Title: Butt Riders on the Range
Authors: Kage Alan, JP Barnaby, Ally Blue, TC Blue, Shae Conner, Jevocas Green, Kieran Kelly, and Eden Winters
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Pages/Word Count: 448 Pages
At a Glance: An enjoyable and eclectic mix of cowboy stories from the mundane to the fantastic.
Reviewed By: Angel
Blurb: Do you imagine blazing gun battles, bandits, and saloons with watered-down drinks when you think of cowboys and the West? We don’t. Our minds go right to horse shifters, bull shifters, were-leopards, urban wannabes, an interrupted journey along Route 66, a man of mystery named Dr. Feel-Good, and high noon at the edge of the galaxy! The fourth time’s the charm as the Butt-Thology authors saddle up, ride their men hard, and put ‘em away wet.
Butt Riders on the Range…the bulls aren’t the only ones being grabbed by the horns!
Review: Wait! Don’t let the title drive you away! LOL! I can imagine your first thought seeing it, because I am certain it was similar to my own. However, after a bit of searching I found out this anthology is one in a series of unconnected stories—except for the authors. These fabulous people gathered at a convention and came up with the idea of an anthology. They have since added to their numbers, as this is the fourth one in a not quite series for different takes on a genre. Did they ever deliver, especially with this anthology! I, for one, hope these talented authors continue their good work of providing us with awesome stories.
Short stories aren’t for everyone, but I can say this about them, they introduce you to new authors and give old favorites a chance to entice you again. That’s exactly what I have found here in this anthology. Here’s a short summary and review of each of the stories.
Hung Like A Horse by JP Barnaby: JP Barnaby is a new author for me, and I enjoyed my introduction to her work. My summary won’t do this short shifter story justice, but here goes. Riley Harper is a young man with a problem. He’s on the run and has decided to hide on a ranch where he’ll never be found. Not as a hand, though, as a horse. John North is a horse shifter who owns a ranch which houses abused horses. He knows his newest acquisition isn’t all he seems, so he is just biding his time until the day comes when he can confront the shifter hiding on his ranch.
Shifters aren’t out. In fact, if the government does find one, they are taken and imprisoned to be experimented on. It is one of these facilities that Riley has escaped from, and he isn’t willing to go back. He trusts no one, and after running himself to the limit, he’s forced back into his human form. North knows, and has known, that Riley was a shifter as he himself is a shifter. It’s been a long time since North has been around another shifter, and what he feels for the skittish young man isn’t something he’s felt in a long time, but it is going to take a gentle hand to settle Riley and rebuild his trust.
Barnaby has taken the tropes of shifters and turned it on its side. I loved the different take on this troupe and how distrustful Riley was. That John stood up for the young man and showed him there were still good people out there, people who would protect him regardless of his status, makes this story all the more intriguing. There is a background story on both North and Harper that the author barely touches on, and it caught my attention more so than the sexy scenes. I would love for the author to expand on this -verse if she ever decides to return to it.
Chinchilla Chimichangas by Kage Alan: Chris is an author, traveling on a bus, and he’s on a mission. He not only has to finish his next novel, but he’s making an homage trip with his father’s ashes. He’s having a bit of trouble doing both because the weather is wreaking havoc with his trip and the final destination. After a storm washes out the road, he’s stuck in a podunk little town. Here he meets Cameron, who offers him a little southern hospitality.
Alan is another new author for me, and I liked this story. I loved that Chris’s characters were real to him, enough so that he speaks to them in his head and also out loud. This was a hilarious take on how a writer lives with the voices in their head. Cameron is a down to earth guy just working his family farm. The relationship between the two characters seems a bit rushed as they try to cram all their life stories into a few select days before the roads are cleared. Both men have issues and while it isn’t exactly accepted to be gay in the little town, they make the promise to try to have a real relationship once Chris’s trip is over. The epilogue was bittersweet, in one way, but gave us the hope of a happily ever after.
