Author: Catt Ford
Narrator: Derrick McClain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 12 hours and 7 minutes
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: The audio for this book is amazing. Buy it—you won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: Aging bull rider Cody Grainger needs bullfighter Johnny Arrow for more than just protection in the ring. Their bond of trust goes beyond the professional and into love, but while their relationship holds up to the need for discretion imposed by their sport and repeatedly having to watch each other put themselves in the way of dangerous animals, other barriers still tear them apart.
For one thing, Cody is 10 years older than Johnny. But instead of contemplating retirement, he focuses on winning the championship, desperate to stay on top. Johnny is only beginning to find the professional recognition he craves. When frustration leads Johnny to walk away, Cody’s season slumps. While they’re apart, they both slowly realize they are meant to be together. But machismo abounds in the sport of bull riding, and their pride might be an obstacle too big for love to overcome.
Review: Bull riding champion Cody has it all. He’s a world champion, he’s on his way to a second world championship in a row, he has a loving family and a content partner in Johnny, who understands him. Or does he?
Bull riders are, by necessity, a cocky bunch. They are used to things going their way and they live for each eight second ride on the back of a charging, bucking bull. So why does everyone seem to be unwilling to just do as Cody says so everything goes his way?
The macho world of bull riding requires a good number of compromises. Long days of travel, body crushing injuries, keeping your secrets a secret in a world where gossip and rumor can be traded as currency, so when you find love you hang on to it. Perhaps in Cody’s case, far too tightly.
Johnny begins to feel dismissed, with his own goals of being a world class bull wrangler—the men who put their bodies on the line to get riders out of the ring and to guide the bulls and horses back into safe pens once the rides are over. Cody dismisses Johnny’s needs. He dismisses their problems. He dismisses the obvious flirting he does to charm women—and especially men—so he can remain popular. It leads Johnny to make a decision that leaves Cody dumbfounded. All of Cody’s friends understand what happened, his family understands what he did wrong. Other guys in the rodeo can see the problem even though they aren’t supposed to notice two men in this situation. On the brink of retirement, all Cody wants is for things to be his way all the time, to never get old, or hurt, or lose the love of his life.
Johnny needs his life to work out for himself first. He needs to be the best at his profession too. This conflicts with what Cody tells him he can have, and Johnny walks away. How they find a common ground and make it work is interesting to see. It’s a fun ride, but it is a long one. You need to open your heart here because some of the points are repeated, but the iterations are not dull.
The audio for this book is amazing. Derrick McClain is a relatively new voice in M/M audio, but he’s quickly becoming a favorite. The voices are clear, the characters well developed, and the accents and emphasis given to the words is nearly perfectly spot on. Usually during a long narration—this one is twelve plus hours—you get bored, or the narrator forgets the voice he’s given a character. Not so in this case. The voices are consistent and they flow like sweet olive oil over your ears. There are few if any flaws to note in the narration.
McClain conveys the heartache of the breakup, the separation, and the resolution with deep heart and a steady voice that is wonderfully suited to this story. Listeners should be happy to see Derrick McClain’s name on a narration line from now on. I have heard several of his voice performances now, and each one improves on the last. No matter the setting or the plot, his voice comes across clearly and takes you to places the words tell you about. This is no easy task. Sometimes plots are slow or difficult, but here, the length of the narration just gives you more time to live in this world and to enjoy the characters because they are presented so well.
Buy this audiobook. You will not be disappointed. Buy it if you like good romance with a twist. Buy it if you like books where both men are already gay and don’t need to “discover” it. Buy it if you like cowboys, but keep in mind this is not a western. I fully recommend the story despite its length. The narrator keeps you wanting more the entire time.
You can buy Bullheaded here: