“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
When we first meet Matt, Madison Ward. He is meeting his cousin Brian, who has gotten him a job at the Gates cattle ranch. Matt has been taking care of his aunt, Brian’s mother, but she has become ill and has been moved into an assisted living facility. Her house had to be sold to pay for her care so Matt is homeless without this job. He has never worked a ranch before, but he is willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Upon his arrival Matt meets Baxter Hollingsworth, the ranch foreman. Matt recognizes the attraction in Baxter’s eyes, but it seems Baxter is not just in the closet, but he is so far in there he may never come out.
Baxter Hollingsworth is a forty-plus-year-old ranch foreman who has lived his life in the closet and has no intention of coming out anytime soon. He is completely enthralled by Matt when he first meets him, and that scares him to death. The only solution Baxter can see is to stay professional and keep as much distance between them as possible. This seemed to work for him until he gets drunk. Each time he has a few drinks, he finds Matt and has his way with him, but as soon as he is sober, he is back to putting distance between them.
Matt is pretty much at his breaking point and decides that he has to stop letting Baxter use him whenever he feels like it. Right about this time, Matt meets the local vet and finds out that not all the gay men in town are in the closet. The two men go out on a date and it gets pretty hot and heavy, but Matt can’t get Baxter out of his head and he lets the vet down easy. Baxter is enraged that Matt went out with the vet and it leads to a confrontation where Matt finally tells Baxter that he isn’t going to stand for anymore drunk fumblings, and he wants to live and love out and proud. Baxter won’t do that so they are done, or so Matt thinks.
Soon after this confrontation, there is a freak accident that leaves Matt injured and has Baxter questioning his decision to stay in the closet and away from Matt. This is where the author lost me. It seemed to me that all of a sudden the two men are proclaiming their undying love for one another, and it just felt false. The author did write a wonderful story, I just feel so much was left unsaid that needed to be verbalized. There was a situation of sexual assault against Matt, and it seemed he just “got over it”. He never discussed it with anyone, and that just didn’t ring true with me. The owners of the ranch seem to adore Matt, yet there is very little history shown between them, and maybe three total conversations.
This book was a good read, I just felt it could be so much more. I didn’t have any emotional ties to the MCs, and I truly didn’t like Baxter. I just got the impression that the whole storyline was rushed, and I didn’t get all the backstory that would have made the book that much better.
Reviewed by: Jackie