerous for them; what with them living in a small town and apparently, cowboys were also gossiping about their boss.
However, at the same time, I felt that this fear was all in Stone’s head only. I didn’t feel the sense of danger coming at them. Everything that Stone feared, whispers of gossip, people judging him for living at the house with Luke, even people’s hatred over his heritage (he had Native-American blood in him), it all happened either in his mind or didn’t happen at all. None of them were written on page. Well, there was one scene with a drunk who spurred hurtful words, but that situation was easily diffused.
So the whole “I better stay away from you for your own good” attitude that Stone showed when it came to his relationship with Luke was dragging the story down and felt a tad too long. I couldn’t help but compare this with another historical western involving a Native American character, Well-Traveled (Margaret Mills and Tedy Ward) that I reviewed back in March. That one felt like giving a well-described situation of hazard when you were two men in love in the 19th century West. Especially when one of them was Native American. When I was reading that book, I was worried for the characters, because I could feel the danger if people found out. But here, I didn’t experience the same thing.
The characters were nice and likable though. I did like Luke better since Stone annoyed me when he was being so adamant of staying way. I enjoyed Agnes, a secondary female character portrayed as someone smart and independent. ALTHOUGH, her action in the end, relating to Stone’s cousin, was baffling me. But to each her own and I wouldn’t pretend that I understand it *shrugs*.
Overall conclusion, it was a nice story if you like your cowboys and ranchers in a Historical Western setting. I just didn’t find it as particularly memorable though.