Squatting with Spurs On by Kieran Kelly: Dooley McCallister finds himself the sudden owner of a ranch in Montana, bequeathed to him by an unknown man. Or, so he thinks. Once he arrives and takes possession of the ranch, he finds that it is rundown and in desperate need of repair, and that he has no way to unload the property. He also founds out that the place is haunted.
Kelly is a new author to me and while I enjoyed the writing style, I really don’t know what to say about this one without giving away the entire plot line, except to say I laughed some and cried a bit. It made me so sad in one way, but also there is a running theme of eternity and forever love throughout the story.
Faux Cowboy by Shae Conner: Jackson James is dressed to the nines in his cowboy regalia and has an image to uphold. Douglas Shaw is on vacation and visiting the Big Apple for the first time.
Shae Conner is another first time author for me, and I liked this one. It was a short, sweet and sexy romp. First time impressions can be deceiving, and this little story makes good use of that ideal. Jackson is hiding that he isn’t a real cowboy, and neither is Doug, for that matter. Not really, but they did enjoy one another.
Hooves and Horns by Eden Winters: Another shifter story with a bull shifter and a horse shifter, and the two classes just don’t mix. They are also rodeo men, and were building a life together until Armando’s family stepped in and Kerry felt betrayed. Each are the other’s nemesis on the circuit now too, and the chemistry between them is spark-worthy. I loved how Kerry, the horse shifter, and Armando, the bull shifter, traded out the dominance in their volatile relationship, both in and out of the rodeo ring. They had only ever allowed the other to ‘win’ against one another as their shifter selves while out on the circuit, so their final coming together and settling with one another was excellent after the disaster of their past.
The Boy from Battalion Bluff by Jevocas Greene: Unfortunately, this was my least favorite story in the book. I like sci-fi but this one was almost too much sci-fi for my taste, with an outer space succubus/incubus going at it almost in public, and a local boy getting caught up in the middle. The town waited with bated breath to see who was going to be chosen to experience Dr. Feel-Good’s wiles, but I just couldn’t connect with the story. The writing was easy to read, though I don’t think I’ll read more by this author.
The Five Hells War by Ally Blue: Ally Blue is new to me and I loved this story. It was a sci-fi tale of big corporation hustling the little guy on a backwater planet that has hidden resources. The BC lawyer is supposed to be a shark, but when he finds out what exactly is going on at the Five Hells Ranch, he puts aside his job and works to help out the very man he was sent to persuade to give up his ranch.
Rocky owns the Five Hells and came by it through his family. It was passed down and he owns the land fair and square, and he is not leaving without a fight. The romance that ensues between the two men was fun, and I liked seeing how the uncouth Rocky could unseat Balthazar, so much so that when they do win their suit, Balthazar decides to stay with Rocky on his farm.
And The Horse He Rode In On by TC Blue: I really liked this story, but it was so busy, and I think would have been better suited to a novella or longer version. Tyler is a horse shifter who runs a sheep farm, and something is killing his lambs. Turns out the something is a leopard shifter named Jason. Tyler takes Jason in after almost killing him while they were both in their alternate forms, and a romance begins. Personally, I loved Jason calling Ty the “attack pony,” and I laughed out loud when Tyler dumped a bunch of creamer packets and cat toys into Jason’s bed.
There is also an entire back-story going on at the same time as the romance, where we discover that predatory shifters usually don’t mix with prey shifters, and that there are severe consequences if it does happen. Jason was basically turned against this will, is without a Pard, and Tyler is a bit of a loner when it comes to his pack—or whatever it is you call a group of horses. He seems to have a good relationship with his sister Ari and her husband Blake, who is the horse shifters’ vet.
So, yes, I think I would have enjoyed this more if it were longer, but it does tell the tale well enough at its current length.
A huge thank you to all the authors for an enjoyable read!
You can buy Butt Riders on the Range here: