Shoot, every time you get on an animal, you take your life in your hands. – Chris LeDoux
The job of the pickup man in a rodeo is to manage the horses and bulls and rescue bronc and bareback riders from their horses after they make a ride. They are the men trusted to get the riders to safety after the ride and to escort the horse, bull or bronc out of the ring. Sometimes a pickup man has to put himself between a 2,000 pound animal and the rider trying to get over the fence. It is a dangerous job and the cowboys appreciate their pickup men and make sure to tell them that every day. Sometimes pickup men get injured. Badly.
In Pickup Men LC Chase brings the rodeo to life. You can practically smell the dust and hear the grunts and thuds as the men and animals collide. She introduced us to Tripp Colby, a championship bull rider. He is gay and deeply closeted. He fears, no he is terrified, to come out due to some things that he did and were done to him as a teenager.
LC Chase has also created Martin Fairbanks. Marty is Tripp’s pickup man. He is also his lover. Marty is out and proud. He wants nothing more than for Tripp to publicly acknowledge their love.
When Marty is seriously injured while saving Tripp’s life after a ride, the only thing he wants to see is Tripp’s face above his asking how he is doing, showing that he cares. Any other rider would have the courtesy to check on his pickup man, not even thinking about what others thought, but not Tripp. He walks away with his homophobic friend instead.
While in the hospital, Marty waits for Tripp to visit. He finally sneaks in after visiting hours are long over. Marty tells Tripp that they are done. If Tripp can’t even acknowledge Marty as a friend after his being injured while protecting Tripp, there is no hope he will ever come out of the closet as Marty’s lover.
A series of events set up wonderfully by LC Chase, eventually leads to many truths coming out. Tripp is beaten terribly and hospitalized for a week with no identification. When Marty eventually finds Tripp, he won’t leave his side. Men being men and love being love, Pickup Men takes some twists and turns that I won’t spoil for you. This is a romance novel, after all.
In Pickup Men, LC Chase has created an entire little world inhabited by cowboys, pickup men, ranchers and their families. She makes the reader feel drawn in to become a part of this world. The characters are realistic, flaws and all. The friends are loyal to a fault. They are the kind of friends we all wish we had. There are two in particular that have the potential for a sequel, should muse decide to take that path. And I sincerely hope she does. Highly recommended for lovers of hot cowboys!
Reviewed by: Tina