Monday, September 17, 2018

Release Day Review: Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur (Series Review)

Reyes Caldero keeps his past buried deep and his emotions buried deeper. But what he doesn’t say he always makes up for with his actions. When the hot chef he once saved from an abusive ex turns up at Clean Slate Ranch, the quiet cowboy is happy to act on their sizzling chemistry, even if he’s not ready to share his secrets—or his heart.

Miles Arlington needs to get the hell out of San Francisco, and heading north for a job near Clean Slate Ranch seems like just the thing. It doesn’t hurt that his secret crush slash onetime rescuer happens to work at the ranch. Miles has never been one for the outdoors, but the superhot Reyes has him ready to saddle up.

Reyes is happy to keep things casual, even though his heart has other ideas. And when Miles is forced to confront his past again, Reyes and Miles will have to put all their trust in each other if they want any chance at building a future together.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

This book is approximately 86,000 words

**Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.**

Saddle Up is book three in A.M. Arthur’s Clean Slate Ranch series. I highly recommend you read this series in the appropriate order. The characters and many storylines mentioned in this book are carryovers from the other books, so you’ll enjoy it much more if you start at the beginning. And, come on, all the books are about cowboys finding love, who wants to skip any of that? No one!

I was really looking forward to Reyes and Miles story and it did not disappoint! Both men are secretive in the other two books so I knew there was going to be a lot of heartbreak in this one. I mean, come on, have you ever read a book by this author before? Well, this one was surprising. There have been many of her books that have made me cry, but not this one. There was a lot of sad elements involved and hard stories and feelings to get through, but I must have hardened my heart and eyes to manage it.

Once Miles is able to fully come into himself, to get past his fear and to start truly living his life, he was an easy character to love. He loved hard, and really just wanted to be loved in return. Reyes was still secretive throughout the book, until forced to finally tell his secret and it was a doozy. Sometimes authors will build up the secret and then you get to the reveal and it’s something like, Oh, when I was 4 I stole a piece of gum from the store. And as a reader you’re going, um, all that drama for that? Anyway, back to this story. That was NOT the secret being kept and it was a big one. One that for a lot of people probably could easily kill a relationship. So, the author really has to put Reyes and Miles through their paces to find a HEA.

I love this author’s work and this series. I love the Clean Slate Ranch and all the characters that make up the ranch. The author did a fantastic job of showing Miles working through his previous relationship abuse. He’s not in a bad relationship and then a few days later attracted to someone else and magically better. He really struggles with making himself stronger. When he’s finally ready to act on his attraction to Reyes, it’s a slow build-up to more. There’s no magic penis fixing him in this book! Even though this is a slow-building relationship, it never felt like it.

I’d highly recommend checking out this series! The author has built a world of easy to love characters. There is heartbreak throughout the series, but with a rainbow at the end of each storm so the characters know they’ve lived through those hardships and have succeeded in truly living after the heartbreak. This series will make you run the gamut of emotions and at the end of each book, you’ll have loved the ride.

Rating 4.5 stars!!

3.75 Stars!

I've been looking forward to this story since Miles was introduced in Wild Trail. I felt for the skittish Miles and was hoping to understand him better and see him flourish in his own book. Based on previous books in the series, Reyes seemed like the perfect person for Miles as well.

Miles came off as a shy introvert that was skittish and clearly had been hurt. Miles feels safe with Reyes. While he wasn't too sure about sharing a cabin with Reyes, they settle in pretty well once he Miles moves in. I was happy to see him become the head chef at the ghost town. I was even happier watching him open up to Reyes in ways that he hadn't with anyone else, even his best friend.

Reyes seemed like the perfect rock for Miles. Someone to care and protect him, but it's clear that Reyes is hiding some deep scars of his own. I was happy to see Miles help Reyes with some of his past, and I loved watching Miles blossom with Reyes. What I was not so happy with was Reyes's final secret. It was devastating to Miles and considering the amount of issues these two had already overcome, this one seemed insurmountable to me considering Miles past. The pileup of issues right at the end also didn't seem to leave enough time for Miles to really grasp and deal with Reyes' past.

I enjoyed reading it, but it felt a bit rushed at the end with everything that came to a head and the speed at which things were resolved.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

Wild Trail: 4.5 stars

I LOVED the back and forth between Wes and Mack. The dialogue in this book was entertaining and kept me wanting more. Also, who doesn't love a good cowboy story?

Wes and Mack had a lot of depth to them that I did not really expect. Wes seems like a flirtatious guy without a care in the world but we quickly see his passion and genuineness on the page. Mack has his own issues from the past that give him pause when it comes to relationships but Wes sort of sweeps past those. This was the perfect opposites-attract story with easy to like MCs. The author did a great job of setting up the main characters and side characters that have me eager to keep reading.

I enjoyed the storyline of the ghost town and everything that came with it, but I am glad that the drama that was tied up in it got resolved by the end of the book. I wanted to make sure we got Avery and Colt in all of their glory and I am excited to start their story!

Roped In: 4.25 stars

The first interaction between Avery and Colt had me eager to keep reading! The author did an amazing job of showing in their reactions to each other how much they still cared. Avery was a little bit of a contradiction but in the best possible way. He was so different than most Doms that we meet in books. He was shy sometimes and not the big buff leather daddy that we see so much.

I loved Colt and Avery and all of the sexy times in this book were HOT. Seeing Colt in a sub role was hotttt. I loved all of the times they came together. I enjoyed the brief flashback scenes that we get from them. I usually do not like getting flashbacks because I always just want to get back to the present but I think that these helped strengthen the story.

Seeing Colt and Mack start being friends and again was great. It was sweet to see Mack start to forgive him and it was such an important piece to Colt forgiving himself. I also really enjoyed Colt and Avery going and seeing Colt's family. I am eager to see if Brand gets a story in the future!

Saddle Up: 4.5 stars 

Since book one I have been dying to get Reyes and Miles' HEA. They both are so quiet and a little bit secretive that I just needed to get to their story and unpack them. We slowly get hints about each of their pasts and it is both captivating and heartbreaking. Even through that, we see them both start to trust and open up to each other.

I liked that this was a slow-burn romance because it was very true to the characters. Even though there is some tension with each of their pasts playing a piece in the storyline, it was interesting and kept me wanting to learn more. The author gave us a little bit at the end of the book that showed Reyes working towards forgiving himself for his past but I do wish that he was able to get a little bit more closure than he did. Even though Miles' closure was a bumpy ride, I still appreciated it and wanted that for Reyes as well.

One thing I loved about this book was the character development of both Reyes and Miles from book one when we meet them, to the end of this book. It was nice to see Reyes being more open with his family at the ranch and just letting himself be happy with Miles. Also, the changes we see in Miles from that first visit to the ranch in book one is incredible. He was jumpy, scared, standoffish and just unhappy and then in this book, even with some drama going on, he just lights up and I loved seeing that. I really hope this is not the end of the Clean Slate Ranch characters!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

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