Title: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (A States of Love Story)
Author: L.A. Merrill
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 74 Pages
At a Glance: This was my first time reading L.A. Merrill, and I found this story to be entertaining and fun.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: David Marks is looking for the perfect place to film his new web series and recover from his latest failed relationship. When reclusive writer Michael Sharp opens his Montana ranch to paying guests, David knows he’s found the right place—but he doesn’t expect to find Mr. Right too.
Forty years ago Michael Sharp’s father was murdered in front of him. No one believed a six-year-old boy’s testimony against the powerful Carver brothers. For years Michael has lived in self-imposed exile, the only living witness who can bring down the Carver criminal empire. But now the money is running out, and he’s forced to play host to a troupe of temperamental web actors and their energetically attractive director in order to stay alive.
The Carvers aren’t about to stand for rebellion. Michael has outlived his usefulness. Now Michael and David have to find a way to end this fight once and for all, finding justice for Michael’s father and meeting David’s funding deadline—all before one or both of them ends up dead.
Review: David Marks’ past isn’t the greatest, alcohol became his enemy, and he wears fake glasses to hide behind. David is making a live web video, so he’s taken his film crew and actors into the secluded mountains of Montana, to Sharp’s Wilderness Ranch, for ten days. He’s counting big on making his live web show successful—he has a crew and actors to consider—and he can’t let down his best friend, Ronni, who supported him during hard times. But, things just snowball on him: no wi-fi, no edited script, it’s over with his writer, not enough sleeping accommodations… And then there’s Michael Sharp.
Michael is an author and the owner of the ranch, along with manager, Jen Walsh. Michael is a little stand-offish when Ronni mentions that she knows who Michael is—he penned a novel that was turned into a movie, and rumor has it that it was a true story. But not all is what it seems. Michael is carrying around a lot of guilt and blame, from the time he was a young child, which has stifled him.
As David takes the first step and starts talking with Michael, they become familiar with each other, sharing personal events in their lives, and David finds Michael to be a likable person. Michael starts getting involved in helping David with his video endeavor, working together on editing the script, and finds himself thrown into the filming. When Michael finally fills David in on the secret that has plagued him, he then demands David leave the ranch. But a stranger shows up, and Michael knows it’s too late. And then David and his crew must pull off one of the most dangerous acting jobs, ever.
This was my first time reading L.A. Merrill, and I found this story to be entertaining and fun. Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch is a quick and easy read, well written, and takes an in-depth look at the two main characters. The plot is a little crazy, but it works to make a good mystery with secrets, danger and humor sprinkled in. I really liked David and Michael; they each had their issues to deal with, but they made for a nice couple of opposites. There’s also a good cast of secondary characters, Ronni and Jan have a surprise of their own.
You can buy Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch here: