Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan

Nowhere Ranch - Heidi Cullinan

GR Cleanup Read May 2011


Nowhere Ranch is a story about finding love and a home when just the thought of an emotional entanglement sends you running in terror.

“I got tired of waiting for home to come to me. So I went out and made a new home on my own.”

Monroe grew up on a farm and expected to spend his life there but circumstances drastically changed when his parents discovered he was gay and told him to straighten up or get the hell out. Roe refused to hide who he was and left, spending a small stint in jail and moving from town to town, job to job, terrified of sticking around long enough to make a friend or tie of any kind. He signs on as ranch hand at the aptly named “Nowhere Ranch” and doesn’t really notice owner Travis Loving as anything other than “boss” until the night they bump into each other at the nearest gay bar and realizes they have a whole heck of a lot in common.

Both were just looking for some hot kinky sex (and boy did they find some!) and plan to return to the boss/employee relationship though Travis makes it clear he’d welcome Roe on his door at any time for more sexy times.

“I’m going to leave it up to you,” he said as we stood outside my car back at the ranch. “I won’t lie to you. I would like to do this again, but I understand your reservations. So just know that I’m open to it anytime. You knock on my door, let me know, and we’ll pick this back up. Or not. Up to you. I won’ look at you differently at the ranch.” He rubbed the side of his neck and looked rueful as he added, “Though I will surely be jacking off to the memory of this.”

Roe gets skittish just thinking about establishing any sort of tie with Travis and ignores his invitation despite his body’s urgings to pay him a visit and have some more of the hottest sex of his life. He plans to flee, as he always does, but then things happen and he ends up naked with Travis and it gets all the more difficult to leave.

Roe tells the story so everything is told from his perspective and at moments it feels as if he is talking straight to you, the reader. It's a very intimate reading experience. Roe is hard working, quiet and down to earth and a really nice guy who has never given himself a chance to have a real relationship, even a friendship. Those who should have loved him unconditionally have damaged him and now he’s afraid to let anyone in.

Tired of letting other people make me feel like shit. Tired of people acting like I was the walking plague. Tired of, like the guys at prison, alternating between blaming everybody else for my problems and thinking if I were guilty enough they might forgive me. “

Poor Roe, family guilt can really do a number on you. I so enjoyed seeing life through his eyes and just wanted to tell him to “give love a chance.” LOL

Fortunately for Roe, he meets two people who don’t allow him to get away with his “ignore and flee” mentality. The first is Travis, who is just there, patient and steady and around whenever Roe needs him. He’s a lovely guy, a little older, a wee bit hairy and has a realistic little paunch that doesn’t diminish his sexiness one iota. And then there’s Haley, the ranch manager’s daughter, who is pushy, bossy, nosy and forces Roe to open up and become her friend. All of these entanglements are new for Roe and it’s difficult for him.

I truly enjoyed the progression of Roe and Travis’s relationship from fuck buddies, to friends to strong emotional entanglement that couldn’t easily be undone. Their characterization was low key and believable. Their dialogue, Roe’s thoughts, as their settling in to a life with each other was very, very well done.

“He nodded back and watched me work. I’d worried he was going to get kissy on me, but he stayed where he was, and bless him, he didn’t talk, just watched me work. I poured myself some coffee and got to it.”

And there are so many beautiful sigh worthy moments.

“You were beautiful. You made my teeth ache just watching you. Right then I felt beautiful. Sore and tired and beautiful. And not lonely. Not lonely at all.”

A word of warming is necessary here, methinks, because the sex is raw and rough and not everyone's cuppa. There is exhibitionism, enormous dildo play, spanking, restraints, fisting, pony/puppy play, master/slut exchanges and I know I’m leaving something out! But it’s all consensual and very hot and didn’t come off as gratuitous, each scene leads up to the next as barriers break down and the two fall in love.

My only problem with the book was with the character of Haley, who though funny, lovable and a very good friend for Roe, was also too outspoken and opinionated and ranty for her own good. And don't get me started on the ending. Grrrrr, too late. The ending was so schmaltzy and just didn’t feel right to me. It was very unsettling actually and felt tacked on to please . . . someone. I don’t quite know who but it wasn’t me. If it weren’t for the ending this book would’ve earned a full five stars. Do yourself a favor and skip the last few pages.